Continuing my research into the world of children…

Bettie B. Youngs, author of How To Develop Self-Esteem In Your Child, talks with a lot of kids and she’s collected their responses to the question, “What do you want from your parents?” Hint: they don’t say more toys or more TV time. Here’s what they do say:

  • I want my parents to think I’m somebody special.
  • I want my parents to be warm and friendly to me, just as they are to those who phone or come to the front door.
  • I want my parents to be more concerned about me.
  • I want my parents to know the “me that nobody knows”.
  • I want to be able to talk to my parents about what’s important to me (and have those views be valued).
  • I want to be part of a happy family.
  • I want my parents to “lighten up”.
  • I want my parents to learn more about my feelings and emotions.

Look, I know it’s not easy being a parent. In fact, I wish I’d read this list when my kids were young—so I won’t say much about this. I’ll just mention two things that strike me:

  • The first “books about life” that kids read are the lives of their parents (and other close adults). They need us—our presence, our personal interest, our example—more than we think they do.

In the 2020 Olympics, swimmer Kate Ledecky came in a disappointing 5th in the 200 meter freestyle—a match she was expected to win. She went into a funk, but recovered a couple of days later to win gold in the 1500 meter race. When she was asked how she did it, she said, “I went to my happy place. I thought of my grandparents.”

  • When we wonder how to make our lives count, how to make the world a better place…a good place to start is with the children we know.

As John Updike said: “If men do not keep on speaking terms with children, they cease to be men, and become merely machines for eating and for earning money.”