Previously we explored the idea of family life and parenting as being inherently creative, yet many of us may not see ourselves in this way, as we associate ‘creativity’ with the traditional sense of the arts. Yet when we take some time to look at everything we do as mothers and fathers, we begin to see that we are constantly creating our family life and culture. For many of us, this creativity began in pregnancy as we caressed our expanding belly and imagined what our baby would be like and the many things we would share together.
Whenever we invest time, energy and thought into our children and family, we are creating our family culture. We may not see this so much in our own family, as it is so much a part of who we are, yet when we take some time to reflect, things become clearer. Our family culture is the way we talk and connect with our children and partners, the health and food choices we make, the way we perceive and deal with our children’s behaviour, our relationships, activities, conversations and ways of being, speaking and simply spending our time.
We are creating and investing in our family culture as we think about how things are going, when we feel anxiety deep in our belly when we can feel something isn’t right with our kids and we take the time to work it out and research our way forward. As we read, talk and inform ourselves, we grow clearer in our family culture. As a parent, perhaps more so than any other time of life, we are asked to make decisions, become clearer on our values and live our life according to these values.
And it is our values, that which ultimately feels important to us from within, from which we begin to create our family culture. And when we think of it in this way, we can see how parenting is one long exercise in manifestation….we feel, deeply, love, connection and vision for our children, and then we set about bringing this love to life through our parenting. Our values speak to us of how we should care for our babies; how we treat and handle them as infants, how we respond to their cries and the influences we seek to cultivate or limit in their lives.
As our children grow, so too does our family culture develop. We are tested in new ways and faced with new experiences, all of which call to us to reflect, to consider and to question. New experiences call to us to check in with ourselves, to reflect, to listen to our children and our inner selves and review how things are going. Our children’s behaviour changes with the many ages and stages and can bring challenges we have never before experienced. Here our creativity is found in our solutions, perceptions and responses. We explore our responses to our children’s emotions, to boundaries and influences. We constantly create new ways of being, responding and living in response both to our children’s interests and expressions and our own values, hopes and family vision.
And when these seem to collide, as our children develop their own interests, opinions and decision making which is different to our own, once again we are creating; we are letting go the ways of childhood, and embracing the new directions our children are creating for themselves. We are reminded, sometimes uncomfortably so, that our children too, are the creators within their own lives, and their choices, interests and visions may seem worlds away from the earlier influences we have nurtured and the family culture in which we have invested and created. Once again we find ourselves at a cross roads… are we to reinforce the decisions of the family culture we have established, or are we to give them the space they need to explore and express themselves? Of course each situation is different and calls for reflection, connection and time taken to find the way forward. Yet the point is, we are constantly creating; yet as our children grow, rather than creating gentle rhythms which nurture bonding and child-led play, rather we may find ourselves creating new relationships as our children grow beyond the culture we have created and begin to expand and extend out into the world. We may even feel that they are rejecting the family culture we have created and nurtured for so many years as they branch out into new directions. Yet still we are creating, holding space, connecting, creating, maintaining and re-kindling the threads of connection, communication and relationship which run between us.
Family life is never static, for always things are moving forward, change brings new situations and new questions and as mothers and fathers, we simply take the time to engage, connect, reflect, both with our children, one another and our inner values, and decide upon how and where we shall focus our creative energy.
Take some time to reflect upon the family culture you have created…The values you live by and the ways you do things most of the time are the messages of family our children hold within. Rather than the expectation to always behave in a certain way, to be perfect, instead look at the threads which make up your relationships, activities, rhythms and ways of being within your family most of the time ~ these are the threads of family culture we create as mothers and fathers each and every day. The ways we respond to their emotions, the meals, ways of being and activities we share, the bed times, the small times, the car journeys. All of the investment we share with our children is the energy we put into our family culture.
Reflect, marvel and be proud of the family cultures you have created.
And through the times of struggle and challenge, exhaustion and difficulty, when creativity seems the furthest thing from your experience, let the culture you have created hold you, carry you through, and remind you that you are a creator, a powerful, conscious creator of your family’s culture and you can find a way forward when you listen to the values which nurture you and take small steps to bring these into being each day. Your beautiful children are testimony to your creative potential and capacity.
You can read more of Clare’s writing on her blog at www.beautifulbeginnings.org.uk/blog