Episode 66: Raising Children—Responsibility (Part 1)

Episode 66: Raising Children—Responsibility (Part 1)

Hosted by Jodi Hildebrandt

We are back on the air!  To start things off, Jodi explains what she’s been doing since her last podcast:
Teaching at the ConneXions Academy—a new way to learn and practice principles of connection.  Low-cost, highly-interactive classes are available in-person and online.  Click the link to check it out.

This episode is about parenting.  We’ve received many requests to talk on this subject.  In this episode, Jodi explains what children need physically and emotionally, and then zeroes in on one need that, if met, will enable a child (or any person) to have all their other needs met.  That need is RESPONSIBILITY.  When a child is taught to be responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, and choices, they learn to live life empowered, to meet their own needs, and to ask for help when they need it.  Teaching a child to engage in personal responsibility is a large task, and in this podcast, Jodi lays the groundwork for how to do it.

Jodi explains 4 tenets of teaching children to be personally responsible:

  1. Teach children that they have the ability to choose—and they are ALWAYS choosing (even when they don’t want to).
  2. Teach children boundaries
  3. Teach children vulnerability
  4. Teach children how to think rationally and choose their responses to their emotions.


Full Transcript

PDF Version: Episode 66: Raising Children—Responsibility (Part 1)

Episode 66: Raising Children—Responsibility (Part 1)

Welcome to ConneXions Classroom Podcast. We are so excited to introduce to you the opportunity for you to join us in a classroom setting where you will be taught the principles of connection. For those of you who have already joined us on the podcasts, and for those for you who have not, you are now ready to step into an extensive, hands-on, all-star classroom experience to better understand why you are experiencing and interpreting life the way that you do.

You will be introduced to the foundational principles of personal integrity, which are: how to live impeccable honesty, rigorous personal responsibility, humility, vulnerability, openness, willingness, transparency, and boundaries.

This is a 12-week intensive course that consists of meeting one time a week for two hours. You will be given six workbooks. In each workbook, instruction will be given to you on core concepts of how to live your life from a position of emotional honesty, Reality, Truth, boundaries, validation, being able to recognize your distortions, and how choice plays a central role in all of your experiences and emotional outcomes.

Some of the concepts covered inside of the classroom include: what validation and vulnerability are and how to animate those principles your life; how to live in Truth rather than distortion; how to recognize your distraction and your controlling behavior in your relationships; and how to live a life of peace rather than pain. Powerful concepts that change lives, beginning with yours.

Hundreds of people have participated already, and have drastically transformed their lives by living and being in Truthful, emotionally honest relationships. They report experiences of personal empowerment and emotional and mental sophistication being introduced into their relationships.

So, now it’s your turn to come and participate. This classroom experience will change the way you interact with yourself and others in powerful ways, giving you the tools and emotional sophistication to connect deeply inside yourself and invite other in your life to do the same.

Come and experience connection. Go to www.connexionsclassroom.com, and hit the “Go to Academy” button and sign up. I look forward to meeting you and connecting.

[00:02:48] Episode 66

Welcome to ConneXions Classroom Podcast. I am Jodi Hildebrandt. I am excited to be returning to once again do weekly podcasts with you on Saturday mornings.

This is podcast number 66. We are in the month of April, 2016. This morning, I’m going to talk about responsibility and children.

I have had many, many, many requests for me to write books and do podcasts referring to how to raise children in a healthy way. Many, many people are responsible for children, whether they’re their own children or they’re in a school setting, and as they’re learning how to live a life free of shame, as they’re learning how to live a life where they are being responsible for themselves, their emotions, and they’re learning how to be emotionally honest, they’re running into some areas where they’re getting confused about how do I teach a child this information? Because with a child, they don’t have the same kind of power that adults do.

However, it is much the same for children as it is for adults as far as the need for personal responsibility and the ability to learn how to be emotionally honest.

So, let’s jump write in and start talking about responsibility and children—how to raise a child to be a responsible, connected being inside of a family unit, inside of a marital unit, inside this society.

