How Creativity Flows in Kids

creativityCreativity comes from . . . . 

I loved watching my kids create things and now I get to watch that same creativity come out in our grandchildren. What fun!

I’m a firm believer that every child needs a sandbox, building blocks, books, and writing paraphernalia at their fingertips. Those are for starters. It also helps if they have other toys items with which to create and play. I used to say that our kids spent as much time building their sets for entertainment than they actually did playing.

My sisters and I were the same. Our sandbox became a farmland with many farms, houses, cornfields, trees, and ponds. We created and designed based on real life situations. Our houses had steps going to the front porch; one house had a spiral staircase designed after our Uncle Omar’s house. We built long lanes from the farmhouse to the main road with curves and hills. The main roads had bridges traversed by our toy tractors and wagons. Our farm vehicles made no noise, so we made the noise for them. It takes more creativity to mimic the putt-putt-putt of a tractor and the shrill noise of a siren than it does to just push a button and have the toy make the noise for you.

Kids don’t need the real McCoy to be creative. In fact, the lack of a real McCoy provides more opportunity for creativity. When we didn’t have “real” bridges, we formed our own in the sandbox. The less we had to work with, the more creative we became. This is true for every child. The problem is that too often children have too many options, so they never learn to improvise.  Our boys didn’t have their own pitch pipe like their parents owned, so they improvised. During family devotions, they took turns “blowing the pitch” using a flat canning lid. While the lid wasn’t as thick as an actual pitch-pipe, it was the exact circumference. Less is  more. Creativity comes from less, rather than more.

Our youngest practicing his “violin”

Fueling creativity

Creative juices flow when they are fueled. Just like any vehicle powered by gasoline, the vehicle cannot run on empty. Too many parents stifle their child’s creativity or plug it. We do this by resisting their desire to play, especially in the house. We also do this by refusing to allow dirt to come into the house. If a child can’t get dirty or sandy outside, he won’t bring it inside. Like a kinked gasoline hose, he will lose his source and his power. A crimped style stifles creativity.

Encouraging our kids to act out or pretend is one of the best ways to help them develop creativity.  Their minds  are filled with costumes, acting, props, and making it fun for everyone. They learn to use what they have and make it work. The less they have, the greater their improvisation! The more they improvise, the greater their creativity!

A child’s creative juices flow when he is encouraged to pretend, play, and reenact.  A child plopped in front of a screen (TV, DVD, or other), entertains his mind without working. Not only is his body inactive, so is his mind. He is fed entertainment instead of providing his own. We expect our kids to learn to feed themselves once they are old enough. We no longer feed them, but hand them a spoon and allow them to feed themselves. It’s the same with children at play. When they are old enough, they need to “feed themselves”, instead of expecting an adult or a screen to do it for them.

The house must be everyone’s domain  

The house is not only the domain of mom or of dad; it is also a place for kids to live and grow. Moms or parents who require an immaculate house at all times are the greatest stiflers of kids. Certainly children must learn to pick up and tidy their own part of the house and the sections they demolished during creative play. They will learn when taught properly. Yet, cleanliness is no standard for creativity. 

Children need activities that use all their senses. That is why sand, blocks, playdough, finger painting, music, building, competitions, and drama are so important; these use all the senses. 

creativityOur kids and grandkids FaceTime me to show what they are doing. A few days ago I got to watch my one of our grandsons as he rolled out play dough, making, he informed me, “pizza and quesadillas”. He is acting out what he observes in real life and gets to participate in with his mom in their home. His creativity is already brimming from the things he is allowed to do in his home, and he’s not even two. I’m so proud of  his mom!

A few days ago another grandson (2 1/2) wanted to FaceTime me so I could watch him sing. He stood on the sofa (shoes not allowed) in his house and played his guitar. Propped against the sofa was the house broom. It’s handle was right in front of his mouth. With guitar and “mic”, he performed for me. You bet your bottom dollar I applauded! He doesn’t have a toy mic, so he improvised and formed his own. His mother allowed him to use the broom for his mic. This encourages creativity!

Let home be the heart of your child’s world

When a child is allowed to celebrate and create, his creative juices flow. When he is encouraged to find ways to entertain himself, he will not find life boring. Home should be a fun place to be, not a place that is nothing but rules and boundaries. He can learn to clean up his mess, but do allow him to make the mess!

