One Must Crawl Before Walking

When I was a whippersnapper I got mixed messages about being an artist. I was a lap-sittin toddler when my mother taught me to draw and, well into my my adult years, my dad brought art supplies to me almost every payday. My parents loved that I could draw, but considered it more a parlor trick than a career. In their defense, back in the day, many working class families wanted their girls to develop domestic skills to serve the families they would one day nurture. The arts were a luxury for rich folk. 

Thanks to media and grassroots efforts, the arts are readily available to a broader audience and a creative career path is 'a thing'. The path, however, is still challenging and parents still try to protect their young creatives from its inherent disappointments. When children mimic a popular style of performance, literary, or visual art, some parents worry their child will be criticized for lack of originality. Likewise, when parents fear their physically awkward, rhythmically challenged, child will never perform on American Idol, they may attempt to defend or redirect their child. They may say things like "Oh he just copied that from the internet," or "That's nice, but enough for now," or "Why don't you play a real song?".

Though well meaning, such statements shake the confidence and slow the growth of a budding creative. They fail to recognize that every creative endeavor is a link to the creator's psyche. Each step, in the process of finding one's creative voice, is an exercise in determination and skill, and an opportunity for meaningful interaction. A young creative is exploring mediums of self expression, and dismissive or poorly timed comments are like teasing a mute for trying to talk.

As a once young creative, and on behalf of future creatives, I ask that you suspend your expectations and judgement, and that you join your child in their exploration of the arts for as long as that interest holds them. Whether your child chooses a creative career path or creates for their own enjoyment is irrelevant. What matters is that you walk, respectfully, with them.