Parenting an empath


Parenting an empath by Claire R.


People had started trickling in. It was a casual braai, but there were to be around thirty people kids included. Already small knots were forming, moms sitting round the kitchen table, dads following toddlers down the garden path. I saw the tension settling on her small brow. She began to flap her arms and whine seemingly without reason. I understood the signs. I was feeling it too. I gathered her up in my arms and slipped away to a bedroom.

We lay back on the bed and watched the ceiling fan go round. ‘Are you feeling a bit worried with all these people?’ I asked. She nodded. I felt her curls brush against my arm as she did. ‘There’re lots of feelings going around the room, and you can feel all of them.’ Again she nodded. I accepted her understanding without doubt. Because I knew how she was feeling. I was feeling it too. It had taken me three decades to name it, and learn tools to actively deal with it, and I was determined that she would learn a little quicker than I had. ‘All those people, bringing in all their feelings, they are separate from you. Their feelings belong to them, and even if you can see them and know just what’s going on inside their heads and hearts, they’re not your responsibility. You do you. You end here.’ I sat up and drew a circle around her with my fingers. I wasn’t as sure we were still connecting. After all, I was trying to explain something she had rarely seen me do myself. I lay back down, and she snuggled into my armpit. 

‘I’ll tell you what we can do. Let’s put up a blue shield of energy to protect us. Breathe in through your crown and when you breathe out push out a sphere of blue light.’

‘I’m scared Mommy.’

‘Bubbles. Big blue bubbles. We’ll breathe in deep,’ I took a big calming breath in, pulling from down from my belly, ‘and blow, ppppffftttttt, out big blue bubbles.’

‘Ppppppffftttttt. Look Mommy, bubbles!’

‘Look how beautiful they are, floating up. Can you see how they’re growing bigger? They growing big and round, so big that we’re inside them. Now you are you and I am me, and we’re ready for the party.’

‘They’re so beautiful.’

Once or twice in the next few hours she came to me and crawled onto my lap. She would hide her face and pull down my shirt to feed. I took similar breaks, in the bathroom or wandering round the garden for a little bit. I enjoyed myself. I initiated conversations when I felt the urge, and walked away from flares of anger that I saw shooting up. They were not my fires to put out. At the end of the day, my daughter collapsed in my arms. She wound down with a bit of screen time, losing herself in her favorite stories. I on the other hand felt energized. I was astounded at my newfound skill to walk through a social gathering whole and unscathed. I had carried out no-one’s issues and therefore had generated none myself. I was me, and releasing responsibility for others’ feelings had liberated me from their opinions as well. I had had no concern for what anyone else thought of my actions or words, and it allowed me to bloom with confidence and strength. I had acted well and with good intentions, and that was the end of the story. Even if I had judged myself to have erred, it was information to take into the future, not fodder for guilt or regret.

The ability to read others’ emotions and feel them as if they are our own is a gift, but without learning how to protect ourselves against what we learn, it can be a burden for empaths. The first reiki session I had with Colleen of Midlands House of Healing* over a year ago, I climbed up onto her table and she ‘read’ me with a pendulum. She told me, among other things, that I was an introverted empath – ‘a perfect personality for a writer’, she said. I had never heard myself described as such. I had always enjoyed my own company, and often felt uncomfortable in crowds, and knew instinctively what people wanted and how they felt, but I had assumed these to be quite common experiences. I did not know until that moment that I was an empath, and as such, had access to skills that not everyone does. Over several sessions, Colleen taught me how to protect myself from absorbing others’ emotions. She performed deep massage and cleansing rituals to help rid my physical and energy body of the emotions I had stored up. I was so good at working out other people that I barely knew where they ended and I began. As the lines sharpened, I started to more clearly understand my burden. In being able to read others, I had taken it on as my responsibility to fix them. I wanted to cure others of their sorrow and lift off their guilt and anger. Only slowly did I realize that this was a role for which I was wholly unqualified. No-one can ever truly fix another person. I could not take away anyone else’s troubles and I could not walk anyone else’s journey. All I was succeeding at was scattering bits of myself all over the globe and adrift in the energy bodies of others. It was time to find my edges, and erect some fences while I was there.

Colleen also identified my three-year-old as an empath. This I had seen in her before I had even recognized it in myself. When her father and I were sad she cried, and when we were happy she laughed. She fussed in a room full of tension and she screamed out loud when she encountered pain trapped silent inside a heart. This sensitivity had been the root of colic in her first months and brought nightmares regularly to our bed. As understanding dawned, urgency blossomed in my solar plexus and hardened quickly into resolve. I would protect her. I would protect myself. It is time to change. This depth of hers is something that can be a strength in her life. But she will have to work out how to carry it. I will show her what I can. I will walk beside her and learn. I will become who I am, and who I was meant to be – a force to be reckoned with.

*This post was sponsored by Colleen of the Midlands House of Healing (084 603 0604). She is a lifeline for empaths. She will clear what she can, and share her tools of protection. When brought into balance and managed well, the gifts of the empath can open up your life and cause it to flower with brilliance. The way forward can be filled with light if you let it.


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