Kids Get Their Parents — Famous and Otherwise — to Open Up in New Huffington Series Talk to Me
Arianna Huffington and her daughter Christina in conversation.
Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post
Just in time for Father’s Day on Sunday, The Huffington Post is sharing a short video from Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz and his son, Jordan. The video is part of the site’s “Talk to Me” series in which children interview their parents in intimate, casual settings on a wide range of issues.
Other Seattle-area luminaries to participate in the project include Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who was interviewed by her oldest daughter, Jenn.
Seattle’s Child this week had the opportunity to ask Arianna Huffington about the Talk to Me series, for which her daughter, Christina, is the creator and executive producer. The project launched in April and includes conversations between influential parents and their kids — Oprah, Barbara Bush, Michael Bloomberg, and Lionel Richie are among the interviewees — as well as videos submitted by families from around the country.
Here are her thoughts on this unique opportunity for kids and parents to connect and share their thoughts and observations, and tips for families who would like to engage in this sort of conversation.
Seattle’s Child: Some interviews for the series focus on the spiritual side of the person being interviewed, others on formative experiences that shaped their careers. What is it that is unique about a child interviewing their parent that you hoped would reveal something new and meaningful?
Arianna Huffington: There’s something incredibly moving just seeing parents and children together on screen, talking about what matters most to them. So often, when the kids are grown both parents and children are so caught up in the day-to-day details of our lives that it can be difficult to make the time to sit down, stop all the noise of the outside world for a while, and really talk. So it’s our hope that by providing a structure, and creating a community of other parents and children from around the world, we can make the experience more accessible.
Social media and digital devices can allow people to disconnect from each other. What are your thoughts about a promoting a project that facilitates such intimate conversations?
As a mother, I love all the opportunities I have to connect with my daughters — calling, texting, FaceTime, all the platforms at our disposal. But there’s just nothing as simple and authentic as sitting down with someone you love, face to face, and talking about what’s on your mind.
Can you recall a particularly surprising or revealing insight that came from one of these interviews?
We so often hear about tension and negativity between generations — millennials being denigrated, baby boomers being blamed, etc. But what you see over and over again in these videos is an authentic connection between generations that’s so inspiring and so much more convincing than the conventional narrative.
Is there a parent-child combo that you’re particularly hopeful to include in the series?
We’ve had so many great parent-child combos. And I’m so excited about seeing hundreds of people from around the world take the initiative to interview their parents and join the conversation.
As a media professional, do you have advice for kids who would like to engage their parents in this sort of conversation — how do you initiate it, how do you tease out meaningful answers?
Yes, make the first move. I promise, your parents will be delighted and flattered because all this time they thought you weren’t interested! Of course, the essence of Talk To Me is that you know better than anyone the questions that will yield the most thoughtful, or funny, or honest answers. But here are a few questions to get you started:
-Tell me something you’ve never told me.
-What is your biggest regret?
-What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were my age?
-What was the happiest time of your life?
-If you could offer just one piece of wisdom (or advice) to your future great-grandchildren, what would it be?
-What is your dream for me?
What do you hope participants and viewers will gain from this project?
As Christina wrote when we launched Talk To Me, it’s often said that as a society we no longer place the same value we once did on the wisdom of our elders, but these videos show that there’s actually a tremendous and widespread desire among children to learn from the mistakes and experiences of their parents.
I’d add that, in video after video, you see the same desire on the part of parents — to learn from their own children. So I hope participants and viewers alike will be inspired to start these conversations and keep them going. When we’re willing to offer up pieces of ourselves — especially our hopes, our flaws, our vulnerabilities, the things that make us who we really are — others are much more likely to share the same with us. And that’s the kind of connection I think we all hunger for.