“You’ll be a star.”
“You should apply to this prestigious school.”
“You’re a natural.”
Many creatives heard those phrases from well-meaning adults over and over as children. Being young and creatively gifted brings unique pressures, but most of us learn to manage them. Now, years later, our children are the ones that people are talking about.
It’s no surprise that creative people often have children who show promise in the arts. But we want our children to enjoy their artistic journey without being crushed by our expectations or the expectations of others. How can we make sure that happens?
Here’s three ways to make sure your child isn’t robbed of the joy of being creative.
- Don’t be too critical. Even though we love our children, we also are pretty good at identifying mistakes and flaws. After all, we only became good at our creative work because we were hard on ourselves. But our children don’t need us to be their worst critics in an attempt to shape their careers or to push them to higher levels. Teach them to enjoy the process, and celebrate them even when you know their work can improve.
- Don’t set extreme expectations. Just as we shouldn’t be critical of our children’s creative output, neither should we load them down with excessive expectations. Telling them that they’ll be the next big star may seem encouraging, but some children might assume that you expect them to become the next big star. Give them room to determine just how passionately they want to pursue their dreams, and if they choose to pursue greatness in their field, we can then cheer them on.
- Don’t forget to enjoy life. Both creative parents and creative kids can get wrapped up in projects and activities to the point that we forget to live normal lives. As parents, we will sometimes have to pull highly creative kids back to reality in order to keep them grounded. This doesn’t mean they can’t spend lots of time in their creative world, but make sure they also connect with people, activities and responsibilities outside of that world. You’ll help them become more fulfilled and balanced adults as they develop their creative abilities.
Being a parent is a gift, and having a talented child is yet another gift. Let’s treat both gifts with care and let our children grow into the amazing adults they’ll become.