Last morning at TEDActive

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“Parent as a verb only entered common use in 1970.”

- author Jennifer Senior, talking about the relationship between middle-class parents and their children.

I was five in 1970, so I guess I was on the front line of that one.

There are plenty of nuggets like this on the last morning of the gigantic brain trust that is TEDActive 2014 in Whistler.

Senior is discussing the fears of parents who are trying to teach and over teach their children in order to prepare them for an uncertain future – eco-friendly, gluten free and learning Mandarin.

The new rules as mothers and fathers, husbands and wives are written on new scripts that people contend with. Women still do twice as much work as their husbands as parents, but fathers report the greatest work-life conflict.

“All I want is for my children to be happy.” Senior says it is a wonderful goal but elusive and cannot be goals unto themselves, an unfair burden on parents.

She says that in our quest to create happy kids we should be instead trying to create productive kids and moral kids. Decency, a work ethic, love – and happiness and self-esteem will take care of themselves.

Sounds like a good plan.

And that’s a good way to think of TED, it is a series of “good plans” brought by a variety of people who share the best experiences and most positive hopes of their lives. That doesn’t mean they gloss over the problems, they share the very human ingenuity they are trying to apply in order to work these problems out.

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