A couple weeks ago I was at my local library branch when a new book caught my eye.
“I’m an artist,” I thought to myself, “and I want my child to be raised in a way that nurtures her creative side.” Initially I thought would wait until Baby Feldman was born to read this, but my curiosity got the better of me. (Plus I realized I probably have much more time to read now than I will in a few months.)
Even though since becoming pregnant I haven’t read much regarding parenting and raising children, I can tell this book is a keeper for me. I like author Julia Cameron’s philosophy about parents modeling for children things they enjoy that encourage creativity. She gives parents permission to do these activities and find time for themselves while also finding ways to incorporate their children into them or modifying them so that their children can participate.
Picking up this book was also very timely for me as lately I have been thinking about my own childhood and creativity, and what has led me to this point in my career. Although as I got older I was very focused on academics and getting into a good college, I realized I have always been a creative person even if I didn’t really consider myself to be one until recently.
As a young child I was an early riser, sometimes waking up so early on the weekend that when I put on the television you would get those bars of color on the screen and that grating noise (remember those days?). Like now, I found it difficult to just sit in front of the tv. I would entertain myself for what seemed like hours, building with legos or teaching myself origami. I had aspirations of making an art museum in my basement, and when I wasn’t dreaming it up I was using the space to rearrange the furniture to construct a doctor’s office or a house. My basement was my personal playground of creativity.
My parents enrolled me in art classes at our local community center, and I took piano lessons for many years. In middle school by far my favorite elective was woodworking. I was always making something and learning new crafts. I even participated in my first craft show was I was in seventh grade.
As I got older and my high school schedule got packed with more academic-focused classes, unfortunately my creative side started to take a backseat. The only elective I had time for was band. It wasn’t until my senior year, when they lengthened the school day and added an extra period, that I had time to take other electives. I enrolled in studio art and photography, and not surprisingly I loved them both. My senior year I forgo playing on the tennis team to be the co-editor of our school’s yearbook. I had my first introduction into design work, which granted is not my forte, but it later came in very handy when I designed and wrote our print newsletter at my last job, and to some degree has helped me with the blog.
I have always loved working with my hands and doing things that allowed me to explore my creative side. One of my favorite parts about my last job was designing our playgroup curriculum and making samples of the art activities. However, it was not until very recently that it occurred to me that I could do that for a living (or at least try).
By no means do I regret anything that I have done in my life up until this point or focusing on academics instead of pursuing more creative endeavors in high school and college. (Ironically, I did not take a single art class at a school known for its arts programs; it never even occurred to me.)
However, after looking back at my own childhood and becoming a parent for the first time, I have been thinking a lot about what values I want to instill in my children. I imagine that Sam and I will push our children academically. It was how we were both raised and it’s very much a part of our culture
But like my parents did for me, particularly my mom, I also want to encourage and model for my children the value of creativity. My mom always told me how creative I was and how very much I was like her mother, after whom I was named. Even though she always claimed she was not that artistic, my mom is and she has always modeled it for me. She took calligraphy classes for many years and hand-addressed all the invitations for my Bat Mitzvah. She learned how to do needle-point as an adult and made some very beautiful pieces for me and my sister. Recently, for the first time in decades, she took up knitting again and made a beautiful hat for her first grandchild (and is in the process of making a pair of matching socks!).
I realize that being creative may look very different for my children than it does for me. However, as my parents did for me, I want to create a home where creativity is encouraged whatever that form may be.
If you liked this post you might also want to check out:
- 5 easy things you can do to nurture your child’s creativity
- 8 posts on infusing creativity into your life