Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"WHAT IS A FAMILY? The Birthplace of Creativity"

"The environment in a family should be conducive to the commencement of natural creativity, as natural as breathing, eating, and sleeping. A balanced, creative person can come forth, developing and branching out in a wide number of areas, if some amounts of imagination and care are used. The first requirement is dignity of attitude toward the family. This dignity involves accepting the seriousness and excitement of having your own home be a very specific creativity centre." WHAT IS A FAMILY? Edith Schaeffer. p58.
Unfortunately since the time of writing this book, it has become common that parents now work at, even labour at getting their children to eat and sleep. Thankfully breathing is still something that children do "naturally", spontaneously and instinctively, so Edith uses this example to send us a message to relax, because developing your child's creativity is to be as innate as breathing.
She goes on to explain 2 things ~
1. Creativity Happens in an Atmosphere of Trust.
Your child, and all members of your family will be creatively inspired if there is "two-way communication, which involves listening as well as talking, and taking an interest in the other person's thoughts and ideas." This awareness encourages the timid, small beginnings of an adult as well as a child.
For both young and old, creative ideas often don't work out. A  "shift in direction" or diversion is needed to prevent the whole creative process being killed. It can be as simple as a good cup of tea under an autumn tree, or a picnic morning tea at the beach. The anxious pressure of the failure needs to be replaced with a time of happiness in a trusted atmosphere.
"Soon a new idea will come tumbling out from the child's lips, if he or she knows the failure won't be rubbed in or laughed about. 
An atmosphere of trust brings forth a sharing of ideas and an attempt to make things, with an expectation that the most wonderful thing is just about to come forth. This atmosphere comes if the basic attitude is one which takes mistakes and fresh attempts as quite expected." p60.
"Creativity needs the availability of reaching the attention of a sympathetic friend at just the right moment.... The spark must meet another spark, or the fire dies out and dark discouragement can flood in." p61,62.
So availability is essential for a "spark" to be shared. A listening ear. Even a university student troubled with his essay, or the shy but excited song writer, needs the supportive listening ear in an atmosphere of trust.
2. Creativity Happens When There is an Example of Adult Creativity Within the Family.
Father, mother, all members of the family are to be doing something creative. The development of creativity is not to be focused on children alone. Everyone eats, everyone sleeps, everyone breathes, so everyone in the family does creative things.
My husband works to improve his skill playing the piano, my mother worked at creating beautiful patchwork quilts, my first mother-in-law worked at lace making and gold thread embroidery, my second mother-in-law cooked, knitted and made beautiful tapestries, my father built rock steps and walls. They all did their thing around me, inspiring me to have a go at what intrigued me. Creativity is infectious and children quickly find their own creative ideas to work at.
"Simple gestures of thoughtfulness bring forth natural and spontaneous creative acts on the part of little human beings growing  up where these things are a part of everyday life - the norm." p63.
Creativity being everyday, normal, simple and used to express love, concern, reminding others in the family that they are thought about. 
Not reducing creativity to be done in "the perfectly protected place for each individual's work." It being "done with each other as well as for each other." p65.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Well where do you start if there is no creative pursuits happening in your family? Have a look around for a person, a relative, a family who is creative and go watch them. Spend time in the company of creative people and wait for creative ideas to stir, remembering that creativity is not something that is taught or engineered, it is something that comes from within each person and is to be as natural as breathing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

"WHAT IS A FAMILY? : A Changing Life Mobile"

                                    " mobile   n.   Art.  A delicately balanced construction or sculpture of a type developed by Alexander Calder since 1930, usually with movable parts, which can be set in motion by currents of air or mechanically propelled."   Webster's New International Dictionary, published 1954.
"In so many ways a family is a mobile - an artwork that takes years, even generations, to produce, but which is never finished. The artwork of this mobile called 'family' continues, and imagination, creativity, originality, talent, concern, love, compassion, excitement, determination, and time produce a diversity which is a challenge to any intelligent human being who has been given understanding of how to begin in the studio of life itself." WHAT IS A FAMILY? Edith Schaeffer p.18.
What an accurate picture, of a family being a life mobile, always changing in endless ways, which as Edith Schaeffer acknowledges, is a huge challenge for any parent to have the capacity to work with!
"A mobile is a moving, changing collection of objects constantly in motion,... Every individual is growing, changing, developing, or declining - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and psychologically. No two years, no two months, or no two days is there the exact same blend or mix within the family, as each individual person is changing. If people are developing in a variety of creative areas, coming to deeper understanding spiritually, adding a great deal of knowledge in one area or another, living through stimulating discoveries of fresh ideas or skills - they are affecting each other positively. ... What is a family? A family is a mobile. A family is an art form. A family is an exciting art career, because an art form needs work." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.18-19.
Edith uses the mobile analogy to describe the unique and temporary position each family is in right now. We will never again have the combination of situations that are happening today in our family. Your family is not static, it is either developing positively or declining, and parents are contributors to which direction their family goes. 
An art form, like the family, requires time spend on it for it to develop in positive ways. Because you created your family, it is your time that it needs. Your family needs you to make the choice to make it your "exciting art career".
"The universe is a spoiled universe, and people have been really made 'abnormal' by sin. There is no possible way of having good relationships, nor of having a whole grouping of good relationships in the framework of a family, if there is no one who understands that it takes time, patience, hard times, unselfish work, sacrifice of a variety of sorts, and planning on the part of someone to insure memories of beauty sprinkled all through the difficulties. Someone has to feel the wonder and dignity of having the mobile of the family be the artwork which that person is interested in seeing develop." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.29.
Someone - it can only be parents who take on that sort of  responsibility - to take time, be patient, work hard and unselfishly, and sacrifice, "to insure memories of beauty (are) sprinkled all through the difficulties" of life.
"Mobiles - smashed, torn, sagging, all balance gone, the delicate interplay finished - turned into something too ugly to keep around, too painful to see. Broken marriages, smashed homes, splintered relationships, shattered families, these have become the norm in this twentieth century (and twenty-first). No generation to follow a generation in the beauty of balance threaded together like the mobile! Senseless breaking up of priceless, living, balanced beauty over - so often - nothing." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.31.
Edith Shaeffer goes on to say that all families which are heading in  positive directions, have also been "in danger of being broken." Being affected by anger, pride, frustration, impatience, being misunderstood..., is common to every human relationship "for at least minutes, if not hours or days." 
She goes on to say that there is a different outcome only where a deep, strong understanding exists of the importance of family continuity. 
This is why bringing up a family is such a challenge, requiring strength, understanding and generations of work.
"There is a beauty and continuity which can never be had unless someone in the family has the certainty that the whole art form is more important than one incident, or even a string of incidents. To smash a Ming vase which is absolutely irreplaceable - just to satisfy a violent feeling of wanting to be emphatic in making a statement, when there is a five-and-ten-cent-store plate which could be smashed just as well to suit the need - is a minimal picture of what it is to smash the living artwork of a family, and then to spend the rest of one's life paying for it and seeing other people pay for it, too. Wasted lives." WHAT IS A FAMILY? p.32.
Your family is delicate, precious as the threads in the art mobile.
Where are you heading your family? Are you influencing your family  in positive ways? If not, the outcome is clear. 
A few guidelines are suggested above, but if you are struggling and would like help and encouragement, feel free to contact me through my website - www.awaytoparent.com. I would be happy to meet with you to help.