TED Conversations

Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach


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How can we talk to kids?

How many of us have (albeit inadvertently) asked a child, "What are you going to be when you grow up"? Admittedly, I have caught myself doing this.

It's a bizarre way of making small-talk with a child, isn't it?
"Having fun in the sandbox? That's a cool sandcastle... so tell me, kid, what is your ultimate goal in life?" This isn't an easy question for anyone to answer, let alone a 5-year-old.

To me, this question reinforces the way our system is put together - which is designed to mold children into consumers, so they will be instrumental in our economic growth. At the same time, it is a question that can help us understand what drives our kids, what they are passionate about, what their dreams are...

In this article, Jennifer Fulwiler proposes that we should altogether stop asking kids this question, as it "reinforces the idea that the way to find identity and value is through career" and "undermines the concept of vocation":

How can we talk with kids, encourage them to explore who they are, and get them excited about who they will become, without asking such a weighty question? How can we allow them to expand their imaginations, and let them know they are taken seriously at the same time? How can we differentiate things like a purpose in life, as opposed to a career, in a way that children can focus on and hopefully achieve their passions?

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    Jul 10 2013: Lizz, i have been working on this question for last 8 months. We have been working to develop an education network for kids who are out of school. They are more than 7 million which are out of school. When we engaged these kids and try to communicate our values to them, we found different patterns. For example, A for apple may be the best start to teach a kid (4 years) whose mother language is not English, it took us more time to convince the kid to memorize A for Apple. But when we involved them in Activity Based Coaching (ABC) model we found better timings to learn. Now we dont only teach them A for Apple, we give them Apple. They learn how to find an apple in market, how to select healthy apple, how to wash it before eating, listen to the story of Apple Boy who discovered why apple fell on ground, and dispose the waste of eaten apple in a dustbin. This whole activity took 1 hour and 10 kids never forgot the procedure to eat an apple. They learned more quickly and easily.
    In this way, i feel talking to kids should be more than mere a talk and may involves more of activity. You provide them different sets of activities to select. Their selection will talk to you about their interest rather asking them direct question.
    • Jul 12 2013: I really like the apple example. I similarly taught my little one to wash her hands every time with a hand wash. Now she does it on her own most of the times. She is about 2years old now.
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        Jul 12 2013: We are working to generate similar activities to teach kids through activities.
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      Jul 13 2013: Great I will consider this example with my toddler son
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        Jul 15 2013: Regis, i would suggest you to record this video and post it for others and you can always keep it for other toddlers you may have in near future :).
        We are developing A-Z activities you can help us by teaching it your kids and showing the world so that other teachers and parents can benefit out of it.
    • Jul 14 2013: Qamar, this is truly inspiring! Communication is not just about talking and listening, it's about doing. Well done, I'd love to know more about your project!
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        Jul 15 2013: Thanks LIZ, your words are encouraging for me.
        i have recently posted an idea of Universal Network of Education on TEd. You can learn about my vision from there and can help us by suggesting your idea of educating kids as your profile says you are passionate about kids education.
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      Jul 16 2013: It is very nice to get an idea of what you are working on.
      I think that your method of interacting with kids is absolutely convincing. Because by teaching them things associated to a simple apple, you are actually help them to develop the ability to think perspectively and making connections between different issues which appear to be very useful for problem solving and generating new ideas.
      Additionally, it can also help to introduce global issues to the future generations through simple every day objects. That is truly amazing I really hope to join you one day.
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    Jun 27 2013: That's awesome Lizanne. It's been fascinating and helpful to me to understand how my kids engage with the world. It's allowed me to walk Jake's line fine line with a little more conviction.

    There have been many suggestions here and the basis of them all it seems to me is listening. The willingness to listen with the ears of your heart to young people gives them the belief that they are worthy and respected.

    This provides them the ability to feel trusted and develop a deep level of self confidence. Could be the basis of a revolution based on self esteem.
    • Jun 28 2013: Morgan, 'the ears of your heart'.
      LOVE that.

      I believe the importance of self-esteem is underestimated. Embracing emotion, learning respect through self-exploration, putting empathy into practice and genuine communication are essential tools for our children, and ourselves.
      I believe also, that we have the power to change our minds, but that kids have the power to change the world.
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        Jun 28 2013: Me too Lizanne.. I do believe that our young people have the opportunity to shift a lot of the craziness that we've created. They have the energy, passion, and creativity to make some big and important things happen.

        Part of the challenge is that when us as adults struggle with our own self esteem, and when we're overly focused on our own survival/thrival we don't give our kids the empathy and listening they need...and the cycle of low self esteem perpetuates.

        Having mentors/elders/coaches who are solid and able to put their needs aside and respond to others (empathy) is super important.
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        Jun 28 2013: I am also thrilled that more teens and parents are considering alternative options that include "finding your passion" or "discovering how to give the gift that I am on this planet to give."

        With this, I am super fascinated to see how it plays out, as saying that and doing that are really different.

        I feel lucky that I get to spend time helping teenagers build the skills they're going go need to navigate these waters
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    Jun 24 2013: Before you answer listen to a wise man

    On Children
    Kahlil Gibran

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.
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      Jun 24 2013: Beautiful Renee......thanks:>)
    • Jun 24 2013: Absolutely wonderful, Renee.

      I so agree - my children are a product of my genes, and my husbands genes, but they are very much their own individual selves. It is my job as a mother to help them along and gradually move away from me, with the strength and confidence to be independent. It's the paradox of parenting, and the beauty of it at the same time.
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      Jun 24 2013: And another wise man, John Lennon..

      "When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
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      Jun 25 2013: Wonderful Renee......Thanks for sharing.... I am fond of Kahlil....
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    Jun 25 2013: My parents never asked me what I wanted to be when I was growing up, and I am incredibly thankful for it!

    Instead, they did their best to encourage every interest I had. I went to science and history camps, dug for fossils, and worked with my school's science club to save acres of rainforest from deforestation. I had a microscope, for which my mother graciously pricked her finger (many, many times) to let me look at her blood cells with. I also played as a forward on my high school soccer team, and had an active social life. There was never extracurricular overload for me, or any pressure to choose something to do with myself when I grew up.

    As an adult, I'm doing work that I absolutely love and have 2 children (3 and 5 years old) of my own. I am definitely trying to follow my parents' example in this area.
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      Jun 25 2013: Hi Madeline! You are new to TED conversations? Welcome:>)

      I don't recall being asked that question either, and felt that all exploration was encouraged:>)
      It makes a HUGE difference in a persona's life!

      I sincerely hope you bandaged your mom's finger with "star" or "angel" Band-Aids, or something cool like that! LOL:>)
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        Jun 25 2013: Thank you, Colleen! Glad to be here!