[00:04:41] Children and Responsibility

What do children need? What are the components, the characteristics that the child would need in order to grow up and be healthy? Well, there are quite a few different elements or characteristics that a child needs. A child needs safety—emotional and physical safety. They need validation. And validation is the ability for another person (or even the child learning how to validate themselves) but the act of validation is to be able to have the person—which is the child—know that they are seen, they are understood, they are heard, they are being witnessed. That someone cares about them, that someone is concerned about their wellbeing and notices what’s going on in their life and can validate their emotions and their experience.

Children need protection. Children need guidance. They need boundaries. They need discipline. Children need to learn how to be emotionally honest, and so they need that model for them—appropriate modeling of how to be honest.

Children need to learn how to be vulnerable. They need physical things, they need touch, they need to be comforted, they need to have their physical needs met: food, shelter, clothing, school supplies, those kinds of things. They have many physical needs, doctors appointments. There’s a lot that goes into raising a healthy child, and for a lot of us, many of those emotional needs that I was talking about at the very beginning—the validation, and the guidance or the emotionally honesty—many people as children didn’t get very much of that if any of that, and so what they thought they needed was just physical needs met. Most people are getting their physical needs met; not all, but many people around the globe are having those needs met, but lacking on the emotional needs.

And so, the one characteristic that I want to hone on is responsibility is a need of a child. Children need to learn how to be responsible for themselves. It is just as important as being validated, it’s as important as being nurtured, as being protected, as being guided. Those are all incredibly important components to raising a healthy child—and responsibility, I would say, is right up there at the top. It’s not the silver bullet, it’s not they only need to learn how to be responsible but it is a component that is just as important as learning to be honest and receiving validation.

Children need the same things, ironically, that adults need. All those things I just mentioned are the same things that adults need all throughout their life.

To teach a child that they are responsible for themselves is the parent’s or the care provider, or whoever is in charge of that youngster, it is your responsibility to teach them that they are responsibility for their thoughts, for their feelings, and for their behaviors.

Now, when you teach them those three things, it sounds really easy, like wow, that’s a cinch. Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, that’s not very much. And if you will think about that for a moment. Every time a child has an experience—and they’re having experiences 24/7—they are responsible for their interpretation of that because that is how they perceive. They are responsible for how they feel about those experiences, and then they are also responsible for what they choose to do with those thoughts and feelings.

And so, if you look at it realistically, teaching them about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is a full-time job. It is a constant act of teaching them to be responsible for themselves. There’s never a moment when they are not responsible for themselves because they’re experiencing things every waking hour and also in their sleep, they’re having experiences, dreams and things like that.

Again, just as adults are responsible for those three things—thoughts, feelings, and behaviors—so are children.

Children are beings that will mature. At least physically, they’ll mature into adults. However, many adults, because they didn’t or don’t receive the nutrients—the emotional nutrients—to mature into a fully emotionally mature and responsible adult, are physically mature but emotionally still very, very immature, very young. This immaturity means that they are very wounded, they’re hurt, and they’re starving for validation, and recognition, or attention.

Maybe you who is listening to this podcast, maybe you feel like there’s parts in your life where you haven’t really grown into adulthood yet, where you’re lacking some emotional nutrients, like maybe you’re needing some empathy around being the youngest child in a family of 13, where by the time you came along, your parents were kind of pooped and you didn’t get a lot of attention.

So, there might be avenues or components in your life where you feel like you are in need of some emotional maturity, and I would encourage you to look at your life and see where those avenues are, because you can have those areas in your life healed if you’ll acknowledge where they are. And sometimes, you can help them heal just by raising your children in a healthy manner, so as you help your children learn to mature, you might also just kind of hitch a ride on that train and heal yourself as well.

So, there is only one thing, one characteristic that children need and this podcast is what we’re going to focus on. The ability to be responsible. Responsibility, if a child will learn how to be responsible for themselves—those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors—it will cover all the other things that a child growing into an adult will need for adulthood.

So, for example, if I’m being responsible for my own thoughts and feelings, then when I am needing some validation, I will know how to ask for that. So, really, the ability to be responsible for one’s self, if a child is taught how to do that in this particular manner where they’re taught about their feelings, their feelings matter, their feelings are important, they are responsible for what they feel, they’re responsible and understand what they feel. If you will teach your children that their feelings are incredibly important, that they’re giving them information about them; and the way that they perceive their environment, the way they perceive their world is also information for them, and teach them how to be accountable for that, they will grow into very functional, healthy adults that will know how to ask for what it is that they need.

