Perhaps it was good fortune that turned our children into creative individuals, but I’d like to think my spouse and I had a hand in it, too.
Here are our 10 words of wisdom for parents, as well as for grandparents:
1. Encourage. My relationship with our children has always been, Whatever your little heart desires (WYLHD). I didn’t pamper them with expensive purchases or give in to outrageous or dangerous whims. Instead, I praised their artistic passions and encouraged their journeys towards them.
2. Non-Judgmental. I resisted commenting about our children’s body sizes, wardrobe, gender identifications or other choices. Instead, I considered their divergence a positive step. Creativity demands confidence in one’s own preferences and a willingness to forgo the need for others’ approval.
3. Audacity. Raised to be compliant, I always admired my kids’ audacity. On almost all of my children’s endeavors, I initially envisioned foreboding. Luckily, they ditched my fears, and their boldness led the way to success in their fields.
Creativity demands confidence in one’s own preferences and a willingness to forgo the need for others’ approval.
4. Patience. When either of my offspring appeared to procrastinate, I repeated this phrase: They march to their own drummer. You, like I, may be the checklist type who happily ticks off the steps of a project until completion. But my children didn’t always heed to my timetable, and inspiration arrived on its own schedule.
5. Schooling. In our mind, classmates from different racial, ethnic and income groups gave our kids more realistic experiences that widened their worlds and imaginations. We believed that our kids’ experience in a diverse school system helped them become the blessings we would enjoy knowing.
6. Guidance. The philosophy espoused in the classic parenting book, Children the Challenge, by Rudolf Dreikers, spoke to the kind of upbringing I was comfortable with. For example, if my kids squabbled, I didn’t referee. No, “You’re older, you should know better.” Instead, l left the room and allowed them to settle it themselves. I credit this philosophy with helping my children become the very good friends, supporters and creative collaborators they are today.
7. Listen. When one of our kids resisted a camp in northern Wisconsin that was dedicated to athletics and wanted to come home after a few days, we ignored the director’s warning and rescued them. Our WYLHD ideology didn’t ruin their life; instead it verified that their parents respected their unease and affirmed our unconditional love. Of course, this child returned to camping, swimming and other sports as an adult. But during their youth, we honored their misgivings.
8. Applaud. Our children started writing and performing in theater from a young age. Even though their spunk oftentimes produced shocking and irreverent material, I was the loudest to cheer their talent. I showed up for their plays and recitals, and boasted, “That’s my kid!”
9. Confidence. We never considered our children’s creativity a frivolous endeavor or suggested they have a “real job” in place if their initiative went awry. We were continually supportive of their journeys and offered trust in their eventual success.
10. Celebrate. From childhood recitals, college theatricals and adult performances, I was my kids’ most ecstatic cheerleader. And I wasn’t shy about sharing our children’s wonderfulness with friends and family. Although my kids groaned when I’d regale waiters, salespeople, and complete strangers with their accomplishments, that never stopped me from trumpeting our pride and love.
Confirming My Belief in WYLHD
My two grown children now have children of their own, and I’m honored to witness my grandkids being raised in our Whatever Your Little Heart Desires philosophy.
Faith and Jill’s collaborations — that began on childhood playgrounds — moved on to The Real Life Brady Brunch in Chicago and their most recent delight, Transparent : Musicale Finale.
On their own, Faith created rock operas that included Miss Folk America and Jesus Has Two Mommies. And Jill won two Emmys for creating, writing, executive producing and directing the influential Transparent series on Amazon.
Both Faith and Jill are involved in new projects that I’m convinced will further confirm my belief in WYLHD.
Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:
- 20 Days of 20 Notes: A Gratitude Project
- How to Be an LGBTQ Ally
- Take the ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ Creativity Challenge
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