TED Conversations

Lizanne Hennessey

Singer Songwriter & Vocal Coach, Lizanne Hennessey - Voice Coach

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed.

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":
http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jennifer-fulwiler/lets-stop-asking-children-what-they-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up

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?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jun 28 2013: I wanted to give one more comment from my husband's point of view. He just called me from work and we chatted for a moment and I asked him "What do you think the most important impact was that you had on Matt? He's not much of a big talker, but he had a good answer... he said "I got my ass out of bed and went to work every day". He said "I knew that no matter what Matt chose to do, so long as he had a good work ethic, he would be ok." Simple but clear. That old cheesy saying "children learn what they live" is so true. If they see dad drink till 2 am and then call out sick, they will learn that behavior and will never have respect for themselves no matter what they chose to do for a living. He also sat in the stands right next to me during all of the hockey games. GO MATT!!!!
    • W T 100+

      • +1
      Jun 28 2013: Amy, thank you for this.

      Last week we had to drive my husband to work at 5:30 in the morning because one of ours cars was being serviced. The kids got to see firsthand the sacrifice their dad makes on a daily basis for them.
      After we dropped dad off, the kids went back to sleep.

      At 11:00 am my son looks at the clock and exclaims "hey, dad's been working for six hours already!!"
      He had just finished eating his breakfast, and realized how easy he has it as a kid.

      Our appreciation the family head increased 10-fold that morning.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.