Raising Creative Children?
Let me start this missive by clearly stating: 1) I am no parenting expert. 2) We haven’t broken our kids yet.
I have two great friends whose children have grade point averages that are higher than 4.0. Understand that this means these kids have achieved more than 100 percent of what they were assigned to achieve. They are ABOVE above average.
I marvel at these kids, and I have found myself asking, on more than one occasion, what I failed to do that has both of my sons on track to graduate from college in more than the four years originally allotted and my high school daughter, while quite accomplished academically, feeling like the “dumb” one among her friends. (Her GPA is a 3.983, by the way.)
It’s human nature, though. We’ve all read about comparison being the thief of joy, but it’s hard not to compare – even inadvertently. When those moments happen, though, it doesn’t take long for me to remember that the things that have always been important to my husband and me are the things we’ve nurtured in our children: kindness, cultural appreciation, and – perhaps most tangibly – creativity.
My kids are famously creative. My eldest son is a talented multi-instrument musician and co-founder of an improvisational jazz band that has just finished recording its first full-length album. (Check out Mister Tie Dye.) My middle son is a gifted trumpeter who loves singing, but is even more passionate about gaming and gaming design. And my daughter is active in her school’s dance company and at her dance studio. She also plays the bass guitar. So why, when they know that academics matter, are their creative minds the places where they find the most peace?
Well, probably because of the power of suggestion. My husband has been a singer all his life, and he’s darn good at it. I sing, too, but not nearly as well as he does. Besides, words are my music. He listens to a song for the melody. I listen for the lyrics. We are creative people, and we have raised immensely creative people. While that may not have been premeditated, it was not by accident.
Bad. Bold. Wiser.
There are so many things we want our children to be, but when we model fearlessness, curiosity, love – when we take chances and live boldly, we show them how to become the versions of themselves that makes them most happy, most valuable.
Not everyone is “a creative,” but each of us creates each day. And by giving our children permission to feel their feelings and find their own outlets to express them, we give them permission to create. Certainly, a 4.0 GPA is something of which to be proud, but so is a touching book of poetry or a sketch that challenges people to think and feel.
Knowledge is a beautiful thing – but it is even more so when you can see the art in a mathematical equation and hear the song hidden within a history lesson. Approach your life’s work creatively and model for your children just what they “gotta be.” At least that’s what we did and, like I wrote earlier, we haven’t broken them yet.
A. Kenyatta Greer is a storyteller and editor who currently works as director of communications at Emory University School of Law. She has worked in newspaper, magazine, public relations, and advertising environments and enjoys choosing the perfect song to accompany particular moments in her life. (“Say, Say, Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson is perfect for flirting with your spouse while you cook dinner together.) Find her at akenyattagreer.wixsite.com/portfolio.