My oldest daughter has a creative streak. She loves to draw and write stories. She can come up with some of the most outlandish outfits to wear. She and her friend make up silly songs. She's always coming up with new games to play with her friends. Give her a rock and a stick, and she'll find something to do that the whole neighborhood can play.
My youngest is creative, too, but in a different way. The games she comes up with generally imitate life. She'll take her matchboxes and race them around the house, offering detailed play-by-play along the way. She will make her stuffed animals talk to one another.
Creativity is a gift, and it's one we should treasure. Unfortunately, school and society don't often place a lot of value on creativity. School is generally all about facts and numbers. Most of the writing assignments my oldest gets are non-fiction essays, which doesn't leave a lot of room to be creative. So much of what society rewards is following the generally accepted path.
Yet, where would we be without creativity? We wouldn't have the light bulb or the personal computer or even a toilet. All of these things were created by men thinking outside of the accepted box. They were invented by people who saw a need and thought, "I can do better." Years of failure preceded Thomas Edison inventing the incandescent light bulb. Yet, he simply kept trying new things.
God created each of us with our own unique sense of creativity. It's one of the things that makes us unique. Some people are amazingly talented when it comes to the arts. They can draw, paint or make beautiful music. Others simply see the world a little bit differently and can make science and math do new things. These are the people that discover cures for diseases and invent new things.
Jesus said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). Sometimes God uses our creativity to make what seems impossible possible. In the 1800s, people would have told you that flying through the air was impossible, yet airplanes fly every day. In the 1940s, people would have told you going to the moon was impossible, yet 30 years later man walked on the moon.
As much as we need to encourage our kids to do well in school and follow the rules, we also need to encourage their creative side. God gave them creativity so they could do great things for Him. If we stifle our kids' creativity, we take away their ability to solve problems and create new things.
Because so much of the world is set up to reward those who march in step and not the ones who are creative, we must nurture that spark of creativity by providing opportunities for our kids to use that gift.
- Encourage your children to come up with creative solutions to their problems. If they're having trouble with another kid at school, help them to brainstorm ways to solve the problem. Look beyond the obvious and include some outside-the-norm ideas on your list.
- Create opportunities within your family for your kids to be creative. If your child likes to cook, let him experiment in the kitchen. If your child likes to draw, create a place in your home where she can hang her pictures for others to see. If your child loves Legos, hang a shelf where he can place his latest Lego creations. Make sure your kids know you value their creative side.
- Use dinner conversation to encourage creativity. Offer your kids a question or a problem and encourage them to be creative in their answers. It can be anything from "What type of tree would you be?" to "What would you do if you could fly?"
Creativity creates solutions to problems and can result in the creation of beautiful things. It's a gift, and we should value it and encourage it.