Artistic children are such a delight, aren’t they? Their wonderful combination of ideas, unique quirks and abilities can really be an inspiration to those around them.
Our artistic children are truly one of a kind. God created each of us that way! But there is something unique and special about children who are artistically gifted.
They often hit milestones early, surprising their parents and those around them. They’re wonderfully creative and joyful to be around, especially when you’re able to enter their world.
But when we’re being honest with ourselves, children who are gifted in this way can be very difficult to parent, especially when you aren’t artistic yourself. If you didn’t grow up around siblings who were artistic, you might be a little out to sea when it comes to parenting your artistic child.
So how do we parent an artistic child differently? What are their biggest stumbling blocks and are there things we need to consider in their spiritual formation? Definitely! Here are our top 3 things to remember when parenting an artistic child.
One of the best pieces of advice we’ve ever heard about parenting these wonderful children is to learn alongside them. Is your child a budding artist who’s drawing amazing pieces at a young age? Take an art class with them! Learn to draw or paint right alongside them. They will outstrip your abilities and that;s okay. It’s the process rather than the product that counts.
Learning with them gives you a glimpse into their mind, helping you to understand how they see the world around them. It’s also a perfect opportunity to model to them how to bring the Creator into their creations.
When we bring God into our work, it is purifying and sanctifying, turning it into an offering to our Lord rather than an arbitrary task. This applies to everyone, but is especially important to someone who loves to create things themselves.
As your artistic child grows, you may notice a somewhat troubling attribute: perfectionism.
Artists often struggle with perfectionism. Encouragement and praise is absolutely essential for the well-being of every child. But we would argue that it’s even more crucial for your gifted child. They need encouragement to continue their craft.
Artistic people tend to think that their work isn’t good work because they see or hear something else in their minds than what comes out on paper, canvas or in music. So they need you to keep telling them that they’re working hard and that what they’ve created is beautiful, even if it’s not exactly what they had in mind.
This leads us to one of the two virtues we believe are the most important to focus on when it comes to raising our budding artists, musicians and writers: gentleness.
Artists, musicians and writers put so much of themselves into their art, pouring emotion and effort into the final product. And often, this final product seems to fall short to their standards.
Even if you find what they’ve made to be completely breathtaking, they may not. And that’s okay. This is where gentleness comes into play. Learning to be gentle with themselves is key to the emotional well-being of an artistic person.
Because they put so much of their identity into their art, gifted adults can easily fall into self-hatred, depression and sensualism. The seeds of this are sown in childhood.
So encourage your child and praise their efforts, focusing on the process and their decisions rather than on the finished product. Teach them to be gentle with themselves by being gentle with yourself. As we say so often, children learn through modeling, so get in there and create with them!
Often, we hear that a gifted child is wonderful, unique, a child prodigy, even! What wonderful praise for your child!
But don’t let it go to your head.
When you (or your child) is naturally gifted, it can be very easy to forget that those natural abilities are all a gift from the Lord. When we use those gifts without offering them back to the One who gave them to us in the first place, we can easily be caught in the sin of pride.
Pride is something that we need to warn our artistic children about. All people need this warning of course. But when you have natural giftedness, the temptation toward pride is stronger.
The best way to combat it is to offer your giftedness back to God as a gift. This helps us to focus outward on the greater purpose of our giftedness rather than focusing inward.
So encourage your child to pray before beginning to practice their instrument or performing on stage. Model it to them from a young age and encourage them in it as they grow. Ask them how they’re connecting to our Lord in their craft. You might be surprised by the depth of their answers!
All of our children are beautifully and wonderfully made. Artistically gifted children are no different in that regard, but they are different in that we need to be mindful of how we parent them. We might have to homeschool when because they’d be bored at school. They may need more encouragement or coaching than your other children. And that’s okay. Each of our children have unique needs – our gifted children are no different there!
The number one thing we have to remember is that we’re in this for the long haul. When parenting our children, we want to focus on the end goal – who they will be as adults. Everything we do to help them become the Christ-centered adults we hope them to be is absolutely worth it!
If you’d like to hear more on this topic, check out our latest podcast episode here.
You can also watch our podcast episode on this topic on Youtube!