Are You Killing Your Children's Creativity?
Do we kill our children's creativity and self expression with rules and regulations? Is our insistence that our kids do what they are told teaching them to be automatons?
I'd offer a strong yes to those question.
Consider this scenario;
Yesterday I'm sitting at home, writing, and my son says; “Mam can I have a Mr. Freeze?”
She mildly loses the plot with him. “No Cian, I told you 20 times already, you're not getting a Mr. Freeze. It's 10:30 in the morning, no way, don't ask me again!”
I thought she was a bit over the top with her response.
However I've been in that place before so I understand after 20 something requests for a Mr. Freeze, the question was starting to pull at the threads of my wife's patience.
We've all been there, stressed out from other things and pushed too close to the edge of our patience by our kids.
But what's the real issue here?
Who has the problem and what is our reaction teaching our kids about how this society we've brought them into works?
The Parent's Role In Children's Development
There is nothing necessarily unusual about the example above, it happens it most homes between the child and their parents – myself included.
Sometimes we haven't got the energy to argue, and under the weight of their persistence we give in. We allow them what they ask for just to get some peace.
Other times we just flat out lose it and then there is the predictable fallout; crying upset child and angry parent. Not a good environment to have at home at all.
Despite our blind insistence that we're doing what's best for them, the truth is that neither response is the correct one.
Neither response shows our kids how to properly regulate their emotions and behaviour. And in the process we damage their ability to express themselves in a healthy and creative way.
By reinforcing this pattern of behaviour over many years, we condition our children to stay boxed in.
“I won't ask Man and Dad for that because I know they'll get angry.”
Their brains are literally wired with this idea that they need to follow the rules or else. They take this idea into adulthood and it influences everything they do.
It's normal, most parents engage with their child this way. However it doesn't make it right or proper, nor does it encourage creative or divergent thinking.
Something has to change.
Dealing With The Fear Reaction
If I ask you to let go of the need to control the situation you'll likely be gripped with a mild fear or anxiety. Cognitively we just cannot grasp the concept of allowing our children freedom to make decisions.
We have developed by our own childhood conditioning, a mild neurosis around the need to control them and their behaviour.
Our entire society is built this way, how could we not be affected by it?
We rationalise our own behaviour by stating;
That's how we were reared and we didn't turn out too bad. We got to give our children boundaries or they will have no sense or right and wrong!
A convenient response, one that reinforces our flawed ideas.
Our children are largely a product of their home environment, and absolutely everything we think, say and do influences their development either in a positive or negative way.
So it is our responsibility as parent to examine our own behaviours and ask ourselves if we are really doing the right thing.
How our parents did it, and how we now do it, is not necessarily good for our kids, with most of it merely reinforcing flawed principles of parenting.
The research available around childhood creativity speaks for itself, so give it a read.
I could produce volumes on this subject, but I'll leave it there for now.
Here's What You Missed On The Blog This Week
This week continued the subject of creativity and further promotion of The Artist's Manifesto and further development of The Storymaker idea.
We are all Storymakers, and we are constantly creating our own stories. The only question is, are we doing is consciously or by default?
We've been conditioned to follow other people's rules, forget that! Start doing things for the sake of it. Listen to the small voice, learn to hear it and follow your instinct.
Here's what you missed on the blog this week;
Monday – How Did I End Up Here?
Tuesday – Is A Round Of Applause & A Cheque Selling Out?
Wednesday – I bummed out
Thursday – When Irrational Fear Of Things Stops The Creative Dead
Friday – Mick’s Small Business Is Failing, Here’s What I Told Him
Saturday – Storymaker
Sunday – You're reading it
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, see you all tomorrow with a new article
Guilty as charged, and its the biggest regret in my life. How does a parent get around the history of the parenting they received, and the pressures of the society they live in. Of course, you can always just “do your own thing” – but usually a child has two parents and the influence becomes concentrated if not competitive. I don’t know. I have talked with my daughter, and she says she’s fine and loved the way she was raised – what else would I expect her to say -right? But she is very smart, doing well beyond my expectations, so why should I worry. I think she is afraid of showing her creativity, she says she just hasn’t found anything that interests her to try. I, of course, keep tossing something in her path – textiles, ceramics, inks, digital, watercolors, photography, crayons, clay – an she looks at them an walks away. Its not time for her. Maybe it wasn’t all me? How to deal with a mother’s guilt. Catholic guilt is the pits. Mother’s guilt is killing.
I think we all question our ability to parent our children effectively. There’s no getting it 100% right, besides, what would that perfection look like? Self criticism is probably the worst form of criticism and most damaging. I examine my motivations and reactions to my kids all the time. Sometimes it’s like watching a car crash in slow motion and being able to do nothing about it. Afterwards there’s some regret with regard to how I reacted, but I realise I can’t dwell there because it does me or my kids no good. All we can do is our best, develop our own self awareness and try do better next time. Focus on the positive outcomes, recognise the negatives then burn them up, they don’t serve us.
Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience Gerry, I greatly appreciate it.