Granted, there’s a time and a place for everything. Your children can learn when and where is a good time; just make sure they have good places and plenty of time. That’s how creativity flows in kids.

Pinterest Creativity




They are Grown – and now They’ve Flown


Now they have flown.

Raising kids is busy, full, and hard. Then, in what seems like just a moment, there is a burst of flight and they are out of sight. They’ve left the nest – flown away to build their own world.

How does it happen so quickly when time moves so slowly during difficult days? I don’t know; I only know it does.

Suddenly our nest is empty. They are building their own. Here we are.

How did we get from there to here?! How did the table that was filled with three kids down each side so quickly become empty with only two?

Our offspring have roots, and they have wings. Yes, here we are.

They are grown. They have flown.


We built the nest. They arrived, one by one.
Our lair was bulging till all was said and done.
Always room at the table and room in our hearts
The years rolled on by. Oh, where to start?!
                   . . . and now they’re grown

We grew them and loved them, pushed them out of our nest,
Preparing for life and giving it our best.
With roots for their faith and wings for their feet
Watching them grow up was bitter – and sweet.
                                   . . . and they’re grown


We laughed and we quibbled and wondered aloud
How to truly know what was best for our crowd.
We floundered and faltered; days were short, nights were long
As our nest gave them roots and they knew they belonged.
                                            . . . now they’re grown

In summer and winter, springtime, and rain,
Harvest aplenty and memories gained.
The years have kept rolling; they’re still part of our fold.
Still, His faithfulness continues as we’re growing old.
                                     . . . and they’ve flown.


The cycle continues; yet surely they know
That our love won’t diminish wherever they go.
Like fragrance of incense and light from a flame
We keep praying out blessings again and again
                            . . . cause they’ve flown

In shadow and sunshine, in blessing and rain
Our nest is a reminder of all we have gained;
Though gone from our shelter; they still are our own.
And our nest eagerly waits for their journeys back home.
                           . . . they have flown

Pinterest grown and flown

Photo attribution goes to


When Parents are Failing – Guest Post

parents failing

Guest Post by Rosina Schmucker 

This post was first published on Rosina’s blog on September 2, 2017. You can follow her blog, Arabahrejoice, here:

When Parents are Failing –

What do you do when you think your friends are failing at parenting?

Of course, it’s easy to have all the answers about parenting before you’ve tried it out yourself. But suppose you have parented several children already, and what you see in other people makes you shake your head in despair?

Let me tell you a little secret. Having parented successfully does not make you an expert. The end.

Here’s why. You can follow basic guidelines for providing for your children’s needs, but it is impossible for one person to experience every possible parenting scenario. Children are all very different, and beyond that, some children are born with needs that go far beyond what you can put in the “different but normal” range.

However, the pressure to produce well-behaved, smart, socially-adept, flexible kids is high, and steadily increasing with the influx of media-sharing and sermon-sharing about how to raise the best kids possible.

While parents do need to learn all they can about how to raise their children, and it’s important to offer whatever resources they desire, I think many people have forgotten the simple and powerful practice of sitting beside others.

Let me explain from my own experience. My first child was unusual from the start. Although he was incredibly responsive and sweet at home, many times when we took him out he cried and cried.

I spent Sundays in the nursery trying to soothe a crying baby while the other ladies discussed the finer points of doctrine in Sunday school. After church I would ask Will what the sermon was about, because I usually missed most of it.

When we went to a friend’s house for a meal, the rest of the group laughed and chattered over their pizza while I sat in the bedroom with a crying baby, tears rolling down my own cheeks.

People noticed my cute baby, and they also noticed that something was wrong, but they could not see how fiercely I loved him and how hard I tried to take care of him. They could not see how alone I was.

Before communion at our church, we had a special service in which each of us had to meet with one of the preachers to talk about how our spiritual life was going. Our son was still a baby when Will and I unsuspectingly sat down and shared about our lives.

“I have a concern,” the preacher said. “Your son is too noisy in church, and I feel you perhaps are not disciplining him appropriately.” The rest of what he said was a blur, and although I’m sure he meant to be kind, I felt my cheeks burning in shame. How could we possibly begin to explain what we didn’t yet understand ourselves? That we knew there was something wrong, but we were pretty sure it wasn’t a discipline problem?

