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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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    Jun 24 2013: There is no harm in asking a kid what his/her dreams are - what he/she wants to become. If that kid happens to be your child, and is still not a teenager, the problem arises when you start seriously believing in what your kid says. You become more focused than your kid, and on the other hand your kid as he grows up, changes his mind from time to time, whereas you become frustrated.

    As parents of kids we have to just monitor and encourage, and when the time comes to take a decision, to guide or seek some professional advice.
    • Jun 24 2013: Asgar, I agree, open communication is great and positive and essential!
      You say, "the problem arises when you start seriously believing in what your kid says". Do you mean, if your child says he/she wants to be something you might not expect, or desire for them? I changed my mind so many times in college... in retrospect, I know my parents must have been concerned, but they knew I would find my way. They gave me the tools to do so, like you say, through a certain amount of monitoring and a lot of encouragement!

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