The mouths of babes

This week, a little girl named Tiana talked to her mother about relationships, self-control, and love. Her mother took a video of her daughter’s remarkable speech, and now millions of people around the world have watched it, too.

It’s a heartfelt plea, full of love and wisdom. To me, it shows that kids, even very young kids (Tiana is only six), are capable of understanding the world on complex levels and in unique ways.

Probably most people watching the video will chock up its brilliance to the notion that Tiana is some kind of precocious, unusually articulate genius. She’s obviously a beautiful, intelligent soul, but what if we listened to all kids as closely as we’re listening to her now?

Whether we’re teaching them something practical, telling them to clean up after dinner, explaining the birds and the bees, or imparting some other information or advice, we expect kids to listen to us and take us seriously.

The thing is, they do. They’re smart. From the time they’re born, they know adults are taking care of them, they know we have knowledge they want, they understand they can learn from us. As anyone who’s spent any time around kids knows, they are paying attention. Much of the time, we don’t return the favor. We’re too busy and preoccupied to listen to kids. We’re so busy trying to teach them that we ignore what they have to teach us. We think their ideas are too silly or immature to warrant serious consideration.

Tiana reminds us otherwise, that children can be profound and wise, sometimes even wiser than the adults around them. So, with a little help from Tiana, here’s my heartfelt plea for the day. Be steady, in the middle where your heart is, and listen.

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