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I think this might be the best episode of this podcast so far. I didn’t realize that until I listened to it this morning for the first time straight through. There are within it are so many insights and clues about being human, about learning and growing, and about why so many people are unhappy. And like all of Season 9, it’s all thanks to my three favorite creatures of all time, my kids.

Today they cover topics such as…
What it means to be an adult
Being free to try things and to make mistakes
Everyone wants to be trustworthy but mostly we can’t trust
The pitfall of “all or nothing” thinking
The value of role models
And what is it that people need in order to grow up to be happy, resourceful, and able to face the challenges of life?

Language alert – some of us couldn’t talk about this topic without liberal use of the F word. Consider yourself warned…. this is the real deal.

Whatever, whatever, Amen.


Mistakes Parents Make

Jonathan Kayla Nikiah Childs

1993 (no necks were broken in the taking of this picture)

Moving right along with all the bad subjects, today’s episode is about mistakes! Parents’ mistakes in particular, but really just the overall joy of being wrong and living in a horrifying world.

Have fun with it!


Amy Childs | Happiness Consultant

P42: Adventures and Opportunities for Unschooling Teens



My guest today is Blake Boles, director of Unschool Adventures and Zero-Tuition College, staff at Not Back to School Camp, author of College Without High School and working on the not-yet-published (you can help with this part!) book Better Than College.

I can tell you this: anyone interested in how small people can turn into happy productive large people, without going to school, will love hearing about what Blake is up to.  (I’m sayin’!)

And anyone who wants to help Blake with the things that he is up to can send a bit of money here – and guarantee an early copy of his new book to boot!

I have to ask: what’s not to love about any of this? That’s right, nothing.

Chris drove us all the way from Austin to Silver City. We like him.

And while we’re on the topic of generous, cheerful and adorable 20-something men, our musical treat of the day comes to us from Chris’s band – The World Is Not Flat.  Chris (and his friend Spencer) helped Nikiah and I cover about 1000 miles of our last adventure, and along the way made a hand-decorated cover for his new CD.  Ah, the joys of craigslist rideshare!

Again… what’s not to love?

Keep up the good work y’all.

P41: Owning up to Your Kids About Who You Are


On Kara Tennis’s website, part of her bio reads: “I also have four fascinating grown children who all trust me (thanks to years of humbling myself gallingly in order to learn from them and heal my patterns of unconscious parenting). ”

I can attest that all of this is true (that her four children are fascinating, that they trust her, and that Kara has had to humble herself gallingly in order for this to be the case).

There is hardly a parent I’ve ever known who wouldn’t be wise to learn from her example.  (I mean, if you want to learn from your kids and heal yourself, that is.  And I know all too well that many don’t.)

Thanks Kara, for being honest and real, as always.  And thanks Devon Sproule for sharing your music with us again, this time with the tune Healthy Parents, Happy Couple.

Among the most agonizing kinds of growth that I’ve had to do, in facing up to who I am and what’s inside of me, is in relation to my kids. There’s such a strong desire to do well by them, such a strong desire for them to love and respect me. But the deep, real, person-to-person kind of love and respect happened only from intense honesty, willingness to look over and over at my words and actions, and willingness to see myself through their eyes and their experience. Almost nothing in my life has been more humbling and difficult and slow and rewarding.
– Kara Tennis

P40: Why Do People Have Kids?


In the last of my four recorded conversations with Jonathan this week, today we made an attempt to examine the effects that parenting has had on my emotional growth.  We then stammered our way through topics like why people become parents, whether parenting is similar to or the opposite of being in a coma, and whether it possible to make the transition to independence gracefully.

We aren’t confident that we answered these questions with any success whatsoever.  But if you listen all the way to the end you’ll get to hear a really goofy song by Fred Van Vactor – a reward for your patience.

(Or, you can just skip to the end.)

Better luck next time,

P39: Passive Aggressive Parenting


So there’s this “funny sign” out there that says Teenagers- tired of being harassed by your stupid parents? Act now! Move out, get a job, pay your bills! While you still know everything!

And I really hate it.

So I called Kara up to rant about it, and (if you have the stomach for it) you can listen to bits of my tirade here.

But first you’ll hear a little bit about my own regrets, mistakes, grief and sorrow… so in case you didn’t know it already- it’s not like I think I’m so perfect or anything. ‘Cause I sure ain’t.

And then at the end Anders Hyatt reminds us to “be honest, if you can….”

Which seems like a really good place to start.


P38: Kara Helps Me Talk About My Year Off (and other things)


In what may be my last podcast for a while, we have not only the wonderful Kara Tennis joining me today but another special guest too – but you’ll have to listen (very carefully) if you want to hear anything she has to say.

After an important discussion about wrinkles, the conversation turned to more frivolous things like the one thing that all people can (and I wish they would, repeatedly) say to their parents: “It’s not my job to make you feel better.”

And other things.

And then I play a song by Tom Chapin that always, always, always makes me cry.


P37 Careening Toward the Cliff


Daniel is about to go off traveling again, and so am I – so it was a lucky thing that we found a time to record this final episode of Season Six – in spite of noisy NYC construction and a sketchy skype connection.

In today’s conversation Daniel talks about what motivates people to grow, the evolution of humanity, what parents can do when they see their mistakes, and why he might sound upset when he’s in a car careering toward a cliff.

Although Daniel and I don’t always see or articulate things in the same way, I am so grateful for the courageous work he has done and continues to do – not only for himself, but for the planet, for the world’s children and for the child inside each one of us.

I also want to take a moment to thank all of you who’ve listened to all 16 episodes of this Season Six.  I commend you for taking the time to hear, think, talk and breathe about so many painful and challenging ideas.  I’m pretty sure it hasn’t always been easy for any of us.

I don’t usually know what the point of this podcast is, but I sometimes have a bit of hope that it might somehow help the world come closer to being a safe, nurturing and supportive place in which human beings can thrive.  I don’t know how these things work, but I s’pose a girl can always dream.   Thanks for being a part of that journey.


P36 Parenting Intermission and “Should”


In this fourth and final intermission episode, I try to answer the seemingly simple question: “Amy, do you agree with Daniel – that unhealed people should not have kids – or not?”

Perhaps the most concise answer would be “I wouldn’t use the word ‘should’.”

Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with Daniel’s opinions or approach (or use of the words “should” and “shouldn’t”), I still feel that the heart of his message is very important and far too rare.

And I continue to be grateful for his perspective, passion and courage.

Plume Giant – a “retro folk trio with no frontman, just guitar, violin, viola, and three voices” gives us our musical treat today, which is lucky for us.


Parenting35: Alice Miller 'n' Stuff


This show marks the ¾ point in Season Six starring Daniel Mackler, and again it’s hard to summarize our conversation in 50 words or less.  Some hints include: spanking, hands-off forms of torture, freeing slaves and children, bad feelings, levels of consciousness, arithmetic, calculus, and growing past our teachers.

There was one thing that Daniel said today that I found not only humorous but also I think it’s a clue about the “gap” I’ve been exploring lately, and possibly a clue about many other things as well.  When I said to Daniel something like “Your website isn’t really addressed for parents,” he replied “Well it could be argued that my website isn’t really addressed for anyone…” to which I replied “lol” and also “oh!”

If you want to read Daniel’s critique of Alice Miller, just click on this friendly little link here and voila! (Ain’t that internet an amazement??)

So now it’s time for us to all be patient while Amy and Daniel figure out when they can find some time to skype and record the last four episodes of Season Six.

If you live in the northern hemisphere, I imagine you’ll be able to find some beautiful springy something or other to help you while the time away…. well, that’s what I’ll be doing anyway.