Opinion | An Empathy Lesson for Teens Amid a Pandemic

To the Editor:

Re “I Hate the Mom That Covid Has Made Me” (Op-Ed, Dec. 29):

Kristen Howerton does us all a service by monitoring her teens wearing masks in public. She writes about the need for “empathy” for her teenage children. Empathy, however, is not feeling sorry for bored teens temporarily denied. Empathy is learning to see need and misery around us, including in the homes of those we like to vaunt as Covid “heroes.”

Parents can create perspective for their perhaps whining, perhaps privileged children. Teach kids to see Covid through the eyes of the parent forced to work on the front lines, without adequate P.P.E. Note the number of medical, delivery, retail and other frontline workers who have died from Covid. That alone is reason to help the community by wearing a mask properly.

Learn to see Covid through the eyes of the parent who has lost a job, endangering the roof over her kids’ heads. Teach kids to imagine lining up for food bank handouts to survive — and go to see where it happens. Read about children trying to do homework on unreliable Wi-fi or at McDonald’s.

Then ask your kids: What can bored privileged teens, with broadband access and computers, do to help others? Empathy is an action verb.

Norma Floyd
Lexington, Mass.

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