Thursday, January 10, 2019

#parentingtruth No. 1 - Curiosity is a gift!

parenting truth, curiosity, exploration, childhood

#parenting truth No. 1 - Curiosity is a gift

I suppose I could write this series from start to finish by starting with posts about babies and moving up through those teen years, but really, that would be boring, and I’ve spent a lot of my life purposely trying to not live it in a boring manner. Besides, I don’t want any of you to check out and decide you can just wait three months before you check in again! ;)

Today’s #parentingtruth is about curiosity. It seems to be the one thing all children are born with, and unfortunately, it is one of the first things we unintentionally kill in our children. As parents, it is our job to foster our children's curiosity, even if, and especially when, it is inconvenient. We cannot hope to raise curious, thoughtful children if we never give them time to explore and be curious. We cannot hope for them to grow up and embrace the wild world around them if we never let them leave their chairs.

It truly does not matter where your children receive their education, it matters that they receive one. Education does not save people, only Jesus can do that - but that is a topic for another #parentingtruth post! We chose to homeschool our kids, but it looked nothing like traditional school. There are private and public schools around the world that foster creativity and curiosity, and others that stifle it. These are YOUR children, not wards of the state, or the property of their grandparents. YOU are the parents, and thus, the need to learn about this ever-changing art form of parenting is real!

Our girls have always been curious. Sometimes to their detriment - like when Emily was a baby and kept wanting to explore what was in the kitchen trash can - mostly because it was off limits. When the house got quiet, Kurt and I would look at each other and draw imaginary straws to see who got to go remind her that the trash can was off limits and clean up the mess.

Even after graduating high school, our girls are still curious today. Arlene loves experimenting with natural dyes on her wool yarn. Sometimes she asks other textile-savvy friends for advice, and sometimes she just dumps it all in the pot and takes whatever comes out. I’m always happy when she is curious about a new recipe for cookies or scones, or tweaking an old one. Along the way our girls have had time to follow some of the rabbit trails of their curiosity, and that was always time well spent.

Are you curious? 

I know we have often turned down a side road out in the country just because someone in the car asked “I wonder what’s down that road?” Kurt said he enjoys doing that because it was always something he had to convince his parents to do. 

Curiosity does not wane unless we allow our attention to become so fixated on a particular goal that we miss the life that is going on around us. Don’t stifle your children’s curiosity, and allow your own to flourish as well. A couple years ago I attended a writing conference to learn more about how books are made - as in how they go from an idea to a printed copy on the shelf at the bookstore. While there, they mentioned that one of the breakout sessions had to be cancelled because the speakers had an emergency. But in its place, there would be a session on making books - as in how to put the raw pieces together to bind a simple book. I was SO excited! This was something I had always been curious about, and now I was going to get to experience it. While I learned a lot during that conference, the book making session was my favorite.

So what are your children curious about?

If you have not been the type of parent to embrace rabbit trail following in the past, you may find a little resistance as you learn about this part of the parenting art form. When asked directly, your children may not have anything in mind that they are curious about today. Maybe they’re wondering who you are and where their goal-driven parents went? LOL! But, I encourage you to persevere. Take your children outside, Yes, even in the dead of winter, and let them explore. Take them to the zoo, the art museum, the historical site, the local park, the library. Eventually they will start to regain their natural curiosity. And then, you will see their eyes light up when they make connections between things, places and events all on their own.

Having a child be curious is not a bad thing. All the time I see children who want to see what is beyond that rope, what is under that rotten log, or how many legs a bug has. As parents, you need to drop your natural tendency to say “no, stop, or don’t touch” and start being curious again alongside them. Teach them why there are ropes or fences to protect displays of artifacts, rare art, or building sites. Then teach them how and when to ask for permission if they are unsure if they can touch something they are curious about. Teach them how to whisper in your ear, or touch your arm to ask for help. Teach them how to interact with others from all walks of life. Help them learn, and be willing to learn something new alongside them.

Curiosity might have killed the proverbial cat, but curiosity with guidance can be the very best thing for your children to have.

parenting truth, curiosity, exploration, childhood

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