Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Raising interesting children

I was right when I predicted on Saturday that the house would be all about knitting. Here are a couple of pictures from the morning. 

D. and TM, having finished their work and were sitting and knitting together.

That's A.'s project on the table, which she had set down for a moment to help K. with something.

This happens so often, I wanted to write about it. "This" not being knitting per se, but my children becoming interested in whatever project I am engaged in and enjoying. The key word here is enjoying. They see me engaged in plenty of activities... laundry, bill paying, etc... but at no time have any of them ever started playing 'bill paying' or begged to help with the laundry. No, it is when they see that I am deriving pleasure from what I am doing that they become interested. I have seen it happen with knitting and sewing and painting and even organizing. (I really enjoy organizing things. If I start an organizing project, I can guarantee at least one other child will start one as well.) 

One of the lessons to be learned here is that if you want your children to be interested in things and be willing to try them, you need to model this behavior yourself. How many of us have a list of projects or goals that we have on the back burner for when the children are no longer at home? I do sometimes fall into that trap, but generally try to avoid it. Why do we need to wait to learn something new or engage in an activity we enjoy just because there are children around? Yes, time is often the issue, but you can start small for some things. Learn bits at a time... start a small project... take a short class. I am interested in developing my sewing skills, so I practice. I may not get to sew every day (or even every week), but I try to always have a project going. There are a couple of longer classes about fitting that I would love to take, but the time commitment just isn't viable right now. However, I did find a two-hour class on installing zippers that I could manage and was hugely beneficial. Just because you can't do everything you would like to doesn't mean you can't do something.

And chances are, not only will you be enriching your own life by pursuing your interests now, but also your children's lives because they will be watching you closely. One of your children may discover an area of interest to them because of something you were interested in. Even if none of your children fall in love with what you are doing, they will still have learned some very beneficial lessons. Those would include how to fill their time in engaging ways, that we all continue to learn things even as adults, that the world is an interesting place, and that people who are interested in things are often interesting to be around. 

Of course, you need to be willing to share your interests with your children if you can. If one of my children is interested in what I'm doing, I try to find a way that they can do it to. Teach them to knit (if they are capable), give them a small sewing project and allow them free use of the scrap bin, provide them with paints, help them search out books at the library (TM currently has two books on boat building waiting for him at the library), give them scraps of wood and nails and a hammer, or a square of dirt and a packet of seeds. Don't do it all for them, but work alongside them, each on your own project. You'll be there to help, but it will be theirs to figure out.

In the long run it's worth the effort... and the piles of yarn strewn about the house.

1 comment:

Shonya said...

Hmmm, my children *have* spent many hours playing "pay bills" using junk mail and stickers for stamps. :) They have NEVER played organization! What does that say about me? Lol

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