        I don't remember giving her any Band-Aids, but I did make her grilled cheese to say thank you. :)
    • Jun 27 2013: Hi Madeline,
      thanks so much for your story - I was raised similarly. In fact, I told my parents the other day how grateful I am to them, for giving me the gift of solitude. They allowed me so much time to myself, to explore and discover, that I still consider the possibilities endless!
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    Jun 25 2013: Simple answer, empathy. Put yourself in the place of that child and try to see the world through their eyes. Imagine yourself in their world in their body at that moment. It works for adults too.
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    Jul 15 2013: First understand that you were once a kid, and how you would have felt
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    Jul 6 2013: LIZANNE!!!....LOOK WHAT I FOUND........

    • Jul 6 2013: Mary, this is golden!!! Straight from source! Thank you!!!
      I loved how Logan said that question is posed with the intention of finding out how kids can make a living, not how to make a life.
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      Jul 8 2013: "If your work isn't what you love, then something isn't right." - Talking Heads (David Byrne)

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        Jul 8 2013: I had never heard this song before.
        Thanks for sharing.
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      Jul 9 2013: Right on Mary!!
      Thanks for your awesome work
      I appreciate your wonderful energy and
      look forward to reading your inspiring posts:)

      "Happy and Healthy"
      ........let Logan guide our way!!
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        Jul 9 2013: Hi Juliette!!

        Ah shucks......all I did was share a link :)

        Wasn't that kid something else?
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        Jul 12 2013: Hi Juliette, I meant to reply to your other comment yesterday....but I keep getting interrupted and I have lost track of my comments.

        Thank you for your kind words Juliette.
        I also enjoy reading you wonderful comments.
        Bright and cheery......

        Have a great weekend.......which is just around the corner!!
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          Jul 12 2013: Thank you Mary M.! There are so many wonderful people in this world, and only a few who have the innate talent to create a warm sense of community, a cohesion, that is crucial for growth......The world needs a lot more of you in it.
  • Jun 28 2013: Always talk to the 'adult' you hope the child will become.
  • Jun 28 2013: In a another post I said my father taught me nothing, that's not exactly true...

    I was lucky as I always regarded him as personal tutor, and that was always the impression given. Taught me the marvels of the oceans, the vastness of the land, the bounty of nature, the mechanics of celestial bodies in the sky, the beauty that surrounds us all. Always willing to show and encourage me to explore brave new worlds, of both sciences and the arts, while showing me the abundance of opportunity that exists for me. Always there to help me with my homework. Always there to just make me laugh and just let me be the child.

    But I'll tell you, it wasn't all sugar coated, I was told about the mean side of life too, it shocked me, it made we aware of the dangers out there, to know and be told that is vitally important to for a child. That knowledge served me well. There were explanations, always showing me the right way.

    As I grew up, again, always there to show me alternative points of view, and not to be judgmental. No matter what people's lifestyle was, I learned it was a matter of choice, and to respect others choices. Always there to entertain me, always there to cheer me up when I was down, always there to inspire me when I was up. Always there when ever I was in need, no matter what time of day, though those difficult years.

    I look back now and i remember how big and broad... or maybe it seems just seems that way as I was small, viewing the world with a child's eyes. From big and broad, to much thinner today, maybe that's old age, maybe that's because I've grown up, maybe it's both.

    It's funny how old age tricks the mind, as you realize, that the same stories told years ago are still recanted to you verbatim today, but even though I know them and remember them well, sometimes I indulge, and show my respects for all that was done for me. So I just listen and remember the past.

    Who is he?

    He is my father. He is your father. He is the father of children today. He is tv.
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      Jun 28 2013: Wow Tify, yes, you are so right, tv is everybody's father......and yes, even though we have, for example, seen a program many times, we will sit and watch it again......like old re-runs of our favorite show growing up.

      This is a good lesson that when our real parents repeat the same story for the upteenth time, we should listen and indulge them........and also when our children repeat a story do the same.

      We need a conversation on "How do you talk/listen to your parents"........Lizanne (wink wink....hint hint)
      • Jun 28 2013: When you watch the news tonight, maybe you'll see an old man with white hair, he represents your virtual father, and all that it entails.
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          Jun 29 2013: Tify, I can understand what you are saying.........but it is a sad thing to have a tv represent your dad.

          But I know you are correct in saying this.
          Alot of kids just have as their caretaker a tv set.
      • Jun 29 2013: I was talking about this Mary with some people, and read the comment I wrote, to some of them and maybe you too, it feels like a real gut punch at the last line. Others mentioned in the conversation after they got over the wow! of it had two alternative viewpoints, those being; (not including yours)

        That maybe what's really sad is that your father is not taking up the role.

        The other camp saw it as well look at all the benefits that the child is getting.

        Surprisingly some even went as far as saying that, in some circumstances they could see it as a better father, as certain very negatives aspects of human personality are not forcibly inflicted on the child, and therefore the child is safer.

        I must agree, I certainly can see the reasoning in that argument, and it really does hold water as a safer possibly viable alternative to anger frustration and abuse of of "real" person.

        Strangely, and as an adjunct, I also was watching something else recently, that now seems to clearly show the younger generation are more comfortable with machines and communicating through/with them, than in a direct person to person setting.

        I am surprised that you answered Mary, I'm not surprised it got no likes, I really did get this feeling when reading this out loud two days ago to a group, the same initial response was there in that it's one aspect of the question that Lizanne posed that really no-none whats to admit. A dark dirty secret of sorts.

        I get the feeling that a nicely worded platitude would have gone a long way in reaching many more ears, which to me, for many reasons, is a damn shame.
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          Jun 30 2013: Waxing grandiloquence is ok.....but sometimes, as in your case, speaking truth from your heart is just as moving and poignant.

          I have no problems interacting with people who are honest in their communication.
          Don't be surprised if I answer you when you speak truth and your words resonate with me.

          And Tify, I really feel you speak alot of truth, and you have quite a bit of insight into alot of social issues.

          And yes, even though I am not accustomed to speaking in such terms, it is a d____ shame that people do not realize the truth of your words........but, perhaps you may look at it this way------maybe, just maybe, they have nothing to add to your already honest contribution.

          Thank you for not keeping your thoughts and insights to yourself.
      • Jun 30 2013: I honestly admit Mary, it's honestly what I feel, and I did wax lyrical, and I deliberately wrote that last line leaving it to the last word.

        I wanted it to be a gut wrenching thing, something to think about, because all you have to do is look at advertising now .. the hammer over the head, as people dont react, think, get emotional, unless you do something like this, and because of the experience below I had with these kids below, and my own childhood, I can't sit by and say nothing.

        I have to at least try and make people think about it, not because it's an idea worth sharing, but because children are subject to our whims, fancies, idea's, frustrations and pain. And if we are going to ever make any progress, WE have to know and understand that we are the cause, and we are the cure.

        It's the same feeling when you see a kid on death row, who's mother was psychotic and on medication, and by another who took advantage and impregnated her. You know that people want the fix, ie the death penalty, but dont want to see and understand the cause. And until we put the effort in to get to that place, killing the victim of brutal circumstance, is no way forward.

