This past weekend we spent some time in a cabin on the lake with family. It was a much needed getaway especially after my recent parenting meltdown. Yesterday, I took the day slow and spent most of it with my babies. It was the first time in a while where it was just the three of us for most of the day. I really enjoyed our one-on-one time and not just because they were so well behaved. Our activities yesterday also got me to realize something with Kuya that made me question my parenting.
When it comes to memorizing, Kuya is like an encyclopedia. At three years old this boy can sing the lyrics to entire songs that he just heard on the radio a few hours earlier. However, when it comes to being creative, he constantly says he can’t do it.
While we were playing with playdough yesterday, he had asked me to make some characters from one of his favorite movies with the playdough. I told him to try making it first and he said he couldn’t because he doesn’t know how. I ended up making the figures which barely resembled the characters he had requested. However, Kuya was overjoyed by them, as if I had pulled them straight from the screen.
The requests to make more things continued and my urge for him to first try and make them himself continued to be denied with more “I can’ts”. I know he is only three years old, but this observation made me question how I could build creative confidence in my kids and what we may have done to hinder this confidence.
Good Parenting or Creativity Killer?
Anyone who has met Kuya will likely agree that he has some characteristics that make him unique from other kids his age. He is a free-spirit that likes to test our boundaries. I don’t believe he does it on purpose all of the time, but because of this we are constantly telling him he needs to do this or that he can’t do that.
As I was listening to him tell me he couldn’t make the playdough figures and that he couldn’t draw a snail I began to wonder whether our “disciplining” and “teaching” could be a reason for his lack of creative confidence. Of course our reasoning behind telling him he can’t do certain things is to try and protect him, however is this way of parenting also slowly killing his creativity?
I discussed my thoughts about Kuya with Nic. Talking about them out loud made us both think about how we can address this going forward. Nic and I are currently on a journey where we are exploring life outside of the comfort zone of the majority. We have realized the freedom and joy that this journey has given us thus far. We are defying the “rules of society”, yet when it comes to our children we didn’t realize that we may have been raising them to simply follow many of these rules such as doing as they are told, not questioning authority and staying within the comfort zone of those that “know better.”
Of course I will do all that I can to protect my children from true harm. Yes, I want my children to have good manners and not grow up to be jerks. However, I also want them to feel like they were given the freedom to explore and learn. I want them to feel like they don’t need to convert to the mold of what the cookie-cutter child should look like. I want them to embrace both their strengths and their flaws. I want them be original thinkers who may sometimes question authority and defy boundaries because they know that there is more out there.
I don’t know exactly how I will change my parenting style to foster creativity and confidence, however I won’t stop trying until those can’ts turn into cans.