Do you want to raise creative kids? Me too. But are we raising producers or consumers?
The Dilemma of Too Much Information
We live in such an interesting time in history. Never before have human beings had SO much information at their fingertips. We are only a few hundred years removed from the invention of the printing press, for crying out loud. For thousands of years prior, most of the world couldn’t even read, let alone read about anything and everything at any moment of the day or night on a tiny pocket computer.
Is all this “information” helping us become better people? In some ways, yes. And in other ways, definitely not.
The Beauty of Creativity
Have you ever watched a kid play outside in the woods? With no direction, an outdoor wonderland with no “toys” comes to life. Sticks are transformed into swords for an epic duel. Mud takes on a new life as it’s shaped into pies. Smooth stones morph into treasure for a young pirate’s booty. A chipmunk becomes a friend for a lively round of hide & seek.
Children are wonderfully creative beings. They see the world around them as full of endless possibilities. Their sense of curiosity and wonder leads them on adventures that transform the mundane into something magical.
And yet, they are robbed on a daily basis of the freedom to create and explore…all in the name of progress. But is this the progress we want our children to make?
The Battle of Consuming vs. Producing
Last year, my husband and I realized that, because of our own busy schedules and the grief of losing his parents, our kids were having more screen time than we would have liked. And to be honest, we were having more screen time than we should too.
And suddenly, we realized something. We could spend our entire lives sitting back and passively consuming content that somebody else created.
Or, we could be the kind of people who create.
I met with the producer of a popular kids show on Netflix recently and we got to talking about shows in general. Do you know what shows she watches? None of them. She’s having too much fun creating them.
Does that mean we should never watch tv or play video games? Not at all. I love a good movie night more than anyone. But the problem is when consuming content becomes the norm and producing it is merely a distant dream. While consuming content can be a lot of fun, you know what’s even more fun and a lot more meaningful? Creating it.
What Happens When We Make Space to Create?
That same magical transformation that happens when a simple stick becomes a sword in the hand of a child happens in your adult imagination as well, every time an idea becomes a reality that somehow brings life or strength to those around it.
When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have video games. (I may or may not have been found on occasion at my best friend’s house devouring a game of Mario Brothers.) My screen time was limited to 1 hour a day and when it was up, it was up, despite my desperate pleadings with my mother.
So you know what I did with all that extra time? I began to create. I would brainstorm ideas for a story and spend hours, holed up in the room over our garage, typing away as my story came to life on the page.
I invented things. I rigged all kinds of pulley systems in my room and even tried my hand at making my own vending machine once.
I dreamed up elaborate tales that I played out with my dolls or Barbies or Legos that lasted hours.
I started small businesses. The summer I was 10, I had a pet-sitting business and a successful lemonade stand and made several hundred dollars.
The Power of Producing
Creativity is a treasure. It’s fun and fulfilling and makes you come alive with possibility. But more than that, it’s a key to unlocking potential in others as well.
One person’s creative idea to invent a light bulb opened the door for millions of people to enjoy electricity in their homes.
One person’s creative writing has opened an entire generation of minds to see things differently.
One person’s creative speech has changed the trajectory of society and led to an entire people group stepping into their rightful place in society.
Creativity unlocks potential, not just in you, but in the people around you.
Shifting Our Family Culture
What if we raised our kids to be creative producers instead of passive consumers? What would it look like if talking around the dinner table moved past the latest video game and became a collaborative brainstorm session about improving our neighborhoods?
What if, instead of thinking about the next episode we want to consume, our kids were talking about the content they want to produce that helps solve a problem for people in need? Or brings joy or encouragement or hope to those who are hurting?
When my husband and I decided to start exploring the online world of content creation…videos, blogs, podcasts…guess who was excitedly right on our heels asking questions and dreaming up possibilities? Our 6 year old daughter.
So we started helping her record her own story podcast. It was as simple as opening a voice memo on my phone and letting her go for it. Over the past few months, her stories have gotten better and better and I love witnessing her creative imagination at work.
When I think about the people who have changed the course of history, I think of producers, not consumers.
What if we, as parents, started shifting the culture of our homes and families to encourage creativity instead of just consumption?
Our families might just change the world.
Want to shape your family? Grab a copy of the Shape Your Family Values guide I created below!
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