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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 23 2013: As a teenager.. I can't help but to hate and love my parents at the same time; I have this confusing mixture of emotions towards my parents. Every single word they say sounds like a nitpick, but when I start to hate them, I feel very guilty... However, some of my friends don't even feel this sense of guilt and always say bad things about their parents. I think what filled the huge gap between me and my parents during my puberty was the fact that we often have conversations although I am busy going to academies racing towards high grades. When I come back from school, my mom always says, "Did you enjoy school today?" or "Did something particular happen?" These are just ordinary subjects any adults can come up with, and I think these were the keys that opened my mind towards them. In addition, my parents tell us (me and my sister) to always say "Hi!" and "See you later!" when coming back or going to some place. She considers it very important. Sorry for a long, fuzzy answer and my bad English skills;; So my answer is, share a conversation; every small bit WILL help them in every ways.
    • W T 100+

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      Jul 23 2013: Hong-Min, it is so nice to hear from a young person in this conversation.
      How interesting to read about your feelings for your parents......yes, I remember how I felt like that sometimes, when I was a teenager too.

      What I find of value in your comment, is that your parents encourage communication.
      How wonderful of them.
      I cannot think of anyone better to have as friends, than one's own parents.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

      And, your English is just wonderful!!!!

      I am Mary. Nice to talk to you.
    • Jul 23 2013: Hong-Min, to me, this answer is possibly the most important of all!
      Thank you for sharing this personal story, and how important even the smallest form of communication is when building strong and lasting relationships between adults and kids! I love the idea of simply saying "Hi" and "see you later". I do the same thing. To me, this is not only communication, it's respect.
      The questions your Mom asked you were super, in my opinion. Open-ended, no pressure, you could give any answer you felt like and it would be ok. Keeping the lines open and accessible are important, especially as kids get older. If there's one thing kids can't stand, it's nosey parents, right??

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