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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 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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