Parenting Mantras

Love vs. Duty

“Love is a better teacher than duty.” – Albert Einstein

Think of something you really LOVE to do. For me, it is swimming. Now think of how you were introduced to that topic. I had a fantastic teacher that made it fun – and I was allowed to play in the pool. I had the most in-depth story line about a mermaid who was trying to swim faster and faster until she made it all the way across the ocean (the pool) without stopping singing (holding my breath). It was fantastic. I wanted to become a better swimmer, so I found a way to work at it myself. I became an instructor, started a swimming program, a water aerobics program and eventually, ran a pool.

I still love to swim today – after a long days work, I will hop in, do a swim workout and then spend some time doing cartwheels in the middle of the lane to help end the workout with a little fun. I often find myself using the pool when I need to think of creative ways to get a work out in or meet up with friends.

No one taught me this. I was taught how to safely have fun in the pool and then given free time to roam and discover skills on my own.

Remember Highlights magazines as a kid? Yep – they are still around. I loved their article on “Smart Ways to Back Off Just a Little”. It includes advice such as teaching techniques and tools rather than how to complete an activity and, important for me, don’t jump in and constantly praise, rather ask questions and help build up their creative skills. I also liked “Killing Creativity in Children” from The Second Principle. They summarize seven “killers” that, as a reflect how I handle certain situations around the house and even at work, I know I need to work on hovering and over-control.

The article also offers ways to foster creativity in our fast paced lives. One passage that resonated, “Therefore, if we say that we value creativity and its many processes and products, we must ultimately be willing to teach the art of reflective behavior and foster persistence in our young. However, developing these attributes in children takes the gift of time, and our children must be given that gift if they are ever to become truly creative.”. We have to be willing to give a child time to learn and develop a passion and love for something rather than prescribe it.

I love this writing project because I feel like I have a lot more skills that I can tuck into my back pocket and remember when I’m “in the moment”. This topic is huge for me – let her find things that she loves on her own. Don’t hover. Teach her tools and give her opportunities to learn, then  back off and let her discover. As I think through this, I’m imagining myself biting my tongue when she is using tools differently and letting her draw shapes and tell me what it is rather than me guessing.

What are some ways you help your kiddos find something they love? For those of you with very little ones like myself, how are you preparing for this if at all?


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