“DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO” IS A LOAD OF DON’T
Just wait,” my friend said. “You’ll see.” It was her succinct argument in defense of parenting hypocrisy. Yelling at your children to “Stop yelling!” for example is an offense to which I’d sheepishly plead guilty. Fine, she had me there. But years ago, before my hops had sprouted into Beers, she was royally pissed at me when I told her that it was bad form to tell her children, “Do as I say, not as I do.” “Because, say it or not,” I’d said, “It doesn’t work. They’re going to do what you do.” Now, I can only hope so.
YOU CAN’T GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE
It’s in the Zeitgeist; we’re hearing it everywhere from the friendly skies—”Please make sure to secure your own mask before assisting others”—to talk shows featuring life coaches and self-care experts [How'd'ya get that gig?]. In discussions about everything from weight gain to burn out, peppered amid “guilt-free relaxation” tips, it’s all about putting me before we. This line of thinking expands beyond the realm of meeting your own needs before helping others with theirs: You can’t teach what you don’t intimately know.
SHOW DON’T TELL
“Show, Don’t Tell” is often a note scribbled in the margins of writing workshop submissions. It’s the catchall for communicating with the writer that we, as the readers, would prefer to be shown than told. Don’t tell me she’s nervous. Instead, have the character wipe her palms on her thighs. When it comes to creativity, to raising creative thinkers and doers, it’s not about telling them to draw and handing them some crayons. It’s about modeling the behavior, show, letting them see you being creative. This is the philosophy that marks the pages of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for Parents: Raising Creative Children. You can’t give what you don’t have. And saying, “But I’m not creative,” is just a heaping pile of bullshine. It’s an excuse. Instead of excuses, opt for expeditions.
Creative Expeditions are once-weekly dual adventures that you plan with your child, look forward to, and take together. Even if you’d ordinarily do these things anyway—take a trip to the zoo, a concert, museum, holiday lights walk—the key is to plan the outing and look forward to it together. Personally, I tie these experiences into the “Good Behavior Points System” where when a child earns 10 points for good behavior, s/he may choose an experience as a reward. Points may be earned in a day or in a week, it’s up to the parent. And children may not ever ask, after behaving especially kind, “Did I earn a point?” That’s part of the rules. If they ask, they don’t earn the point. My point? It works. Good behavior, good adventures. Double win.
The book is all about nurturing your own creativity, with tons of exercises designed to help you pass the nutrition on to your child. From sharing “Highlights” from your day at bedtime to making a Favorite Things list, your home will be creative, nurturing, and a lit bit magical. These aren’t big ideas involving paint and a nightmare cleanup situation, no. They’re exercises that involve inward reflection that results in thoughtful action with your kids. I love the way this book enriches all of our lives. Oxygen masks for one and all… at the same damn time.
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