        I apologize if I go on, but when you've seen the rewards in these kids eyes, hearts and minds, as I said below, even if it's only for two weeks, you wonder when will society as a whole get over the hump of the way it isolates and alienates so many children, who are unwitting victims themselves.
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          Jun 30 2013: No need to apologize ever for "going on".....your point is well taken.
          Thank you for your contribution, and for speaking honestly about this topic.
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        Jul 1 2013: Hi May,I just want to tell you some news about filial piety here.

        Yesterday,1, July,China enacted a new law which stipulates that children must often go home to see their parents,here is the link


        Take a look,this also triggers an enforcement issue.

        Be well

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          Jul 2 2013: Hi Jaden,

          Yes, I read that news and have been sharing it with my elderly friends here in Florida, and with my family.

          Also, I shared it with a 17 year old TED member yesterday in another conversation about lessons we can learn from older ones.

          Here is the news the way I read it:


          I will be reading your link and comparing information.

          Jaden, may I ask, did you get the two emails I sent you?

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          Jul 2 2013: Wow, the article really brought out more details than it's American counterpart.

          It is interesting that it mentions a "spiritual" and "moral" responsibility to the elderly.

          Also, they thought to include the children's employer in the legislation, providing time off to visit parents......did I understand that part correctly?

          And, lastly, the five points at the end were interesting.

          How has it come to this Jaden?
          Should a government have to make a law to force the children to love their aging parents?

          I am going to start a topic of conversation on this topic.
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        Jul 3 2013: I read Yahoo's news also,it provides the overall circumstance,the thoughts which evokes are quite right and relevant.Yes,the law is made our there,but the question then is how to put forward its purpose,this is very much thorny and complex. Yes,you understand it exactly correct.As it was stated,the employers,children,parent,legislation,these parties are interconnected,some even has little say about their free time. On the other hand, if a sue is unavoidable, which includes parents and children, attention,they are from one family,the sue is obviously a stigma of the family.Morals are playing a enormous part in our lives,even relatively bigger than laws.But I think you would misunderstand the part 'spiritual',when we referring to spirit,it not likely meansfaith, or soul,or some invisible substance of our body,but means our extensive styles of life,for instance,the interaction of family members,moderate sports exercises,hobbies,and things that facilitates our pursuit of happiness.How is it come to this point? I guess is the increasing time of children being away from their parents,intentionally or not,parents are quite upset. Especially,in rural areas, elderly are living alone when their children are pursuing happiness in the distant city in the coast,in some village you can not even see a single young people.Some people can't afford the loss of leaving their job for days,some can't afford the costs of transporting tickets,etc. My parents think my situation is quite understandable,thus I'm not in the exact position,I can't give some specific causes.I don't think a law is an ideal measure to manage this issue,but the deep causes are too far away from being solved voluntarily.I wonder what kind of introduction you will offer on your topic. I didn't get the emails.What a pity! What did you send,do you know my email address?
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          Jul 4 2013: Hi Jaden, your comment is very enlightening.......thank you for clarifying the Chinese version of the word spiritual........so spiritual is linked to the pursuit of happiness?

          I guess I also ask myself the same question....how did it get to this point?

          I think that would make a wonderful title for the Conversation, don't you think?

          "How did it get to this point?"........

          I will submit the conversation tomorrow.

          The emails I sent you, I sent you through your TED profile.
          I just clicked "Send Jaden an email", in the right corner of your profile.
          You should have received two emails from TED that read: Mary M sent you a message.

          What I sent you was a reply to a question you asked in another conversation.
          Not a big deal.

          There is a character limit there. So you can not write too much.

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        Jul 4 2013: Spiritual relates to the pursuit of happiness,but narrower.Say,if happiness is the whole status and feeling,which includes nice house,high-income job,good relationships with families,etc,then spiritual happiness is good relationship with families,I think in this case spiritual equals mental in China.

        A wonderful title,yes,I'm pretty keen to see people talking on this conversation.But I'm concerned that how can we steer away from talking about elderly,I remember you posed another topic on the elderly issue got few people participated long time ago.

        Mary,you know,I'm interested in the words 'the pursuit of happiness',it is on the declaration of independence,and a Will Smith's move 'The Pursuit of Happyness',that drew a lot of my attention.Can you please tell me your understanding of it?
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          Jul 5 2013: Thank you for further clarification of spiritual. It is very helpful.

          As far as the pursuit of happiness.......it is a kind of mirage isn't it?

          Pursuit....meaning chase after....not necessarily obtain it.....no guarantee.....But, you are free to chase it.....you will have the liberty to chase it......

          Happiness to me is something you can feel, inside, it does not come from external forces. Kind of like a joyful feeling that is always inside you, and reflects in your countenance.
          Also, there is contentment, satisfaction with your NOW moment in life.

          Happy if you are single, happy if you are married.
          Happy if you are with friends, happy if you are alone.
          Happy if you live in the city, happy if you live in the country side.

          It is a state of being for me.

          At least now Jaden, in this stage of my life.
          I am not looking for anyone or anything to make me happy.

          I am happy by myself. I do not chase things, or people to make me happy.
          I do not need to make more money to make me happy.
          I don't need an ipad, iphone, ipod.....I have I............I am the most important posession I have.........so I am happy.

          Do you understand?

          That is how I feel now.
          Because my life experience has brought me to this realization, and truth.
          My truth, based on my life journey.

          I think many immigrants do not understand declaration of independence.
          I think they view "America = guaranteed happiness".....some get very discouraged at all the hard work one must be willing to do to succeed.

          Arnab Dutta and Krisztian Pinter wrote some definitions in a conversation a while ago that shed light on different view of governments from different countries.

          Perhaps you will enjoy reading this lighthearted list of governments and their definition.

          Scroll down a little on this link to read:


          Which do you think the people will be able to pursue happiness better?
    • Jun 30 2013: WOW.
      Tify, your comment is extremely powerful, and says so much about why society is the way it is today.
      I agree with Mary, and also say "Thank you for not keeping your thoughts and insights to yourself."

      This is so vital!!! Television and media is the thing that is destroying communication, in my opinion. It is warping too many minds, minds that are not strong enough to realize what is truth and what isn't. You clearly had the strength to see the difference, but there are too many who are influenced to the point of forgetting their own beliefs. That is a dangerous development. As long as the TV is as powerful at it is, society will suffer.
      • Jun 30 2013: I say "damn shame" here are some reasons why:

        A lady I stayed with Europe ran a creche, 8 kids aged from 8-12, from 4pm to 6pm, to be safe until their parents collected them. Fair enough. I saw they were put in front of the tv, again understandable. 2 weeks I played a educational game with them 1/2 of them made a lego castle, the other 1/2 had toy/miniature metal cars. When the first group made the their building, the others took the cars and tried to ram the building to collapse it. Great fun, removing their frustrations. As the days went by, the kids (who swapped roles often) learned, and learned well, basic engineering principles of how to build better buildings. Sadly for all of us, when I left, we cried, not because I was leaving, it's as if all knew, it would be back to the old ways - the moment I was out of the door.