So, responsibility is a crucial and critical part of raising a healthy child into a healthy adult. Responsibility teaches them how to empower themselves—feeling like I can, feeling like this is possible, like I’m capable.

Responsibility teaches them that they can protect themselves. Responsibility teaches that they need to work, they need to provide for themselves. It teaches them that they can understand and set their own boundaries, their own limits. It teaches them that empathy and compassion for self and others, empathy which is validation and learning how to be vulnerable.

Responsibility teaches them to understand that they are part of a bigger whole, like they are part of a society, they’re a part of a family. They affect other people and as they learn that they affect other people, they learn how to be empathic.

Responsibility reminds them that they must be honest in order to connect and bond with others. And also, in order to be bonded to themselves. That as they’re responsible, they learn that they are culpable, they are 50 percent at a minimum culpable for the relationship being connected with another person.

So, as you teach them that as a child, they grow into adults learning that they are responsible for their part of the desire to connect and bond with another.

Responsibility teaches them that they can relax and they can be centered within themselves. It reminds them about the power of choice and how they can use it in many different ways, and helps them choose. It also teaches them that when they choose, there are outcomes for their choices and those outcomes teach them about the beauty of being responsible, so it’s like I’m responsible, I make a choice, the choice has an outcome, and then the outcome teaches me to be responsible. It’s this beautiful cycle.

Responsibility reminds them that they can repent, they can clean things up, that if they choose a particular choice and it has an outcome that creates some kind of harm or unpleasant emotions for themselves or another person, they can be responsible and clean that up. They’re not trapped in that; they can move forward.

Responsibility is what continues to remind us that we are vulnerable, that we are human, and we are susceptible to experience all emotions, the unpleasant and the pleasant ones. And that emotions are connected to our experiences. And that we have responsibility to choose our pathway; things don’t just happen to us. And so, being willing to recognize that I’m responsible reminds me that I am a human being experiencing life, and that there’s choice involved and when I choose—which I choose all the time—there are outcomes/consequences that present themselves that I then can learn from and learn more responsibility. It’s a wonderful, cyclical pattern of being responsible.

Personal responsibility is what energizes your soul to stay connected to yourself, God, and others.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I just love personal responsibility—being able to keep my own power, knowing that life can show up in all sorts of ways with me, and I always have an opportunity to choose how I’m going to perceive, how I’m going to react or respond to that experience, because it’s all within my ability to choose. Responsibility activates choice.

So, just as children are responsible, we as adults are responsible for similar behaviors. So, because a child doesn’t have the same kind of power as an adult, they need the adults around them to be clear, and direct, and educational, teach them about boundaries, validation, how to be vulnerable.

So, I’m going to go over each one of those. Adults, as you are raising children, and again whether you are a parent of a child or children, or whether you have charge over a child or children as a job, or maybe you’re in a church group, all of us are interacting with kids at some point in our lifetime. And so, being able to teach children means that you help them understand that they have the ability to choose, that even if they don’t want to choose, they still are choosing. And because they have this gift of choice, they must learn how to use it correctly, they must learn how to be responsible for it.

So, we as the adults, because we have the power or more power than a child, and what I mean by that is that the more responsibility a person has, so the older you become, you typically are being given more responsibility. And so, as you become more responsible, you have more power.

So, it’s our responsibility to be clear and direct, so what does that mean—clear and direct? Clear and direct means that you use examples, you use language that is not confusing, that is honest. That you use the language that is correct language as far as using very simplistic terms to explain what’s going on, and why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why it’s important for them to understand their part in whatever it is that’s happening.

And then, you ask them, “Do you have any questions? Does that make sense to you? Is there anything that I’ve said that’s confusing? Would you like me to give you another example?” Until the child says, “No, I get it.”

And then, you’re going to say to to the child, “So, what did you hear me say?” That is an invitation to have them repeat back what they heard.

Now, a lot of times, people will say, “Yeah, I got it.” And when you ask them to repeat back, they don’t got it. And so, it’s really important that you understand what the child heard. You might think that you’re being really clear and direct, and you may not be as clear and direct as that particular person needs you to be, depending on their experiences growing up. They might have had a lot of trauma, they might be just distracted when you’re talking to them, so always ask them, “What did you hear me say?” And be clear and direct with your feedback to them.

