Parenting as empathy training

Watching parents (actually mothers but this also applies to involved fathers) look after babies on the plane home, it strikes me how caring for a baby provides a crash course in empathy. Forcing the imagination to new levels of perspective taking as we try to work out what they might need, why they are crying. And the baby encourages us by responding, smiling when we succeed.

I read in lots of non-academic articles that women have more empathy than men. I don’t find any empirical evidence in the literature. Parental empathy training might account for the differences we think we notice but that may just be an outcome of more women engaging closely day to day with babies…

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