        I realized at that moment, we too often we don't look to ourselves, and what actions we take, day in and day out, that can drive the very child into isolation.

        Maybe we don't want to know the issue, we just want a resolution, or some platitude. To see that I need only look to America. School shootings are an example of this, school after school was exposed to these shootings. The "solution" was to put in metal detectors. For a while it worked, but the underlying isolation issue(s) were never addressed. People were genuinely surprised / shocked that then a cinema became the outlet. The response - beef up security.

        It seems inevitable they will continue, until WE really put the time & effort in to TALK and LISTEN to kids, & stop driving them away by our actions.

        How many nanny cases have there been? So now we cctv nannies. How many ask - if you have to go to those lengths is it worth putting your child at risk?

        The 1993 film "A perfect world" shows many other aspects. I recommend it.

        Isn't the original question “What are you going to be when you grow up?” - just another platitude - that again too often spoken in a non-serious tone.
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          Jun 30 2013: You know, I have also seen kids who have been sitting quietly in front of a tv set, come alive and jump for joy when an adult actually becomes aware of their presence, and engages them in a hands-on activity.

          The tv is a poor substitute for human interaction.

          Thank you for this reflection.There are many fields today where society looks for quick fixes without looking at the "ROOT" of the problem.......it is the path of least resistance.

          It is everywhere.....in my opinion, we need to individually be aware of this tendency.
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    Jun 26 2013: Playing role reversal.

    When my son was very young , we stayed in Saudi Arabia, he came back to India 4 months ahead of me and when i joined him, he was having lots of trouble adjusting to the new environment,also this was his first exposure to school. My heart bled and i was disturbed to see him like that.

    I came up with a plan to play role reversal with him.

    My kid will be my father and will answer my querries.

    Like i donot want to go to school today what should i do? I am afraid of certain teacher what should i do? I do not always like the food served to me and so on.

    Through his answers i could peep in to his heart and brain and will come to know what he needs from me and how can i help him. Prabably it also spurred his thought process and he started finding solutions for himself. Very soon he became a happy child as before. Now he is a bright medical student and in a few years he wiil practice medicine. I am happy.
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    Jun 25 2013: Instead of asking what the kids want to be when they grow up, we should ask them if we can grow down and party with them as kids. Childhood is a cherished period of life not only for the kids but for the parents too because it is a rare oppertunity for the parents to participate in a process of observing a better, fuller and wiser human being coming to shape in front of us.
    I did my best to relive a second life with my son, learning creyon painting, bayblade running, playing angry birds (so many techniques, you know), reading comics, then when he was in teens discussing girls, drinking beer without telling his mom, fishing (I entirely learnt it, no previous skills). Now that he is eighteen and he keeps his mobile conversations to himself - I wonder what I want to be when I am a kid again.
    Edit: I have yet not given up. I am revising differential equations from my son's books now and discovered that for second order equations I had some grey area that I can brush up now.
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      Jun 25 2013: Well said Pabitra...I LOVE it....ask them if we can grow down and party with them!!! Did you by any chance see the comment in which I provided the link with an article in "Maturity Magazine" about my play group? The article is titled..."Play with kids your own age". We're not really sure why we were featured in that magazine, because we're not sure if we are "mature" yet! LOL

      FYI -
      There seems to be a certain time when they start keeping information to themselves (teens), and now that my "children" are in their 40s, I am getting some of that information! LOL:>)
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        Jun 25 2013: I must have missed it Colleen. Will you please give me the link?
        It is silly to call people of age mature :) I am not going to be mature ever. A week ago, I had a round of kite flying and my neck and arm were sore from the exertion. I tried to explain to Sumana, in between scoldings, why it is so important to fly a kite at 51 :D
        It's a relief to know that I can make up on lost information sometime later and thank you for sharing this piece of info.
    • Jun 26 2013: YES!!
      Growing down! I love it!!

      Right now, my parents are visiting from the states. My kids are seeing first-hand that I am also someone's kid, and they adore it! My dad will still tickle me, which makes them just giggle to pieces.
      The other day, I almost peed myself when we all put on our baggy clothes and stuffed them with blankets, cushions, plush toys... then we rolled around on the floor and bumped into each other.
      That was definitely some growing-down time!!!

      Colleen, thank you for those links! Wonderful!
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    Jun 25 2013: Lizanne, I read a joke last week: Child: Dad, where do babies come from. Dad: Total shock and silance. Child: Its ok Dad if you don't know the answer just say so.

    As parents we agreed to answer all question in the most honest means possable. We did not set out to destroy Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny ... but a serious question should be delt with in the same manner .. serious. It is easier to use a correct medical term than to start the cutsie name game ... this does not mean to be blunt and uncaring ...

    It is my opinion that the kids have enough friends ... they need parents that are honest and can be trusted. When one of the children comes to talk ... stop what you are doing and look at them and reply as best you can.

    Kids do not come with a operations manual. Do the best we can and supply them with love, respect, and honesty.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Jun 25 2013: Loved your contribution Robert!!
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      Jun 25 2013: Good one Robert!
      That reminds me of a story with my daughter when she was about 2-3 years old! She was playing in the yard with her friend, when she came running in the house asking.....mom.....where did I come from?

      I always tried to answer their questions with age appropriate honestly. As I was pondering how to simply and honestly explain the reproductive system, she got impatient with me and said.....mom.....my friend is from Burlington.....where did I come from? She wanted the name of a town/city.....not the reproductive story!!! LOL:>)
    • Jun 26 2013: Wonderful, Robert!

      When my kids started asking me 'THE' question, I pulled out Lennart Nillson's 'Miracle of Birth' DVD. We got (age-appropriate) books from the library, I told them all about how they were born, the weeks before, the days before, the minutes before... and look at them now!

      You mentioned Santa and the Easter Bunny. My daughter has wiggly teeth, so we're getting frequent visits from the Tooth Fairy these days. She told me, that a friend in her class told her that the Tooth Fairy isn't real, and that Mama and Papa take the tooth away. She asked me, if that is true? So, I asked her, "What do you think?", knowing I was throwing the ball in her court. She grinned from ear to ear, and said "No! The Tooth Fairy IS real!"

      When she is done believing in fairies, she'll let me know. Till then, we've got fairies galore.
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    Jun 24 2013: Encourage them to play!
    I'm reading a new book titled, "Free To Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self Relient, And Better Students for Life" by Peter Gray. I highly recommend it.
    This will also help us all reconnect to a part of our life the that we great overlook.

    Play more and reconnect with the child inside you. Other children will like you better.
    • Jun 24 2013: Yes, yes, yes, Theodore!

      There was a conversation a while back about the importance of playing pretending and make-believe:

      For some reason, society seems to determine that becoming an adult means neglecting the child we once were, when in reality, we still ARE that child. I agree, if we are in touch with that child, we will be able to communicate better not only with children, but with each other.

