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Every child needs to believe that she is liked for herself, just the way she is, and that she is liked all the time, not just when she is acting according to others’ ideas of the way a child should act. Every child needs to believe that she will be able to grow and develop in her own way.

Speaking of acceptance, my friend just told me her teenage son has a sincere fascination with weapons! This might be enough to stop lots of people from accepting this boy and his ways, but it is who he is and it is good. The world is full of weapons and people who use them, so having individuals who prize their knowledge of them and feel passionate about weapons can serve us all well. I don’t think the world today can operate without good guys who are ballistics specialists, or members of the armed forces, or detectives, or spies, or any of a myriad of jobs and roles that require folks who understand and care about weapons. It sounds difficult in a teenager because we associate weapons and teens with bad events, but reasonable, rational adults who specialize in weaponry have to come out of somewhere, so starting as a teen fascinated by weapons is probably the perfect credential.

Accepting kids for who they are is not always easy if their interests are different than ours, but letting kids be who they are, and celebrating that and letting them develop their interests with our guidance, I believe produces the most passionate, alive, creative, lovable people on earth.