Parenting can be a lonely, bumpy road. It’s a struggle to feel like you’re doing a good job, even when you’re probably doing a very good job. These TED Talks for parents will (a) help you out if you feel a bit stuck and (b) remind you that it’s not just the kids who need to do the growing.
I’m a bit of a TED Talks addict (and also, the podcasts TED Radio Hour and TED Interview). It was actually really hard to stop picking TED Talks for parents, because they’re all about raising kids one way or another. Parenting is life, people, life is parenting.
What I love about all of these talks is they remind us that we’re okay. We might need a tweak here and a oil-change there, but basically we are doing alright. The thing is, if you weren’t a great parent, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now. Fact!
See how you go, and let me know in the comments if you also have a suggestion to add to our TED Talks for parents list.
21 TED Talks for parents
If you need reminding that you’re doing it right…
“And so we’ve done something here that is heretical. We have charted our love for our child over time. (Laughter) This, as you know, is an act of heresy. You’re not allowed to chart love. The reason you’re not allowed to chart love is because we think of love as a binary thing. You’re either in love, or you’re not in love. You love, or you don’t love. And I think the reality is that love is a process…” – Rufus Griscom and Alisa Vokman.
“When it came to having kids, I thought that good was some version of a superbaby, some ultrahealthy human who possessed not a single flaw and would practically wear a cape flying into her superhero future.” – Heather Lanier
“Parent, as a verb, only entered common usage in 1970. Our roles as mothers and fathers have changed. The roles of our children have changed. We are all now furiously improvising our way through a situation for which there is no script, and if you’re an amazing jazz musician, then improv is great, but for the rest of us, it can kind of feel like a crisis.” – Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood
“Bravery is learned, and like anything learned, it just needs to be practised. So first, we have to take a deep breath and encourage our girls to skateboard, climb trees and clamber around on that playground fire pole.” – Caroline Paul, author of The Gutsy Girl.
If you know you need some work yourself…
“Tomorrow morning, set your alarm for thirty minutes earlier. And then when it goes off, take those sheets, throw them off, and stand up and start your day. No snooze, no delay, no, “I’ll just wait here for five seconds because Mel’s not standing here” – Do it. And the reason why I want you to do it is because you will come face to face with the physical, and I mean physical force that’s required to change your behavior.” – Mel Robbins, author of the The 5-Second Rule
What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough,” — which, we all know that feeling: “I’m not blank enough. I’m not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, promoted enough.” The thing that underpinned this was excruciating vulnerability.” – Brené Browne, author of Daring Greatly.
“We see once again that the harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage. And when you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience.” – Kelly McGonigal, author of The Upside of Stress.
If you struggle to balance the load…
“In the workplace, real equality means valuing family just as much as work, and understanding that the two reinforce each other. As a leader and as a manager, I have always acted on the mantra, if family comes first, work does not come second — life comes together.” – Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business.
“When I’ve asked the question around the world when people feel comfortable speaking up, the number one answer is: “When I have social support in my audience; when I have allies.” So we want to get allies on our side. How do we do that? Well, one of the ways is be a mama bear.” – Adam Galinsky, author of Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both.
“It’s up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives that we want to lead. If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you, and you may just not like their idea of balance.” – Nigel Marsh, author of Fat, Forty and Fired.
If you need a completely new approach…
“A crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It’s amazing, the power of one word. “Yes” changed my life. “Yes” changed me. But there was one particular yes that affected my life in the most profound way, in a way I never imagined, and it started with a question from my toddler…” – Shonda Rhimes, author of Year of Yes.
“Nearly everyone is completely overwhelmed by the chaos of family life. Every parent I know, myself included, feels like we’re constantly playing defense. Just when our kids stop teething, they start having tantrums. Just when they stop needing our help taking a bath, they need our help dealing with cyberstalking or bullying. And here’s the worst news of all. Our children sense we’re out of control.” – Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families.
“We expect our kids to perform at a level of perfection we were never asked to perform at ourselves, and so because so much is required, we think, well then, of course we parents have to argue with every teacher and principal and coach and referee and act like our kid’s concierge and personal handler and secretary.” – Julie Lythcot-Haims, author of How to Raise An Adult.
“There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow.
If you’re figuring out your core values…
“We use this word “happy,” and it’s this very large umbrella of a term. And then three emotions for which there are no English words: fiero, which is the pride in accomplishment of a challenge; schadenfreude, which is happiness in another’s misfortune, a malicious pleasure; and naches, which is a pride and joy in one’s children. Absent from this list, and absent from any discussions of happiness, are happiness in another’s happiness.” – Nancy Etcoff, author of Survival of the Prettiest.
“The reality is, in Western countries, quite often we do focus on the pursuit of happiness as if happiness is something that we have to go out — an object that we’re supposed to get, or maybe many objects. Actually, in fact, if you look in the dictionary, many dictionaries define pursuit as to “chase with hostility.” Do we pursue happiness with hostility? Good question.” – Chip Conley, author of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow.
“I think the best definition, according to the Buddhist view, is that well-being is not just a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment. A state that actually pervades and underlies all emotional states, and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way. For you, that might be surprising. Can we have this kind of well-being while being sad? In a way, why not?” – Matthieu Ricard, author of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Greatest Skill
If it’s all going by way too fast…
“Letter-writing will never again need to flip back her hair and talk about efficiency, because she is an art form now, all the parts of her, the signing, the scripting, the mailing, the doodles in the margins. The mere fact that somebody would even just sit down, pull out a piece of paper and think about someone the whole way through…” – Hannah Brencher, author of Come Matter Here: Your Invitation to Be Here in a Getting There World.
“In the headlong dash of daily life, we often lose sight of the damage that this roadrunner form of living does to us. We’re so marinated in the culture of speed that we almost fail to notice the toll it takes on every aspect of our lives — on our health, our diet, our work, our relationships, the environment and our community.” – Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slow.
“I’m giving you critical data about me. I’m telling you where I’m insecure. I’m telling you where I need your help. And I’m treating you, my inner circle, like you’re the enemy. Because what can you do with that data? You could neglect me. You could abuse it. Or you could actually meet my need.” – Laura Trice.
“And I said to her, “What do you think you did that helped him to emerge as this charming, accomplished, wonderful person?” And she said, “What did I do? I loved him, that’s all. Clinton just always had that light in him. And his father and I were lucky enough to be the first to see it there.”” – Andrew Solomo, author of Far From The Tree.
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Do you have a Ted Talks for parents recommendation to add?
Feature image by Diego PH; all other images created from TED videos.