I’m not a person given to public displays of emotion, but I slipped to the coat rack in the back of the church foyer and burst into tears. Will and I collected our baby and quietly left for home.

Later we learned that our son was on the autism spectrum and had, among other issues, extremely sensitive hearing. Church services, especially the music, were physically painful for him, and that was why he cried. But we didn’t know this at the time, and going places became miserable.

On one hand, some people were openly critical. They sat over us in judgment about all the wrong ways we were parenting. We heard sermons and topics and group discussions on how to properly raise children, with little sympathy for anyone with unique challenges.

Then there were also people who politely sat outThey were too kind to judge, so they carefully looked the other way when our son misbehaved. They maintained cheerful talk even when things were going badly, and pretended that we were fine. They did not offer judgment, but they did not either give us the support we truly needed.

We needed someone to sit beside us in the difficult place. And one Sunday, this happened.

I was in the nursery (again) with a crying baby (again). By this time, I had mostly resigned myself to spending my Sundays this way. I knew my baby was tired, and if he could just fall asleep, I might be able to get a little out of church. But he was overstimulated and could not fall asleep, so he wept.

Partway through the sermon, the nursery door opened, and a youth girl slipped in. She smiled and asked kindly, “Do you need me to hold your baby?” I could feel the genuine sympathy and care flow from her heart and wrap like a mantle around me and my baby. I knew my child wouldn’t do well with a stranger holding him, so I told her that I just needed to hold him until he fell asleep.

But she didn’t leave.  She settled into a rocking chair beside me, and talked to me in her sweet way. Within a few minutes, in the glow of her gentle presence, my son relaxed and fell asleep.

Several years went by, as Will and I loved and delighted in our child and did our best to take care of him. He was funny and frightfully clever–at five years old he could crack a side-splitting joke and accurately describe in great detail how a car motor works. But some things were so different for him, and the judgment never stopped coming. It got to the place where I felt skittish every time I saw a preacher drive in the lane, or heard a discussion on child training. I didn’t enjoy going out in public. And I felt incredibly alone.

I remember lying on my bed one Sunday afternoon, sobbing into my pillow and pleading God to send someone to come talk to me and encourage me in my parenting journey. I was too battered to reach out for help myself. “Send someone to talk to me!” I cried. But nobody came.

As our child got older, his emotional problems and developmental delays worsened. Then one evening we went to a big auction designated to raise funds for Haiti. The event consisted of lots of high-sugar foods, noise, excitement, people, and kids tearing around at breakneck speed. Our son’s motor amped up and up, until it was time to leave. Then his fuse blew, and he unleashed the worst tantrum I had ever seen.

As our son thrashed and raged on the floor, Will tried his best to gain control of him while a large circle of shocked onlookers stared in silence. I knew that a mental health therapist (who was also a family friend) was in the crowd, so I dashed off to him and asked him for help.

He came immediately, and went right to Will’s side. Together they were able to calm down our son enough to take him outside into the quiet darkness. The therapist sat with Will for a long time, talking with him and our son, offering hope and companionship.

As we drove home, Will and I both wanted to cry, because while everyone else either looked on in horror or looked away in polite denial, this man sat beside us and extended grace. Just as the young girl had that Sunday in the nursery, this therapist’s presence channeled the healing love of Jesus into our breaking hearts.

That is why I say that when you see your friends struggling with parenting, they don’t need you to sit over them in judgment. Chances are, anyway, that they are not failing as much as it appears. Likely they are facing challenges that require a unique set of skills. These parents are probably more resilient and courageous than you can imagine, and are crying to Jesus daily for wisdom. When you judge their parenting, you are essentially saying that you do not believe in who they are. You are saying that they are not worthy of raising their children.

Neither do they need you to sit out and ignore them. Ignoring sends the message that you are uncomfortable and unwilling to engage in the messy parts of their lives. It tells them that they are not worth noticing, not worth the effort to support. Ignoring says that you don’t care.

Struggling parents need their friends to willingly go to the center of their pain and sit beside them.

No pat answers, no disengaging, just sitting and holding their souls in the love of Jesus. This sitting-beside is what paves the road to redemption.

