Jennifer, With regards to our children, I think what you are doing with your kids is not necessarily teaching them empathy, but giving them the opportunity to open up and explore what they already have. I believe empathy comes form within. We need ways of getting in touch with it.
I struggled with Swinton’s interview – “interesting” is a good way to put it. I do like his adding “hope” to spirituality. I am not convinced about the pain issue, but if it works for him and others, so be it. My take is to help the person find meaning, purpose and connection in the midst of the pain. Take away the pain, then this is lost. We can cover up the pain, but I believe this does not help the person deal with it spiritually. When I have visited people in pain and listened to them and let them vent. I have found that during my time with them, the pain seems to lessen, which allows them to explore what they are experiencing.