Long before I even started a family, I knew I wanted my kids to be writers — not as a career necessarily, but as a passion. I wanted to instill a love of putting thoughts into words and wanted them to flow as easily and confidently as anything else that comes naturally. This desire grew in part out of my own love of writing. I started my son’s private library before he could walk and filled his days with words — stories, poems, and lots of visits to the local library.
When my son was seven, he wrote his first “official” essay for school, an exposition about why we should buy him a fishing pole. He was motivated and I was so proud of the results (and yes, he got the fishing rod). Around fourth grade, his writing really took off and through his own desire to produce, he filled notebook after notebook of various compositions and poems. He was once again hit with the writing bug at twelve and published his first ebook the following year. These days, we often find him typing away at some story or other, so I guess you might say the experiment was a success — I have raised a writer.
I notice this trend in other families in which parents and child share a similar hobby. In a martial arts class, there is a saying that “the family that kicks together, sticks together,” a reference to the special relationship shared by those parents and siblings who train together. Artists with artistically inclined children, weekend warriors with kids equally adept with hammer and nail; examples abound.
What is special about this unique bond is that the chosen activity comes about almost effortlessly. The parents share their excitement with the child and consciously or not, surround him or her with it. Just as a baby learns to sit or walk or talk through a process of natural, positive encouragement he can grow to share in the family passion. You don’t force your newborn to walk miles to get him bipedal — you know how it’s done. Small, easy steps, with lots of fanfare and support along the way.
Similarly, you don’t need an instruction manual to teach family passion. Strong interest comes from within and grows freely. That being said, you can definitely encourage things along by providing the materials and situations. I doubt I’d have raised a writer if my child had never seen me write or I had criticized his every effort along the way.
If you want your child to share in your love of baseball, by golly, it helps to play the game with them. If you want them to share your love of the garden, you can’t panic over dirt under the nails or mud in the hair. You embrace it and maybe even hug a few worms. In the most ideal scenario, you do it all unconsciously, because it is what you yourself love. A passionately curious artist once told me that her equally passionate and curious sons had been the lucky recipient of her art lessons “since they were babies.” It came as no surprise to me to later discover that her father before her also happened to share the same artistic inclinations. Therein lies the perfect example of a family passion that has been passed on and grown with each generation.
With each season in his life, my son discovers some new interest to delve into. Last fall, it was programming and gaming, this time around, who knows? One thing for sure, these are almost always self-driven and passionately researched.
But the common ground we share for writing is ever present and something I hold dear to my heart. Nothing gets him out of doing dishes faster than his need to put a thought into written words. I may not understand why he has to finish coding a program he is working on before all else, but I definitely understand the fleeting nature of thoughts and how they must be captured immediately.
He may not always want to write and I am fine with that — I encourage him to seek out his own interests. But I still hold on to the hope that in my ripe old age, I might go check the mailbox (or inbox, as the case may be) and find in it something that will surely set my heart a-flutter — a new story he has written, just for me.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.