      I can't wait to hear more about this book, if you'd like to share any insights!
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        Jun 24 2013: I first became interested in the topic of play after hearing the TEDTalk by Stuart Brown
        A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

        His research started with criminals where he found that they suffered from a lack of, you guessed it, PLAY, in their upbringing. So we have some idea of what the deficiencies ends up looking like.

        Gray's book has some 46 items listed in the index related to "play."

        He write, The drive to play is a huge part of a children's natural means for self-education, so a portion of this book is about the power of play." And adds that for the past half century or more we have seen an erosion of children's freedom to play.

        • Jun 26 2013: This is truly fascinating, Theodore! Thanks for these links - this whole train of thought is very much in tune with how I personally feel, and particularly as a Mom.

          I recently stumbled across this book, called 'A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder' by Eric Abrahamson and David H Freedman:
          Kids' lives tend to be cluttered, unorganized, even chaotic - they are still learning organizational skills. How many times I try color-code the toy bins, the doll clothes are still always thrown in together with the Legos, and my kids can still always find what they need. What's more, they will invent new ways to combine their toys to create new games.
          Yet another exploration in how adults can learn from kids... perhaps?
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        Jun 24 2013: Lizanne,
        You took the words right out of my mouth.....Yes....Yes....Yes!!! :>)
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    Jul 22 2013: I was just thinking about how this conversation is dealing with how to talk with children........and somewhere in TED land, people are discussing the conciousness of plants.

    You gotta love the TED community.
  • Jul 21 2013: A woman I know is an incredible parent of two children who are now 18 and 12. From the moment she knew she was pregnant, she studied all the books and decided which ideas made sense. What she did, essentially (and does still), was give her child total respect and her full attention when they interact. It is a full time job. She and her husband home-schooled both of them until her daughter entered a public high school in the 9th grade. You can imagine how concerned her parents were, school memories being not so good for either parent, but she did well, was on the Varsity basketball team, and had a super time. To my knowledge, the siblings never fight; they have been allowed to explore their interests, but not required to continue if they lose interest. In other words, they were given love, respect, attention and time to learn who they are at a very early age, and they are amazing. I want my friend to start a parenting school as part of the Planned Parenthood program.
    • Jul 22 2013: seems all good up until ... "Planned Parenthood program", and the zeal of Sanger regarding negative eugenics, it's goal to change humanity by stopping reproduction of those considered unfit. Or that Sanger said the white race was superior to blacks when speaking at KKK meetings.

      Then on the other hand I've never seen the need for such organizations, as there are alternatives, but America does love politicizing things, and having lobbyists for all and sundry.

      Regarding the kids in the above paragraph, one thing does seem missing.... Drive.
      • Jul 22 2013: Out of curiosity, Tify, why do you think drive is missing from Stephanie's story? When I read it, I really don't see a lack of it at all, but I may be interpreting it differently. People who home-school their children are, to me, very driven indeed (I know many personally)! Just curious!
        • Jul 22 2013: Thats a good question Lizanne.

          and the paragraph came across to me, as the kids had lack of drive, or for Mary's sake :) Passion.

          That really what I felt was missing, Energy, Passion, Drive, although it might not be missing. Sometimes when people write the core of a subject can be elusive, and open to interpretation.

          And then like Mary they jump all over you. :)
      • Jul 22 2013: I should probably have not capped "planned parenthood," as I really meant a low cost program available for lower income parents.
        • Jul 22 2013: Whats the difference?

          and why should it only be for "lower income parents"?

          Are you telling me that wealthy parents always get it right when it comes to kids?
      • Jul 22 2013: I don't understand the "what's the difference" question. Anything that is available for low income parents is always available to upper income parents as well. The final question is just silly :)

        Also, with respect to "drive" -- I am not sure who would do the driving, nor where one would drive them. They excel at anything they do -- chess, music, photography, art -- and they are happy, joyful, loving kids. The recent graduate is going to junior college for photography classes -- that is her passion -- as well as taking the basics before moving on to a university for the last two years.
      • Jul 23 2013: Tify, I see - you were referring to the kids, not the parents...
        "Sometimes when people write the core of a subject can be elusive, and open to interpretation."
        100% true!
    • Jul 22 2013: Stephanie, this is wonderful! Parenting is absolutely a full-time job, and as many agree, a very under-estimated vocation!
      There are so many people who research and read and attend classes about how to raise their children. These things are there for a reason - and not just in the States! There is an abundance of parenting courses where I live, which are often fully booked. There are many parents, myself included, who wish to be the very best parent possible, for the sake of my children, and if there is something I need to learn, by golly, I want to learn it!
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    Jul 17 2013: Kids should be treated as kids, not simply small adults. Shower unconditional love on them. Give them an allowance, and help them learn about saving and budgeting. Have them help you with doing small housework so they can be with you and learn about life.
    • Jul 18 2013: John, superb thoughts.
      Your comment about small housework reminded me of something that happened yesterday. My daughter, who is almost 7, asked me yesterday if she could wash the dishes. I was thrilled! When I was growing up, washing the dishes was a precious time with either my Dad, or my Mom, or a Grandmother, when we would talk or sing, or just be silent, in any way, together.
  • Jul 10 2013: just talk normal. Treat them like just another human, as equals. Ask questions about what they are doing, how they like stuff. Show interest. Everybody loves that. Sometimes it helps to get down to their level, sit on the floor or kneel down so your eyes are on their level. Have fun!
  • Jul 7 2013: After reading all the comments, I come to some conclusion, that being that the comments here are personalizations and somewhat of a middle class mindset.

    One has to wonder are people narrow minded - Or is it that people can only really see their own position and not others - Or are they just projecting it (the question) to what it means to just - their children.

    And if so, what does that really and honestly mean for the millions of children who are in poverty, labor, and or in other dire circumstances around the world.

    Or does their far and distant voice not matter.. as no-one speaks for them, and no-one sees them.

    Will they ever achieve their passions? - Or do you write that kind of thinking off as a child of poverty.

    Are those very dreams your child has, and you have for your child - a luxury not afforded to, and far out of reach of these children of another land.

    Are we not all children of this planet? Are we not all parents of the children of the world? Is our very future not predicated on theirs...

    As Lizanne poses - "children are the future"... I pose "who's children?"...

    While you think about that and see the urls below, I'd urge you to think... there, but for the place I was born, go I.



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      Jul 7 2013: Tify, I cannot speak for everyone, but may I share something with you?

      Millions of individuals are working worldwide to help improve the way of life of many.
      Educating them. Instructing them in many diverse fields, to help them become loving parents, loving wives, loving husbands, responsible citizens. To improve literacy, and hygiene, and other social issues.

      I personally am part of a global educational work seven million plus strong.

      Through study of the Bible, I have come to know that the world will change for the better in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I, as well as those who belong to my faith, work locally to change one person at a time.

      TED has made me realize that there are many many individuals who share this desire for a better world.