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

I Corinthians 12:26 (ESV)



How have other people “sat beside” you during hard seasons of your life?

Why I Never Said, “This hurts me more than it hurts you!” to my Kids

when . . . then

hurts me more than it hurts you

I only remember one time when my mother said to me, prior to a spanking, “This hurts me more than it hurts you.”

Even though there were tears in her eyes, it made me angry.  I just didn’t get it that day.

I understand that the emotional pain a parent experiences when a child disobeys is greater than what any child can feel in a physical punishment. I’ve felt that as a parent myself. Yet a child cannot equate physical pain with emotional pain, especially at the time of a spanking, so why try to explain something to him that we know he can’t grasp?

I don’t remember how old I was, but I can take you to the place in the bathroom where my mother said those words to me, and I vowed then that I would never, ever say those words to my kids. (There were a lot of other things I vowed never to do to my kids that I certainly reneged on, but this was not one of them!)

hurts me more than it hurts you

As a child, I did not understand how she could experience physical pain from administering the punishment. That’s what I remember. Therefore, I felt betrayed and belittled. I know this was not my mother’s intent!  I know she wanted me to understand that disciplining a child was not a fun thing for her to do, and that it wasn’t easy. I knew that she wasn’t flying off the handle, and her discipline was not in anger or revenge. She honestly wanted me to learn and understand that what I had done was wrong, and there were consequences.

There were tears in Mama’s eyes that day, and I felt more guilt from her tears than from the actual spanking. I knew my wrongdoing brought pain enough to bring tears and she was frustrated. Yet I couldn’t connect her emotional pain to my physical pain. Of course, I understand that completely now. I understand why she said that to me, because it really was true for her. At my age, I just couldn’t get it .

What made more of an impression on me was the tears in my mother’s eyes. It’s the only time I remember her crying when she administered a discipline. She didn’t need to tell me; she simply showed me. That’s the part that connected with me. She experienced deep sorrow and, I am sure, she wondered how she was going to accomplish raising us.

No matter how we choose to discipline our children when they are wrong, we need to be able to help them connect the dots. If it doesn’t make sense, they won’t learn and understand what they’ve done is wrong from the experience of discipline or punishment. It might make sense to us, but that doesn’t help them learn if they don’t get it. Oh sure, they might know never to try that again because it’s not worth the consequence, but they need to be able to connect the dots between actions and consequences.

Parenting can be tough. Figuring out the moods and minds of our children can be hard. Finding what works for each individual child takes some sleuthing. Sometimes what works for one child doesn’t work for another.

When we make mistakes or could do things better, we learn. God forgives.  Our children forgive.

The best part is that He gives us wisdom if we but ask. Sometimes we can receive wisdom from other parents or from older folks who’ve been that path years before.  There are books we can read; there are parenting groups we can join.  Most important of all, we should seek help and wisdom from God. If we truly ask for wisdom and if we truly listen, He will give us ideas and help us understand our children.

He will give us the best words to say and the best actions to take if we are willing to ask and then are willing to  listen.

Let’s not be afraid to ask!

hurts me more than it hurts you


[On spanking a child: remember that a genuine spanking is not child abuse, nor is it something that is done in anger or to vent frustration; it is part of teaching and training a child. Scripture talks about what happens when a parent spares the rod of discipline.  As a foster parent, there are many times I’ve wished I could apply some wisdom to the seat of someone’s understanding because the behavior could have been squelched in shorter order than it took to mete out consequences for weeks at a time. At the same time, there are plenty of ideas out there for discipline if you are opposed to biblical spanking. You can read some of our ideas in the post No More Spankings? 3 Alternatives here.]


Tears – What Not to Do When Somebody’s Kid is Crying Buckets

encouraging moms

The photo of my great niece with crocodile tears on her face sparked a discussion on Facebook. Mom posted a photo of her two-year-old crying because she was told to take her red boots off before church.

The parents allow her to wear her boots anywhere, except to church. She can wear them in the house and out of the house. She can wear them to bed and to town. She just can’t wear them to church because she wears her “church shoes” to church.

