It does not matter if I am chatting with a creative teen, a student of mine, or a DIY home improvement enthusiast — being an ally results in a lifestyle of coherence. As DIY architect providing architectural services online, I am supporting those who are combatting self-doubt.
Having grown up feeling odd and out of place, as a mother, I made a conscious choice to ensure that a creative teen in my nest enthusiastically embraces her individuality.
This post is the 10th (and the last) in the series about my daughters, and I am sure that you’ve already heard me say that my children helped heal the scars of my own childhood. I started with a story of a transitional object, talked about creating our dream home, and emphasized the importance of validating their creative journey. The overarching theme in all of them has been respect. A creative teen, just like a tiny baby, deserves your utmost respect and admiration.
Respect your creative teen’s point of view
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work to hone my skills as a parent. For instance, I took “Public Speaking 101” at a community college so that I can express myself better. Once, I decided to practice a speech in front of my creative teen Nastasya. It was pretty scary, but worth it. I wanted to demonstrate my utmost respect for her opinion. Her feedback was very constructive. She told me about my posture, use of flash cards, eye contact. I was amazed. She also paid attention to the content. She said: “You invented this stuff, present it with confidence.”
Regardless of age, self-esteem is vital. “Well-behaved women rarely make history” is one of Nastya’s favorite quotes from elementary school. Here is a poem of hers I found recently; there is no date on it:
Who Are You?
Yet you rush
But you hush
Still you stand
I am alone
Then you reach out your hand
But you are blind
You don’t think
Though you still have a mind
Later you plug your ears
You are happy
Then you burst into tears
You are brave
But you have many fears
You have many different sides to control
Are you one or many people?
It must’ve been a school assignment — just below, she wrote: “I like this poem because I was able to think of opposite things for each line but still have the lines rhyme. I am happy with myself for thinking of such good rhyming words. This poem is not meant to be sad, it just makes you think.”
I had a chance to help my creative teen Mia rehearse for her portfolio review with an admissions committee member from Pratt Institute, her top choice art school. We had a mock presentation at home the night before. Mia laid out all of her pieces and explained their significance. One of them was a painting titled “Madonna and Child” where Madonna is depicted as a Hispanic nanny, holding a Caucasian baby.
Her assortment included a porcelain/wire sculpture inspired by modern architecture and Russian teapots, something I am passionate about. The body of work put together — from a commentary on how children are raised by hired help in our society to her reaction towards animal testing —presented vividly what influenced and shaped Mia’s personality. I can’t say that over the years I have agreed with everything Mia was into. But, I take pride in having always respected her effort. I think that’s the main role of the parent.
Mia practiced delineating reasons for choosing Pratt Institute in particular. Both Nastasya and I gave Mia our comments and verbalized our reactions. This creative teen was able to take our criticism constructively. We went over a few points more than once to get them defined and cleaned up.
I drove her to the appointment in order to put her at ease and to provide further support; we practiced some more in the car and she really nailed her narrative. As a result, Mia was able to back up her work with an eloquent as well as well-thought-out presentation. Thus, her interview was informative — she was prepared enough to be spontaneous and receptive. I was so proud of her! She made a huge effort.
Presently a fashion designer, at age four Mia was drawing elaborate, superbly colorful costumes with buttons, collars, and fringes. Even then her girls were accessorized with earrings, ribbons, necklaces, and hats. In the album of her early artwork there are some really unexpected three-dimensional details, like a taped cotton ball, representing a body of a snowman. A drawing of a bird has actual feathers glued to it. There is a birthday card for her goldfish Patrick.
After college, Mia ended up staying in New York. Last night on the phone she said: “You made me and Nastya,” referring to giving birth. I read a lot more into that. It is my ultimate pleasure to claim responsibility for raising two infinitely creative human beings mainly by respecting their point of view.
Please check out my recent e-how-to book DIY Like a Hummingbird: 10 Steps to Naturally Well-designed Kids’ Spaces. It builds a case for creating an environment that caters to the child’s innate sophistication.