      There are billions of individuals living worldwide. Many of the changes that need to occur, need to come from within the individual......corruption has to be eliminated........from government mainly......and then there has to be a trickle down effect.

      Please know that amidst all of the terrible things you see, and I see, and we all see, there are millions of individuals working for a change, and praying for a change.

      The question is..........will we live to see it?

      My sincere desire is that the answer will be a resounding YES!!

      (Did you ever see the link Lizanne gave of the fill-har-monic on vimeo?)

      • Jul 8 2013: Of course you can share Mary, it's always a pleasure to listen. But sometimes we respectful disagree.

        Which is the exact reason I mentioned those 'unseen' children. To open people's eyes, and as Linzanne says that dreams, and opportunity are up for grabs in the 'western world', and that has been the view point of most comments here.

        As for praying for change, I nave never believed in it, change is inherently up to us. Small decisions effect change, one such example would be NOT to upgrade to the newest iphone, as the minerals, metals, and other elements needed have major social and medical implications to the very children people people pray for. Seems to me that one has a very simple choice, weather one's brave enough to stand by the courage of one convictions is another. Which is somewhat ironical as someone was crucified for actually doing that.

        As I mentioned before we, of which I am a part do provide free education and training to over 500,000 people across the world. But unfortunately that's not enough. The plight of the Philippines, and many other countries, debt repayment which is forced by the IMF, the banks, keeps places suppressed, with little or no education, medical nor social services. And the children suffer. How much is this debt, less than the cost of a fighter jet. The reason I say this is too often the facts are mismanaged, where one puts it down to corruption*, and does not realize that half of all the money in used for interest on debt.

        I find it laudable that you hope the answer will be yes, I dont believe that to be the case.

        Not unless we can all see that everyone's child, every person irrespective of where they are born deserves and should be afforded equal opportunity. The reason for this post.

        *corruption: Like the IMF giving a loan to the Philippine government, to build infrastructure projects, like a nuclear power plant, which was designed and built by GE, on a major earth quake fault lines, many years ago. Still inoperative.
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          Jul 9 2013: It seems that you are preaching to the choir Tify.

          Many of us are like you, doing something to change the world.

          Don't you believe your efforts will help?

          Sounds like you feel something bigger has to happen.

          If so, then what do you propose the bigger thing that has to happen should be?
      • Jul 9 2013: Not really Mary.

        While some of us are doing something, and that's worthwhile, often our efforts get massively trumped. You only need see the latest Ted talk on corruption.


        A bigger thing, would be that, Shell, Dictators, Misters et al...responsible for state assets who use them illegally, like in that Ted talk, are simply jailed, the funds repatriated, and Shell etc left out in the cold, 1/2 billion dollars down the hole.

        If that were to happen, then the poverty and the lost dreams of those children, would soon come back, and the efforts -we- make, would then add significant value to the future of those kids.

        The way it goes now, Shell, nor HSBC are not seen to be guilty, ie they keep the assets illegally gained.

        Thats the bigger thats needs to happen to really start to make a difference in the lives of children in the (developing countries - who am i kidding being politically correct) - 3rd world.
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          Jul 9 2013: As I listened to that talk yesterday.......I kept thinking of you over and over.

          Just know that something bigger will happen Tify.......I truly believe it. I really do.

          What about the elderly? You haven't gone back and replied to my questions on the elderly?

          I'd love it if you went over and added some insights, or thoughts.

    • Jul 7 2013: This is such an important point, Tify. Your comment reminds me that dreaming of what we can achieve as kids, suggests that dreams are pretty much up for grabs in the wealthy parts of the world. Opportunity is everywhere, chances are plenty when you're lucky enough to be born in certain places...

      I do sincerely agree with Mary, too, that those chances are spreading out, slowly but surely. Indeed, the first thing that comes to mind is the Landfill Harmonic (thanks for the link, Mary) as well as the inspiring Richard Turere, and his invention that "Made Peace with the Lions":

      Whether we will live to see the fundamental change, that promises the same chances and opportunities to all children, around the globe, I don't know. But you know, the chances and opportunities children have in the poorer regions of the world may be just as challenging and their achievements are just as worthy of celebration. But the chances for children to 'just' be children may be the greatest challenge they face.
      • Jul 8 2013: I'm really glad you see it as an important point, I felt like it was an issues that was / is being completely overlooked. And I can't be one of those people who say, I'm alright, so to hell with the rest.

        For as long as we continue to do that, we will always have children who are slaves.

        So I thought I would speak up for all those that have no voice.
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    Jul 4 2013: My fiance is spending the day at a children's charity today. He was terrified! Children 'freak him out' because he doesn't know how to talk to him. I just received a text message and picture that one of the kids drew for him - he is having an absolute blast! Before he left this morning I told him to 'just be'... Don't put your expectations or ideas onto kids, let them tell you how they feel and what they think. I think it was Picasso who said that the hardest thing an adult can do is to think like a child - but when we do, it is fantastic!
  • Jul 4 2013: This is a very interesting post. I learned a long time ago not to ask my children WHAT they want to be but rather WHO. When they were very young they had no idea what I was talking about. Now they have a better understanding, but it is still a difficult conversation since most of their peers don't think this way. I also have goals for my children that are character goals. I want them to have resilience, flexibility, and the belief that sometimes just showing up is a huge step. We talk about this and I try to find things that demonstrate it in every day life and then point it out. But it isn't just talking, it is doing.
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    Jul 3 2013: A very interesting discussion. As a resilience therapist I work a lot with kids who have been bullied or who lack self-esteem and confidence. It's essential that we teach kids from very early on to be self-aware and resilient. Be honest with children - they know when we are lying anyway - and allow them to express their views and opinions. For many parents, having a child who has vastly different passions and capabilities to them (I loved dance, my father is a CA) can be tough and a challenge but allow kids the room to do what THEY are good at, rather than what you would like them to be good at.
    • Jul 4 2013: Resilience is my top goal for both my children ! It is the only way to deal with an ever changing world for the next 60-70 years. There is no knowledge base that I can provide for that. But I can aim for curiosity and resilience.
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    Jul 1 2013: Encourage self learning. Ask them questions and show them were they can find answers. Heres an idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a181ctQyGY4
  • Jun 29 2013: I thought the question was, "What do you want to DO when you grow up?"

    This question will never be retired and it should not be. It is natural. The purpose of our extended childhood is to prepare for adulthood. This question focuses attention on the future. It expresses our confidence that the child HAS a future. It does NOT impose any limits. If someone expects a particular type of answer, that expectation is the problem. Most young children do not even understand the concept of a career, they just see people doing things that seem exciting to them, and they want to do it too. It takes an adult to interpret their answer as a career choice.

