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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What is Your Child's Spark? A TEDxTC Talk by Minnesota Dr. Peter Benson | Maris Ehlers Photography

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."  Plutarch

I think most of us have established by now that being a parent is one of the hardest “jobs” a person can ever have.  Some people seem to fall into it with more grace and ability than others, and some make it all look so effortless. Admittedly, I have times where I neither feel graceful nor able, but time waits for no man (or parent, for that matter), and so it goes.
I have dreams for my children.  Some days, those dreams are bigger and brighter than a cloudless Minnesota summer sky.  On those days I dream that they will fully realize their potential, that they won’t encounter much tragedy or trauma, that they will be able to overcome all obstacles and live the brilliant lives I believe are within reach for them.
On other days, I borrow trouble and my dreams for them are dominated by fear and worry.  I don’t dare dream of lives of fulfillment and joy in these moments. Instead, I pray that we all survive their teenage years without someone joining the circus or experimenting with THE wrong drug. I also hope for no bad boyfriends, a completed education, and a world without terroristic threats or war.  In other words, I choose safety over satisfaction.  In today’s world, what mother wouldn’t be tempted? 
The problem in focusing on dreams for my children revolving around safety over satisfaction is I am filling them with expectations, rules and obligations from the outside, instead of naming and nurturing that which is in their hearts.  I’ve seen the discrepancy, I’ve known that sometimes I’m focusing on the “safe” things, but haven’t necessarily known what to do about it.  
Late last night, as is often the case, I was searching for something online and came across a Minnesota blog called Choosing Beauty.  Of course I can't even remember what I was looking for specifically, but I landed on her recent blog post about her father, Dr. Peter Benson, and his recent speech at TEDxTC.  Some of you may remember a post of mine featuring a TEDx video / speech by Dr. Brene Brown on VULNERABILITY.  If you do, you know I completely believe in the mission of TED, which is "ideas worth sharing".  
I watched Dr. Benson's talk.  Three times, in fact.  And was incredibly moved.  He not only gave voice to the worries and burdens I carry about my children, but had brilliant ideas and solutions for the children of today.  
Are we filling the vessels instead of lighting a fire?  
If you are a parent, or an adult who has an important relationship with a child (niece, nephew, friend, student, whatever the case may be), I implore you to find a few minutes of quiet and watch this video.  Think about it. Think about what your own spark is, and think about what this child’s spark might be.  Ask yourself if you are helping him or her discover, name and nurture their spark.  Are you providing them with opportunities to grow their spark into a fire inside? 

From the Search-Institute Website: 
 What is a Spark? A spark is something that gives your life meaning and purpose. It's an interest, a passion, or a gift.

the hidden flames in kids that excite them and tap into their true passions.

SPARKS come from…
the gut. They motivate and inspire. They’re authentic passions, talents, assets, skills, and dreams.

be musical, athletic, intellectual, academic, relational—from playing the violin to enjoying working with kids or senior citizens.

ignite a lifelong vocation or career, or balance other activities to create an emotionally satisfying, enriched life.

kids going on a positive path, away from the conflicts and negative issues—violence, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol—that give teens a bad name and attract so much negative energy.

  1. Creative Arts
  2. Athletics
  3. Learning (e.g., languages, science, history)
  4. Reading
  5. Helping, serving
  6. Spirituality, religion
  7. Nature, ecology, environment
  8. Living a quality life (e.g., joy, tolerance, caring)
  9. Animal welfare
  10. Leading

    What is your child’s spark?  We're dying to know.  

    Maris is a mom of a 7 year old empathy-filled, curious explorer and a 6 year old observant, music-loving leader. :) 


    Anonymous said...

    Thank you for sharing his video and thoughts. I'm sitting at my desk bawlin' like a baby. I THINK I know what my child's spark is, but to be honest I'm not sure if it's what I think it is or what HE believes it is. I'm gonna find out!

    Anonymous said...

    WOW. WOW. WOW. If only every parent and teacher could see this.

    My child's spark is performance arts. She lives for the stage and so we did really try to create those opportunities for her when she was younger. She demanded it! Now that she's older she seeks them out constantly. Not surprisingly, we're her biggest fans.