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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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    Jul 8 2013: I only have a daughter, of whom I’m very proud. When she was growing up I waited for her to ask the questions and always tried to stick to reality for answers. At five she asked about Santa Claus, I explained that it was her mother and myself that supplied the Christmas gifts, but that Santa was based on a true the story of a Bishop from Turkey that gave gifts from house to house around the Christmas holidays. At eleven when she asked about the facts of life, I kept right to Gray’s Anatomy for the answers but also explained that any children that came out of such an encounters, would be her responsibility to feed, cloth and shelter for the next eighteen years. Then, with the help of my daughter, we played a game on my wife. I knew she was squeamish about explaining sex to her pre-teen daughter, so, every day for a month my daughter would ask her mother about the facts of life and every day my wife would come to me asking advise. It was a good father /daughter bonding experience.

    Also, when she was very young, I tried my best to keep control of the TV channels that she watched. I would never let her see how the channel was changed. She only watched educational TV. When she wanted to know what TV shows were next up; I would hand her the TV Guide and explain how to decipher the text. Of course, she couldn’t read the Guide. I gave her all the help she needed and by the time, she entered kindergarten, she was reading the TV Guide.

    Today, she has earned her Masters degree in Science and teaches high school Science.

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