    We talk to kids with open ended questions for a very good reason, to let them mentally explore all that they have already learned. The answers provide a starting point for further lessons.
    • Jun 30 2013: Barry, that one word, DO', changes the entire meaning of the question for me, opening it up and allowing much more freedom! I agree completely, that an expected answer can limit an answer to an otherwise positive, constructive question. Like you say "It takes an adult to interpret their answer as a career choice."
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    • Jun 30 2013: Yes, Keith. Such big difference between talking with someone, or to them, or even AT them.
      Eye-contact is essential.
      My son has delayed speech, probably due to the simple fact that he was more interested in climbing stuff and working on his motor skills than his language skills. Priorities! It was very hard to make eye contact with him during those years, and many of his care-givers were convinced he was autistic. I was convinced he was not, and spent a lot of time just kneeling near him, making him know I was around, without ever saying a word. We are now years down the line, and he is one of the most elaborate story-tellers I know!

      (Huge Cat Stevens fan - thanks for reminding me of that wonderful lyric!)
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    Jun 25 2013: I think that children are often censored from too much. There is a fine line between protecting their innocence and giving them a false sense of what the world is like or what people are capable of. Should they know the dangers of a kidnapper, pedafile, robber, or serial killer? I'm sure that children in the late pleistocene weren't sheltered from the butchering of a mammoth or when "Uncle Drok" was slaughtered by a saber-toothed cat. I know it's a different time, but today's world presents it's own set of dangers that children should be frightened of, not just aware of. Fear is the necessary emotion for survival. For example, children don't have a true sense of fear for what can happen if you cross the street without looking. I know from experience as my 5-year-old nephew was struck and killed by an SUV when crossing the street in his neighborhood, just three years ago.
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      Jun 25 2013: Jake,
      I am so sorry about your little nephew.....that is horrible!

      I agree with you that there is a fine line between protecting and/or giving kids any kind of false sense of what the world, and people are like.

      I happened to be in the library the other day, and overheard a program on safety for little kids. The presenter talked about fire and rescue safety, calling 911, etc. and that seemed to be only a small part of the presentation, because most of the kids seemed to know a lot about that already, which is good.

      The bulk of the conversation seemed to be about people....who to be aware of....who to let in the house....or not.....who to avoid....etc. It felt a little like the kids were being introduced to a lot of fear and apprehension. And yet, I know that this stuff is important in our world as it is today.

      When I started 1st grade, I took a public bus to and from school by myself, and thought nothing about it. Can you imagine putting a 6 year old on a public bus today by him/herself? Like you say Jake, things change in our world, and it's important to keep kids informed.

      Very sorry again about your loss.
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        Jun 25 2013: Thank you Colleen. I think that because tragic events are so televised that people in general are replacing vigilance with paranoia. My wife calls it "a mother's love for her child", which I take as insinuating in some sense that I don't love our children as much. :-) But I have to regularly persuade her to loosen the reins a bit, so to speak. It's even more difficult after the death of her sister's boy. Our children should be allowed to play in our neighborhood, or walk home from the bus stop. We have to trust that we've done our best to teach them the dangers as well as tell them to trust their instincts.

        When one of our vehicles was being repaired and she questioned how our teenage daughter might go to the mall to hang out with her friends, I suggested she could take a cab. From her reaction you would think that I was dumb enough to let our youngest play with a loaded handgun. :-) I thought back to my childhood, when I had taken a cab by myself several times, similar to your bus rides. I try and explain the odds of someone abducting her, and compare it to the odds of being killed in an auto-accident, which are much greater. My wife considers traveling in a car an accepted risk. And even though the odds of being abducted are infinitesimally small, it's a roll of the dice she can avoid, so chooses not to.

        I understand her logic, however I tend to look at things a bit different. While serving in Iraq, I was conflicted to which path I could take to work every day. One path had recently been struck by insurgent mortars. The other path had yet to have been hit. So I thought, "maybe I should take the path that has been recently hit", sort of a lightining doesn't strike the same place twice mentality. But then I would think, "no maybe I better take the other path, as the insurgents may have their sites "dialed in" to the previous path." Eventually I gave up and realized that we can be vigilant but sometimes we just have to live life and accept our fates. :-)
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          Jun 25 2013: Jake,
          It sounds like you and your wife have found the balance of loosening the reins and pulling them back in at times.

          I am glad you're back home, and I thank you for your service. While I do not like war, I totally support those who continue to fight for freedom. My father, 4 brothers, 1 sister, x-husband, many other relatives and friends served in the armed services and fought in wars.
          I cannot even begin to imagine how it feels to have to make the decision to take a path based on which one might be hit by insurgents! My heart goes out to you for what must have been a frightening experience.
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          Jun 26 2013: I can relate very very well to the "motherly love". Insulting it is, very insulting, competitive, and completely off the map. Why? I don't know, a freaking anti-social gender epidemic going on today? Sorry, I'm getting flashbacks ;() I hope I fail at predicting your future for a moment of uncontrolled thought from my past experiences, Jake.
          Sorry about your loss.
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        Jun 25 2013: Colleen, your comment reminded me of a time my kids and I left a movie theater at 11:30 in the morning.
        We had attended a 10 o'clock free viewing of a children's movie.

        The theater was packed with around 500 children from all kinds of summer programs.

        Well, as I was driving out of the parking lot, out of a theater side door comes a 5 year old.
        He opened a fire door, and stepped outside, and just as quickly the door shut behind him, and he was locked out of the theater. If I had not been there at that precise moment to see that happen, and to get out of the car to walk him back inside, I shutter to think what could have happened to him.
        He just stood there, not moving.

        It took a long time to find the party responsible for the little boy.

        I kept thinking of the little boys mom, and how she would probably never find out what her son did that morning.

        Although we want our children to retain their innocence........it seems like we have to prepare our little ones to face all kinds of dangers.

        That day provided an important lesson in life for alot of people........the child, the caretakers, the theater personnel, my kids, and me.
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          Jun 25 2013: Glad you were there Mary, to rescue the little one:>)
    • Jun 27 2013: Wow... Jake, I am so sorry about your nephew - that is truly heart-breaking. I myself was hit by a car, and consider myself extremely lucky to still be walking around. This breaks my heart.

      The world is full of dangers - all we want to do is protect children, but help them find their own way at the same time. Like you say, Jake, the line is very fine indeed.

      This is a powerful thread, thank you all for sharing these.
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      Jun 27 2013: Phew. So sorry for your family's loss Jake.

      We often say to kids "Don't talk to strangers". I believe this is a damaging idea, implying that the world is a scary place.

      When my 7 year old got lost in the grocery store, I wanted him to be able to identify a safe person and ask for help. I didn't want him to sit around looking vulnerable not being willing to talk with all the strangers out there.

      It's not "don't talk to strangers" it's "talk to the right strangers". The world of talking to strangers is much more friendly, trusting, and healthy.

      My kids and I actually practice, "is that someone you'd approach? Why? Why not?" And by listening to their responses, I got a feeling for their intuition and instinct about people. And I've learn where and where not to trust them, yet.

      I also modeled talking with strangers, both "normal" ones and potentially "dangerous" ones (like the angry drunk homeless guy in our neighborhood). I want my kids to be able to handle themselves in the real world.

