I’ve already written about doing things “Dad-style” vs. “Mom-style” and encouraging creativity is no different. Here are some things I’ve noticed lately about that…
Crafting, Mom-style: The wife likes to get out paper, ribbon, glue sticks, markers, crayons and, the ultimate in obnoxious craft supplies, GLITTER, and go to town with the girls.
Crafting, Dad-style: Take a few pieces of wood, and hand them to the kids, and see what they can do with them. Occasionally, I’ll allow them to paint them or hammer them together. But under no circumstances are they allowed to use glitter.
Creative activity, Mom-style: The girls love play-doh, and so my wife will get out the little tubs of dough, and then also the bucket of cookie cutters and other accessories. She will sometimes even give them fancy little dishes to play with.
Creative activity, Dad-style: I hate play-doh. It stays on our carpet for weeks afterward. So, I just tell the kids to go outside and play and make up elaborate scenarios with each other. They pretty much have free reign of our yard, and usually end up making quite a few mudpies. At some point, a child will probably get a minor injury, but we have plenty of bandaids, so it all works out.
Inside playtime, Mom-style: My wife will play dolls with the girls, fixing hair, changing outfits. In other words, my worst nightmare.
Inside Playtime, Dad-style: We'll play the XBOX-360 wrestle, tickle, or just build something with blocks, either wooden or lego. We can have a big battle or knock it down, or whatever. (Usually, if we play, they just ask what my name is over and over. That, or invite me over to some party their toys are having.)
Clothing Choice Creativity, Mom-style: My wife lets them choose their own outfits, but will often help them and talk to them about it.
Clothing Choice Creativity, Dad-style: I’ll let them create their own fashion style of whatever clothing items they want to wear for the day. They aren’t allowed to ask me my opinion (I'll say, "Ask mom"), and I don’t butt in with my thoughts about their outfits. Win, win.
This is usually accomplished by a simple command of mine. “Get dressed.” I figure it is the first step in teaching them independence.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.