Since working on my recent podcast, “Your Family is a Work of Art,” I’ve been a little obsessed with the notion of creative parenting. I’ve been examining what it can look like in my own life, the ways it benefits my family – and how to do it more often! As I chew on this concept, consciously calling on my own creativity when I’m with my kids, my parental stress dissipates. When I parent from a creative place, we have more fun, flow and connection. Who doesn’t want more of that in family life!
When I watch my five year old draw, he has this natural flow with no obvious upfront agenda. He simply adds to his picture as he develops a narrative in his imagination. When his drawing doesn’t turn out the way he intended, he just changes his story and turns it into something else – without getting hung up on it being “right” or not. His flexible, joyful, non-critical approach to making art inspires me. It reminds me how much I loved to draw when I was little – and that unfortunately, like many, I stopped drawing as I got older.
Take a moment and think back to when you were a child, maybe five or six years old. What were some of the things you loved to do? One of my favorite memories is gliding across our frozen pond in rubber boots, pretending to be an ice skater. From playing make-believe to building sand castles or blanket forts, a lot of our happiest childhood memories come from using creativity.
‘My kids love to draw together, but my younger daughter becomes frustrated because her drawings don’t look as ‘good’ as her sister’s.’
‘My daughter has always loved painting but over this past year she has become self-conscious about her creations ‘not turning out right’ or not ‘being as good’ as her brother’s.’
I don’t know what to say to my son when he tells me, ‘Mine doesn’t look like the teacher’s. I messed up, it’s not good.’
Does any of this sound familiar?
I went on the swings with my son at the park yesterday and it was one of the most joyful experiences of my life. He sat on my lap facing me and we took turns pumping our legs until we got quite high. Holding on to the chains, he leaned back and as the wind blew through his hair and his entire being filled with joy, he shouted, “Wooooo-hooooo!” Then I leaned back and felt the rhythmic motion of the swing carrying us through the air, and I shouted, “Yee-ha!” We both laughed as we took turns leaning back shouting. Then he wrapped his arms around me until the swing slowed to a stop. I felt so connected to him, so happy and alive in that moment.
Making art can provide a similar opportunity for joy, both for us and our kids. When we make art we can’t help but to be in the present moment. Art engages all of our senses and we become captivated with what is right in front of us. I think this is why making art is so enjoyable and so good for us.
Being present is an essential part of learning new things; It’s required if we want to connect with each other and we need to be present in order to experience joy.
The art of being present is something we can practice along side our kids- take a walk, make art, play together.
Today my son turns 5 years old. I am so grateful for all of the life lessons he teaches me. As he grows, I grow. He inspires me to pay attention to what’s truly important and helps me to remember to be present during the crazy/serious/sweet parts of life.
I did something really brave, at least it was brave for me. I stood up in front of 700+ people and gave a talk at Ignite Seattle back in May. You may not know it but I’m terrified of public speaking. You’d think it would be a breeze since I’ve been on camera with Thrive Online, but in front of a live audience, there are no out-takes. I had one shot to share a message that I care deeply about and this was my first time public speaking since I bombed on stage during a high school play over 20 years ago. I still remember my mind going completely blank, the spotlight on me, the audience’s uncomfortable whispers and the shame I felt when I left the stage.
Ironically, my Ignite Seattle presentation was about supporting kids through their feelings of failure and as I approached the microphone, my heart pounded. I was terrified my mind would go blank, that I would fail publicly, again.
And you know what- it happened, after my first slide, I froze. All I could hear in my head was- shit, shit, shit. Those seconds of silence felt like agonizing minutes. But this time I stayed on stage. This time I finished my talk. And while I did go blank- twice- (which I am still having a hard time letting go of), I faced my fear and moved through it- unintentionally demonstrating the primary message of my talk.
So often we associate failure with shame and pain and want to avoid it at all costs. But daring to go after our dreams and step into the fire, is worth the risk. My presentation wasn’t flawless, but I had the opportunity show up and share what’s important to me and some of that old high school shame melted away.
Things in life never go exactly how we’d like. But if we try again- celebrate what worked and learn from what didn’t, we set a great example for our kids. We show them that there is always more to learn and ways we can grow. We teach them that overcoming failure is necessary in creating a life you love.
Ignite Seattle: I Want to teach your Child to Fail