You need to be educational with a child, you need to explain to them what’s happening. So, if I’m pumping gas and my child looks out the car window and says, “Hey, mom, what are you doing?” Then you say, “I’m putting gas in the car.” And you might want to take two or three minutes and explain as you’re sitting there waiting for the gas to pump into your car, what putting gas in the car means and why cars need gas.

You need to remember that a child is a blank slate. They don’t know anything, and so you get to teach them exactly what it is that you want them to learn. And the more clear and direct, and educational you are with your child, the more they’re going to ask questions like, “Why is this and why is that? Help me understand this. So-and-so acted really aggressively to me today and I didn’t understand it, I was just asking a question and they got angry at me.”

So, they’re very curious about the world and their environment, and their social experiences, and they’re curious about their bodies and other people’s bodies, and work, and time spent in relationships. Anything that goes on in the world, a child’s going to ask about it because they are learning. They’re like a little sponge and they want to understand what’s going on around them, and you have this beautiful privilege of projecting onto them principles of Truth to help them mature into a healthy, connected human being.

You are responsible to teach them boundaries. Boundaries are about teaching them about who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, what they believe in, what they don’t believe in, what they want, what they don’t want, and then you help them language those characteristics of who they are to another person.

So, boundaries are a way to teach another person about you. So you model for them what boundaries are. So, you say, “It’s past 8:30, it’s time to go to bed. I have to get up and go to work tomorrow at 5 in the morning and so I have to be in bed by 8:30.” That is teaching a child about a boundary. That’s modeling a boundary for them. It’s telling them that you need eight plus hours of sleep, so that you can be functional in the morning for your work experience. They may not understand that because they don’t have to get up that early, but you’re at least teaching them that there are consequences for the human body if you don’t get enough rest.

So, you teach them about your boundaries and then you help them set their own boundaries.

You want to teach them about validation and vulnerability. Vulnerability and validation are two very, very important characteristics that children need to understand. Children are vulnerable. I mean, adults are vulnerable too, but we kind of see children as vulnerable because they’re small, they can’t hold a job, they really can’t take care of themselves, so they’re the weakest among us, children are. They’re vulnerable, so it’s really easy to see a child as being vulnerable, whereas it’s more threatening to think that an adult is vulnerable. And so, teaching a child that they’re vulnerable is very important because it allows them to have permission to be human. Like, it’s okay if you cry, it’s okay if you feel sad, it’s okay that you don’t know how to do this, it’s okay that you are disappointed. It’s okay that you got splashed by Suzie when she jumped in the pool, I know that scared you, she didn’t mean anything by it, but I can understand why that frightened you.

So, they are vulnerable around all sorts of things, and so normalizing that vulnerability for them—or another way to say normalizing, is validating their vulnerability. What that will do for a child as you validate their vulnerability is teach them to be empathic. It will teach them to have love and concern for themselves and for other people, because just as you’re reminding them of their vulnerability, you’re also teaching them that you’re vulnerable too. Like, if Suzie would have jumped in the pool and you didn’t know she was going to do that and she splashed you, that would have startled you as well because you’re vulnerable to cold water.

And so, the child sees like, oh, so mom and dad are vulnerable, too? It’s like, yes, we are. And so, you have this beautiful modeling experience of they’re vulnerable and you’re vulnerable, which allows them to have some compassion for other people.

To accurately teach and train them how to behave, how to think, how to manage their emotions, which means be responsible for their emotions, and thus choose their behavior, or their reactions, or their responses to their emotions. So, that’s a lot of things to teach a child, and I’m chuckling because you might be sitting there thinking, oh my gosh, I’ve already screwed my kids up. Or, my kids are already raised and gone, what am I going to do now? Don’t shame yourself, just realize that you did the best you knew how to do, and any other child that you’re going to have access to, you’re going to start practicing these principles of teaching them how to be responsible.

So, again, if you have charge over a child, it is very, very important that you either verbalize they are responsible for those three things—emotions, thoughts, and behaviors—but also that you are constantly giving them examples of how they’re responsible for those things. Like, you’re constantly pointing that out to them.

