It seems as though in the last decade the number of parent bloggers has skyrocketed, and for good reason. Who doesn’t have a great story of their kid to share, or advice to up-and-coming parents who don’t fully comprehend the craziness, joy, and exhaustion being a parent can bring? And apart from the blog world, there are plenty of parent-turned-authors out there as well (including me!). If you’re a parent who has ever thought about picking up that pen, here are 4 reasons I think you should go for it.
You have a lifetime (and your child’s lifetime) worth of unique experiences to share: Some people don’t want to start their blog or write their book because they think it’s all been said before. But that is not true. Every child says a different funny thing, every person’s background and family life and thoughts are unique to them, and make for a unique story to be told. If you write honestly about your own experiences, you won’t be copying anyone by writing them down.
Writing can be a great way to document your child’s youth: There is so much writing can help you remember about your life than a photograph can. You’ll be able to look back on all sorts of fun memories you and your child share, and they will be able to someday read what you wrote and remember their childhood!
You can see the world through a new (younger) set of eyes: Writing from a child’s perspective can be one of the best things for a parent to do. You’ll have to work that much harder to understand their emotions and thoughts, making you more empathetic as a parent. Whether you’re writing a novel from a child’s P.O.V. or a blog post from their eyes, taking the time to put yourself in their shoes will make you a better writer and parent.
You can share the experience with your child: Basically, it’s another opportunity to bond! Coming up with blog posts together, like an arts & craft DIY or a book review will give you and your child a creative outlet to connect with, and will help them grow their own writing and creative skills. For me, writing my book was all a collaboration with my son, since the main character is one we came up with together when telling bedtime stories. A family who creates together, stays together!
Do you have a parenting blog, or a book you wrote that stemmed out of your parenting experience? Leave the name in the comments below, and we can all share each other’s experiences!
Recently I came across an article from the Parenting Herald which explored the idea that being a parent and doing creative work are somehow at odds with one another. As a single father and author, the fact that there are studies and articles going around saying that my two identities should be at odds with one another intrigued me.
The one quote I found to be the substantiation of this particular article’s argument can be summed up in this quote:
“The point of art is to unsettle, to question, to disturb what is comfortable and safe. And that shouldn’t be anyone’s goal as a parent.”
What I wonder, though, is why a person would need to apply the rules of their art to their parenting?
For as long as art has existed, we have thrown around the idea that an artist must be someone who suffers, a tortured soul of sorts, who can only make sense of this world by making art to ease their suffering—but only until another work of art needs to be made, of course. And while a number of suicides, a chopped ear, and other instances have validated this image of an artist for a long time, I know many writers, painters, musicians, and other artists who are very happy in their life, and make art for the enjoyment of making something beautiful.
These people also tend to be very happy in their home lives, and make excellent parents.
The way one parents and the way they make their art are separated, in the same way that a parent who works in finance doesn’t use those same skills and the “work” mindset into their parenting life.
One argument that I did believe worked in the article by the Parenting Herald was that there is a lack of energy in a parent to be able to produce art. Parents minds are often so utterly consumed by their children and their “day jobs,” that they struggle to find the time and energy required to create a work of art—which in itself is a time-consuming and energy-draining activity.
But I would also argue that those who aren’t parents struggle in this way; not having enough time is the most commonly used excuse to not make one’s art. The amount of truth behind that excuse varies from person to person, but the fact is, any artist needs to make their art a priority in order for it to get done. No matter your day job, if you have a sick parent or if you have five kids, if art is important enough to you—if it is a vital aspect of your identity—you will need to find time in your schedule, even if it is no more than five minutes, to make it.
As a father and an author, I can say that the struggle to find said balance is difficult. But I came out the other side with three published books, and a son who lived a happy childhood, and I never once found my two identities to be at odds with one another.
So often in today’s education emphasis is put on science and math skills for children to work on and improve, pushing things like writing, art, and music to the side because they are labeled as “less important.” But Ol’ Sands knew when he started creating the Night Buddies stories with his son that allowing children to strengthen their right brain and explore their creative sides can actually benefit them just as much as learning science and math skills can! Here are the top four benefits children gain from being creative:
Helps develop communication skills. When you ask a child to draw a picture or write a story about a certain topic, they have to think about how to communicate a certain theme or message creatively. They have to truly understand their subject, make conscious choices, and be able to clearly justify their creative decisions. This helps build their ability to communicate clearly and concisely with the people they engage with. Give your child a prompt, or a specific task, such as “I want you to draw our family,” and ask them why they make the dog a bow, or why they put a big smile on your face and a frown on their sister’s face. When you engage with your child as he or she creates, you help build their communication skills exponentially.
Allows your child to work through emotions or anxieties they might not even truly understand. When your child writes a story, he or she will probably choose themes and story-lines that reflect what they might be dealing with in their life. Maybe they’ll choose to write about or draw a small kid battling giants, reflecting their own feelings of being bullied at school. Maybe your child is experiencing stress over your recent divorce, so they work through the pain on paper in a safe and productive way. Gaining the skill to work through their emotions through creativity is a benefit that will last all their life—there is a marked difference between adults who know how to manage their stress and ones who drown in it.
Improves problem-solving skills. When your child wants to draw a picture a certain color, let’s say pink, but doesn’t have that color crayon, he or she is forced to experiment to see what colors can mix together in order to create the desired color. Or maybe they write a story like Night Buddies—getting their main character into trouble leads them to the decision that, as the author, they also have to get their character out of that trouble. In this way, creativity actually helps your child with their mathematic skills, because their brain will be oriented toward problem-solving.
Gives your child a taste of independence and ownership. When your child has a finished drawing, painting, story, or poem in their hands, they are rewarded with the satisfaction of having created something entirely on their own. They made each decision that went into the piece, they put in the time to create it, and they get to own the satisfaction of seeing your smile as you praise their hard work. No matter if your child is the next great American novelist or Picasso, or not, as long as he or she put in effort and is proud of the final product, they have earned the right to feel proud of themselves.
So the next time your child is telling you all about their imaginary friend Crosley and showing you all they wrote down about their adventures, don’t laugh it off or worry too much about them (this is a technique used by John’s mother in the Night Buddies series). Instead, read their stories, hang them on the fridge, and know that your child is reaping all kinds of benefits from that overactive imagination!