Why Do We Feel Our Children’s Pain?

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock, via PJ Media)

When I was pregnant with my son, someone told me that being a parent would be both harder and better than I could imagine. I had no concept of how all-consuming motherhood could be in every possible way, including when it comes to pain.

I never knew what it meant to feel someone else’s pain. Sure, if someone were hurt I could feel empathy for him, but hardly would I feel the pain myself. But that’s how it is with my kid. When my son has a bad fall, or jams his finger in a drawer that he’s not closing carefully, or when he’s battling a cold or a fever, or even when his feelings are hurt, it cuts through me like a knife. I don’t just feel sorry for him, but I feel his pain within my body. It is a physical and visceral experience. It’s hard to describe to anyone without children. But for those of us who have kissed boo boos and rocked a sick baby to sleep, we know all too well how much it hurts to see them suffer.

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