So, if you’re driving to the store and you’ve got two kids fighting in the backseat, you’d say, “Hey, Emilia, what are you feeling right now?” “I’m feeling mad because Jack keeps poking me.” It’s like, “Jack, are you being responsible for yourself?” “Well, Emilia’s taking my drink and so I’m mad at her.” “Okay, so why don’t you both look at what your choices are and let’s take turns being responsible for what’s going on, so Emilia, you want to take responsibility for why you’re bothering your brother?”

And even though parents typically don’t talk to their children like this, you can. Children are sponges, they will pick up any language that you teach them, literally. You want to teach them a foreign language, they’ll pick it up. And so, you can use this kind of verbiage with a child and they can learn how to talk, and think, and emote in a very mature way even though they’re two, three, four, five years old. There’s no reason not to teach them these principles at a very, very young age. It gives them more opportunity, more time, to practice these as they grow up.

So, the adult’s job—the parent’s job—is for you to understand your own self. Why is that so important that you understand yourself? Here’s why: if you are not living a life where you are being responsible for yourself, there is no way you are going to be able to teach a child or your child how to be responsible for themselves.

People say, “How do I teach a child to not be selfish?” And I’ll say, “Well, how are you doing in that department?” And they’re like, “Excuse me?” “Well, how are you doing? Are you not selfish?” And they’re like, “What does it have to do with me?” “Because if you show up in a selfish way, you’re going to model that for your child. Your children are going to follow what you do, not follow what you say.”

And so, I’m always encouraging parents to learn these principles themselves, so that as they teach their children, they are not only verbally teaching but they are behaviorally teaching—modeling for their kids, how to be emotionally honest, how to hold boundaries, how to validate, how to be vulnerable, how to be clear and direct, how to hold boundaries within themselves and share those boundaries with others.

So, for example, when you become triggered as an adult, as you surely will, you will teach them how to manage that trigger, and say “Well, mom’s triggered.”

I’m trying to think of a trigger I had recently. I dropped my contact in the toilet the other day and I was so triggered. And I was scared to death that I didn’t have any extra contacts. I was trying to keep my contact on my finger as I was walking across the bathroom floor and it dropped and fell in the toilet. I wasn’t brave enough to pull it out and so, I was very triggered.

Now, if I would have had a child in the bathroom with me and I said out loud like, “Ugh, I can’t believe I just dropped my contact in the toilet.” I would be modeling for the child an emotion and a behavior. And they will look in the toilet and go, “Yep, there’s mom’s contact.”

And if I got really mad, if I got mad at myself, if I got mad at the toilet, if I started swearing or acting belligerent, or slamming things around, then I will be modeling for my child not an act of responsibility but an act of irresponsibility, an act of immaturity. And I would need to go back and clean that up, to teach them that the way that I behaved was inappropriate.

And so, you have to learn how to manage your triggers as they come up, so that you can model appropriate behavior. And even if you model inappropriate behavior, it’s the beauty of repentance, or change, or vulnerability to say, “Oops, I made a mistake. I’m sorry, kiddo. That was not appropriate, the way that I acted. Accidents happen, mistakes happen. I dropped my contact in the toilet and that was really upsetting and the consequence was that I didn’t have a contact for the next 20 hours. I didn’t like that outcome and it’s appropriate that I felt the way that I did, and for me to slam things around and yell was inappropriate. I’m sorry I scared you.”

So, even if you show up in a way that is less than mature, less than responsible, the good news is, you can always clean that up, which is awesome, because that’s modeling for your children, too.

When a parent or an adult manages themselves in ways that are healthy, it makes a child’s life much more simple as they grow up, because they learn these healthy skills. They’re not having to sift through all of your undealt with issues that you haven’t cleaned up yet. Now, for many of us, we still have issues from our histories that we haven’t cleaned up, and so even though we try to not have our histories affect our kids, if you’ve not cleaned those things up, they will leak into your parenting. And so, just know that the Reality is, is that most of us, if not all of us, have had some kind of experiences in our past from our parents or our care providers that they’ve projected their stuff onto us and so we need to work through those things. Some of us have received more baggage from our past than others, but we’re all responsible to clean it up, because it will come out in the modeling towards our children.

So, we all do our best, we work on recognizing our own issues, our own emotions, our thoughts, our reactions, our behaviors, etc. And we own them, and owning them means we’re responsible for them.