      It understand how hard it can be for parents to walk that line of trussing & protecting. The results can be tragic - either as Jake experienced or years later when you have a teenager heading off into the world who doesn't feel trusted or trust themself to negotiate the world "out there".
      • Jun 27 2013: Morgan, this is a wonderful practice!!
        We're dealing with scenarios we'd rather not want to think about, but the fact is, it is better to be prepared for any eventuality. I LOVE the idea of regularly and openly talking wi kids about who would be a good person to approach if they were lost. I have never considered this, and am extremely glad you shared this, which I am definitely going to put into practice too!
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    Jun 25 2013: The last time I had the chance to spend time with my kids we colored together. Before we started drawing and coloring I told them to close their eyes and relax as much as possible. I told them to let an image naturally come to their mind whatever it may be then put it on paper. They colored heads rolling off of bodies and blood everywhere (we should have not just watched Scarface together). I KID!...Really, I'm just Kidding! This is not what they laid down on paper nor did we watched Scarface. It really started out in a dream state (bubbles) with both of them and reality slowly started to show up (people and animals). I would like to broaden their imagination as much as possible a little bit at a time.

    My oldest (7 years old) just came out of the blue one day and told me she wanted to be a designer when she grows up. I told her she has plenty of time and to just be a kid. I tell you, she is 7 going on 16. How did this happen is what gets me wondering and I believe I have the answer.

    I miss the tickle tortures and you know it's something, they always request by coming up to us and saying, "please don't tickle me, PLEASE!" with this huge grin from ear to ear. They'll start laughing and running away without even touching them. LOL Maybe we should invent tickle torture chambers instead of everyone being on some kind of happy pill.
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      Jun 25 2013: Well, design can start anytime. Designing ones own bedroom, designing a day, designing the doll house, she can build with Dad.... Designing a little bit of her life, while being ok with just being a kid. And, knowing that her kid will always be safe to come out and play, no matter what age she grows to be. You sound like a good Dad, Mr. Vincent. Sounds like life with you will be good, cause you will make sure that is so! This is good.
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        Jun 25 2013: Thanks for your kind words and advice, Crystal. Now that I think about it, I know where some of this came from. Her room! I put purple and white stripes on her walls, a sun burst design of red, yellow, and white stripes on her ceiling with stripes on the fan of red and blue alternating so when you turn the fan on it's a strobing purple effect.

        For some reason I thought she was talking about fashion design because she is so picky about what she wears.
    • Jun 26 2013: Oh my goodness, Vincent, I LIVE for tickle torture. My daughter, who will be 7 in August, does the same exact thing.

      I can't tell you how much I love what you said, that "she has plenty of time and to just be a kid". I get the impression kids are overloaded with activities, which are often geared towards a career of some kind in the future. My daughter just started ballet, and I was concerned about finding a school where 'becoming a professional ballerina' was NOT the goal. My daughter loves to dance, and is a kid. Those two ingredients do not mean, in my opinion, that she should become a professional dancer. If she DOES, then that's wonderful, If not, that's wonderful too.

      I also wholeheartedly agree with you, Crystal, that they can begin any time doing the things they like. By allowing our kids the freedom to explore and express, instead of putting any pressure on them to 'be successful' at it (according to grown-up norms), I am convinced the things they like can grow into things they love.
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    Jun 24 2013: G'day Lizanne

    Allow children to be children & not something else that we as grown up's perceive, let them grow up in their own time to find their own perception & way, in this comes independence & self reliance any other way is making sure they are reliant & dependent for the rest of their lives. This is of course giving them free will instead of being locked into someone else's will.

    My step daughter studied music, double English & was in the process in getting a degree in teaching, she pulled the pin a few months before graduating because teaching wasn't for her. Most of the family were quite upset but I wasn't because this was one of her first major decisions she had made on her own, I supported her all the way.

    Give them support but never think or decide for them when plausible!!

    • Jun 26 2013: This is a great example, Mathew, of how I also think.
      At one point, we all choose to study - or not - based on what we want to achieve. But we are humans, and our minds have a tendency to change! Personally, I went to art school and studied print techniques, then I studied monumental design, then I studied fashion design. I quit early, then went on to be a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, an illustrator. Right now, I have been focusing on music. But I am still all these things. Just because I am concentrating on one passion, doesn't mean the others will 'go away'. We are a multitude of things, and one of our passions may lead us to another, perhaps hidden passion, if we embrace it!
      I applaud your step-daughter for giving it a go, and for deciding not to pursue teaching after all. We need to give things a shot, before we know if they're right for us, or not, don't we?

      I agree, total and unconditional support is key.
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    Jun 24 2013: Maybe instead of asking them what they wanna BE, ask them what they wanna DO.

    "What ya wanna DO?"

    I wanna climb mountains and swim and build robots and etc...

    Gives you a much better idea of their intrests and you can go from there to finding out jobs that match their interests.
    • Jun 24 2013: Ok, I really like this, Michael.
      This to me, is a great alternative. By simply changing one word, the question suddenly becomes more open and desirable to answer, doesn't it! Finding a career, or a vocation, or a purpose, or a livelihood, is all about finding out what it is you love doing, and has nothing to do with fitting into a mold or living up to anyone's expectations.
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    Jun 24 2013: I'm not sure if we should talk to kids in any other way then we do to adults...
    And asking anyone for a life goal is getting quite serious very fast, even when asking an adult (I still don't know).

    So I think you should talk to kids in the same ways as adults, only you have to presume that they don't know a lot of stuff that you'll have to teach them (unlike adults?).
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      Jun 24 2013: Agree Jimmy! Except I don't presume that they don't know a lot. Kids are very intuitive, smart, and teach us quite a bit when we listen.

      Kids come into this world open, honest, trusting, curious, joyful, eager to learn and unconditionally loving. Some kids, unfortunately, have challenging lives, which cause them to build emotional walls around themselves. Then, as adults sometimes try to connect again with those childlike qualities.

      I like to talk with kids in a way that encourages and supports the nurturing of the qualities they naturally have, and I can learn as well...win/win:>)
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        Jun 25 2013: I did not mean that they are dumb or anything Colleen, I simply meant that there are many terms (like global economy and socialism and such) that kids often don't know, it's something that usually comes with age. Therefore you would do right in presuming that there are some things that they are likely to not know of yet.

        And I fully agree with all the attributes you've assigned them.
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          Jun 25 2013: I got that Jimmy. I agree that there are some things they don't know yet, or don't understand. It seems that sometimes, people assume that little people need to be taught everything, and we forget that they have something to teach us as well:>)
    • Jun 24 2013: So, talk to kids like they're people.
      Yup, I'm all for that! ;)
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    Jun 24 2013: For the very young, it is simple enough not to ask anything of this kind. By the time kids are in middle school, asking what their interests are so far is a way of finding out about what excites them without conveying the idea that these interests are permanent or must be translated into a career path or life goal.

    I have never found it difficult to talk with kids!