As a father of four, I had my kids at one stage at four different schools. My extended family questioned my sanity. “Why would you do that?” That’s four drop offs, four pick-ups, four communities to participate in. My answer echoed the sentiment in the Lennon quote; I wanted them to be happy. I have four very different kids, with their own unique set of needs. Our focus on finding the right place for them, was based on a hope to see their light shining brighter. I vividly remember my third child, Kaelan, coming home from one school. He was doing well with grades, had made friends, yet he sat on the couch and I could see the colour had drained out of him. Two schools later he is out of bed before he needs to be, and loves his schooling experience.
If you are a part of the Australian Acting Academy community there is a fair chance you are the parent of a creative child. Creative children and teens are often highly sensitive, emotionally and to the world around them. It is part of their gifts, but can also be a challenge for them to learn to manage. You may have seen anxiousness come into their lives. This is totally normal.
According to Charles Linden, CEO of the Linden Centre, “anxiety sufferers all share a superior level of creative intellect.” Linden notes this won’t necessarily equate to any type of academic superiority but “moreover as a distinct range of both physical and mental attributes affecting creativity, emotional sensitivity and clarity, eccentricity, creative energy and drive.”
Part of the issue is we often measure our kids (and ourselves as parents) on the academic success of our kids. Yet, if we are parents of a creative child, this may create a situation that impacts the goal of giving our kids a happy childhood.
Am I saying, “let them fail school”? Absolutely not. Yet I would say balance is the key to meeting your needs and their needs.
You see, schools are not geared towards creative kids. Schools need to measure and quantify. When it comes to true creativity, freedom to explore is a core need. When a creative child is forced to fit into a system that is very logical and sequential, it can end up affecting their self-esteem, their self-worth, and even their relationships with their parents. It is one of the challenges we face as parents of creative kids - their long term happiness relies on us fostering their creativity amidst a system that disengages it.
So what do we do about this? What are the “tips to happiness”? Some are simple, and many of us do them without thinking. If you’re like me though, you’ll also like to constantly check in with yourself on how you’re tracking here.
Here’s what I focus on.