Raising A Dreamer & Owing Your Weird
I’m madly in love with the concept of raising creative children, of raising dreamers. Here’s what I’ve learned in my home that works for us to keep the hope and the dreaming going....
- Space ~ Kids need room to explore and be and do. This could be inside or outside, their room or the family room. Anywhere that sshhh and too messy don’t apply. I'm excited about setting up "Lochlan's Space" when we move into our new home next month.
- Time ~ Kids need free time, as in unstructured, unplanned, unmonitored time. This is so hard to get some days as two working parents but it’s there if we zoom out and let them be sometimes.
- Tech/No Tech ~ Kids need access to the things that intrigue them. Some of what they want to create can be enhanced by cool things online. But they also need time in their own heads to explore and imagine and create. There’s a balance here of course but we do allow Lochlan to have the iPad on the weekends.
- “I can’t wait to see what you come up with” “You can do this;” “I believe in you;” and “Tell me more;” are all wonderful variations of this. The main idea is you can do this plus, I believe that you can do this plus, I will get out of your way, I promise. It’s so easy to see our adult ideas spin circles around our kids’ imaginings, but the ideas can’t ever become theirs if we place our own parameters around them. Which is, surprisingly, a perfect leeway to the next idea...
- Help ~ If they ask for help, give them just what they need to keep moving, no more, no less. This is just like when our kids ask us questions about topics that we’d rather not discuss. When this happens, we try to share the bare minimum information, keeping their questions in mind. The same is true when they are creating. Answer their calls for help with questions, materials, ideas but just a few, then get out of their way. “Let me know if I can help” are fabulous words I keep in my parenting back pocket for this one.
- Mistakes ~ The biggest difference between a dreamer and someone who could have been a dreamer is fear. Fear of mistakes, of failure, of imperfection, of stolen ideas, of “not good enoughs.” When we teach our kids (by modeling our own reactions to their mistakes and ours) that mistakes are an every day (perhaps an every hour) occurrence, we let them know that they are part of the process, and that being a dreamer and a creator trumps every possible thing that they’re afraid of. This also includes letting go of our expectations, as parents, of who and what our kids are and where their sparks lie.
Dreaming is what makes the world go round. It’s the glorious freedom to be odd and quirky and a risk taker and loving every last bit of it, of you. I’m convinced that teaching our kids to own their odd is what makes them great and confident people. Weird is rad!