As a parent, I have always felt it was one of my “jobs” to be encouraging hobbies and creativity in my children.
My children are products of the 21st Century. They are very adept at using technology, which I would never have dreamed existed, as a child, the stuff of what science fiction programmes I watched. I love that we have such amazing things like the internet, smartphones, tablet devices, and the like for helping with entertaining and educating our children, I also like the “old fashioned” things we can do with our children so we do a lot of baking, and I attempt some crafting with them, although to be honest, I am not very good at crafts and usually dislike having to come up with creative ideas.
I want to foster and encourage creativity in my kids, though, so finding arts & crafts they can enjoy, that I can help them with, has been something I have been keen to do. I currently enjoy cooking, baking, knitting and collecting vintage tea cups. I also run for my health and mental health. These are things I love and enjoy and make me feel happy and give be a sense of wellbeing.
Encouraging creativity in our kids is fun, and important and finding things they enjoy is something a parent is there to guide them into. Some hobbies are taken up on a whim and then dropped and some hobbies can be expensive so need to be dealt with carefully. Horseriding is a fantastic sport, hobby and activity, but unless you can find a stable that will let you ride in exchange for grooming and stable chores, it isn’t a cheap hobby. But if you child adores horses and riding and that’s all they want to do, then that might be what you spend your money on to enable them to do that.
My children currently have creative hobbies, some of which I can claim I have passed down and some of which definitely are not my genetics. There is a difference between hobbies and skills or talents though but sometimes they can cross over. You could start learning to paint and draw as a hobby and then become the next Matisse or Van Gogh, or those pony rides you begged your parents for could translate to being the next Olympic dressage rider for your country.
My son is a dancer and is now looking at possibly taking the ballet and dance lessons he started as part of his therapy for sensory issues, that then became a fun hobby, and now are his main activity and more than a hobby, more seriously. He also likes to explore nature, he plays the violin, and he loves anything crafty and creative. He’s very musical, something he has inherited from my side of the family and me.
The teen loves all things crafty and to cook. She plays the violin, well, but it’s not her passion. she enjoys it and that’s what is most important. She also enjoys dance classes for fun, swims very well, and is incredibly organised and empathetic. She doesn’t have a single focused hobby but tends to enjoy lots of things.
One thing as a parent, I have learned is that you can’t push your desires, and ambitions on your children. You might be talented at a musical instrument or art but if your child shows no interest or doesn’t want to do those things you can’t push them. You may think your tiny toddler ballerina at her baby ballet classes is destined for stage greatness because you always wanted to be a dancer, but you cannot push that on your kids. Letting your children choose and flourish where they are most happy is the most important thing. Pushing them to do things they are not enjoying is not healthy for them and isn’t a good tactic.
What I will say though is that if my children start something, I pay for it, then they decide they don’t like it, or don’t want to carry on, is that we finish well and we try hard until that term or course is complete. We look at what isn’t working and if it can’t be fixed then we agree on a limit. If they have a course of ten drama classes booked and paid for, if possible they need to finish that course. Make the best of it and try their best. Then we stop. I also will not pay for an activity or hobby if I don’t think they are fully invested in it.
Also, sometimes your children will choose hobbies that might make your hair go grey that bit earlier than anticipated. A friend of mine has a 19-year-old son who took up off-road biking when he was 9 with his dad, as a fun thing to do and a hobby. He’s now a local champion rider and takes part in competitions and events. She’s had her fair share of trips to A&E with him for injuries, but because he loves it and is good at it, she smiles, cheers him on and crosses her fingers every time he goes to an event that he won’t get more than bumps and scrapes if he comes off his bike. We let our children do what they love and make choices, and hope they learn to cope.
So far encouraging hobbies and creativity in my children has mostly been fun and interesting. We have had the odd thing that hasn’t worked, but mostly, it’s been a learning experience for me too, to see what they like and what they are good at and what they enjoy. It’s definitely one of the pleasures and positives of parenting.
How do you encourage your kids in their hobbies and activities? Do you share passions with them or are they doing things you never thought they would want to do?