Their reason for this restriction is to teach her that church and worshiping God is special. To show reverence to God, they choose to have their princess dress in what they feel is appropriate. (You’re entitled to your opinion; at the same time, it’s their child and they are entitled to theirs just as well.)

You should have seen the outcry from other folks!

  • “Let her wear her boots!”
  • “If I could go back [in parenting], I’d let her wear her boots.”
  • “It doesn’t hurt if she wears her red boots to church.” [Nor, I would like to add, does it hurt if she doesn’t wear them to church. She will survive.]

You know what brought the outcry? The little girl’s tears.

She went from this – (“aren’t I pretty, Mommy?!”)

to this.  (“But I want to wear my boots to church!”)


If she had been happy about wearing church shoes, the Facebook friends probably wouldn’t have said a word.

But those tears. Oh, how those tears won over the masses of moms who thought the child really, truly, must have her way. If she wants to wear her boots, then she just must be allowed to do so. Those masses of moms are the ones who would have seen her tears and asked upon her arrival to church, “What’s the matter, darling?”

What is it about being a mom that makes us want to feel sorry for kids when we see them cry?  You know – the time you walk into a store and see a child in a cart with mom. The child has those monstrous tears sliding down her doleful cheeks, and instantly, we assume something is just plain wrong.

What is it about a child’s tears that makes us think she has been wronged?

What is it about us that makes us ask, “What’s the matter, honey?” instead of just ignoring the tears? What is it about us that makes us assume she has been wronged instead of assuming that perhaps the child needs to learn she can’t always have her way?

Perhaps it’s time to consider that maybe the child is unhappy because he isn’t allowed to do something he wants to do. Maybe he was just reprimanded by an adult for misbehavior. Perhaps he didn’t get to wear his favorite shirt because it was already dirty. Maybe he wanted to sit by the window in the van and another sibling got there first. Perhaps he’s tired from getting to bed too late the evening before. Maybe he’s sick. Perhaps he didn’t get to have his way and he’s hoping the tears will change someone’s mind.

So we stoop down and ask, “What’s wrong, honey?” putting the adult instantly in the camp of mean parent.

Maybe instead we should just ignore the tears.

Or, maybe we should say something like, “It looks like you forgot your smile this morning,” or “I wonder if you know how to turn that frown upside down?”

When we don’t coddle kids, when we don’t feel sorry for them, when we don’t insinuate that mom or dad is just too harsh, their tears will dry up much quicker than when we fan the flame. We’ve watched a child fall down and get a scrape on the knee. Dad picks the kid up and he’s okay. Then mom shows up, and the tears start. There’s a reason: the child know where he will get sympathy.

Seriously, we can help moms with their kids by not assuming the child has been wronged just because we see some tears. We can help and encourage moms by not feeling sorry for a child unless we truly know what has happened. We can also help a mom by not making her feel guilty for not giving in just because her child has tears.

How else will a child learn that the world does not revolve around his whims, and that pouting is not the correct way to negotiate?

How will a child learn that  “No”  means “No”, unless we start teaching him when he’s young?

Our prisons are full of people who have not learned to listen to the word “No.” Our schools  have to expel students because they’ve never learned that “no” means No.

Many folks weren’t taught that “No” still means “No” even though life isn’t fair. They’ve not learned that we  get to choose our response but we don’t, however, always get to choose the consequences. Our children need to learn that principle, and we do them a disservice when we undermine the authority of the parents who are teaching them this verity of life.

How else will he learn to handle reprimands from an employer or teacher unless he learns to listen and correct his ways when he’s a child? How will he learn to follow rules and orders if he’s never made to listen to rules and order at home?  How will he learn to listen to the voice of God in his life if he’s never had to give up  his “it’s about me” mentality as a child? If all a child has to do is cry to get his way, how will he make it as an adult when tears won’t work the magic?

There’s so much talk these days about how kids feel entitled. Could it be that  we – the adults in their lives – are teaching them to  expect to be entitled by feeling sorry for them when they pout or shed tears? Could it be that the adults are partly to blame?

Maybe it’s time we allow parents to be the parents instead of feeling sorry for a child who needs to stop crying because he didn’t get his way. I sometimes wonder what would  happen if, instead of asking, “What’s the matter?”  we’d smile at a child and say, “Oh, it looks like your smile has turned upside down today!”

pinterest tears