Now, if we’ve had trauma from our childhoods, when I saw we own that, it doesn’t mean you’re responsible for the trauma that happened to you as a child, you are now responsible for how you are emotionally and behaviorally acting that out. You are responsible for that. And however it is that you’re holding that or it’s manifesting itself in your life, those are the things that will come out and teach your children.

And so, even though you may not want that to leak onto your kids, it will. It’s like, if you get back from a long day’s work and you sit down and your child is eating a hot dog in front of you, and they take a bite and it all squirts out the backside and mustard and ketchup fall on your brand-new shoes, and all of a sudden, you start screaming.

Or you come home and your child says something to you that’s really disappointing, and you feel personally attacked by them and you take it out on your child by saying, “You’re being very rude.” Or, “I can’t believe you don’t care about me.” Or, “How could you say that to me?” And the kid’s like, “What? I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”

But because of your own history that’s not been cleaned up, you took something and it went into a place of shame. And now, you’re reacting to your own stuff and not what’s really happening in the present. So the child starts getting confused.

So, you are responsible for all that stuff: your emotions, your thoughts, your reactions, your behaviors. You also teach your children about boundaries—being responsible for their emotions, that they get to manage those, that they need to stay vulnerable, they need to learn how to surrender, and be honest. They need to learn how to say they’re sorry. They need to make reparations to others and self when they have done wrong. They need to share their emotions and receive validation for them. They need to learn how to be empathic and be accountable when they experience a trigger, and help them understand what the trigger means. Help them understand why it is that they’re feeling triggered.

So, basically, you’re teaching them these characteristics because it will support them to stay connected to themselves and others.

They also need to learn—and this is your responsibility—to teach them how to deal with all emotions. All of them, like disappointment, sadness, anger, resentments. Every emotion they are privy to.

Children are choosing from the very day that they are born. Now, are they conscious that they’re doing that? No, they’re not. But they are in the act of choice, and so it is our responsibility as an adult to draw their attention and keep their focus on their own feelings, their own thoughts, their own behaviors.

We do them a huge disservice when we do not help them learn that the things they feel and the things that they think are their responsibility to manage; they’re not anyone else’s responsibility. The way that they perceive the world is their own unique way of perception, and you get to be curious with them and help them understand why they’re perceiving the world the way that they are, and make sure that their perception is accurate, like they have the accurate information, they’re being emotionally honest with themselves. And that they’re willing to be responsible for their emotions inside those interpretations that they’re making, so that when they go to choose, when they go to behave their feelings, they make choices to act out their thoughts, that those choices will produce consequences or outcomes that will support them to, again, feel responsible for themselves.

So, it is a cycle. Lack of responsibility can create a vicious cycle of destruction if the person’s not willing to be responsible for themselves, which means their thoughts, their feelings, their choices. But if you will teach them that they’re always—that’s a constant—that they’re always responsible for those three things: how they feel, what they think, and what they choose.

And after they make choices, there will be outcomes. They are responsible for those outcomes as well, so please, please, if you are raising children, don’t get in the way of their consequences. When they make a choice and they have an outcome—and be wise about this, I mean we don’t want them to have outcomes that are going to irreparably harm them—and, allow them to experience the consequences.

If you tell them, “Don’t turn on the hose.” And they choose to be disobedient and they turn on the hose and it sprays them in the face, you can go over and be validating of them and you can also say, “You know what? This is why I asked you not to turn on the hose. I knew that that would shoot up and hit you and scare you. And that’s exactly what it did. I’m sorry that you’re startled. I’m sorry that that frightened you. And it’s really important that you follow mom’s directions.”

Now, if you notice I threw that word “and” in there. That’s a very important word because what it does, is it hooks the validation together with the responsibility. I validated the child, I’m sorry you were startled, you were scared and here’s why you need to be responsible and listen to instructions.

So, I am going to actually end there and start another podcast around some questions. I have probably 15 questions from people who want some answers around responsibility and children. So, that is a foundational groundwork of the principles that children need to be responsible for, and we’ll just launch into the next podcast. We’ll start answering some questions, but keep the foundation of being responsible for my thoughts, my feelings, and my choices in mind as you hear these answers to these questions.

We’ll catch you in the next podcast. Bye bye.

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