For many years I have worked with parents on how creating art can be used to increase positive interactions with their child. Art clearly allows a parent to implement P.A.C.E with their child. I was inspired by the work of Kellie Diguangco on her blog “the ricebabies”. She combines her passion for art with her creativity and her love for her children. I asked her some questions to help parents understand more fully how art can be used to facilitate P.A.C.E. She also provided some great information on how she uses art to manage the demands of parenthood. Look below for more information on art, attachment, and parenting self care.
How has art helped create a bond between you and your children?
Art helps our family connect in many ways. It can be a relaxing process after a long week, it’s a way we communicate our newest likes and interests, and it’s always a way to instill confidence and praise.
How does being creative help you cope with the demands of being a parent?
Being a parent to three small little ones is demanding, but since art is so common in our home, it can help us in many ways. If I need to get laundry started, I can give my two year old a blank paper and some water colors. If my kids are fighting, I can sit them down and give them an art project, soon they are bonding. The process of the art (painting and drawing or clay) brings out the creative mind, which takes away from the aggression, fatigue, or boredom they may have been feeling. It is also a great money saver. When you encourage creativity and imagination, even a simple pen and paper can be fun.
As a parent do you find time do make your own art? If so, are there certain projects you find that help you release the stress of being a parent?
At night when my children are sleeping, I sew and embroider, I love making things with my hands. I also include my children in my art. If there is some form of art or project I want to try, but I can’t seem to find the time on my own, I will just include them.
I believe that being a parent can be extra challenging because we view our childhood through a new lens. Some things our parents did are things we want to do with our children and some techniques we promise ourselves never to repeat. Can you talk about how doing art helps you identify your goals as a parent and stay focused on giving your children what you think is best?
Art keeps me close to my kids in so many ways. I am always looking for inspiration through books, art, movies, cooking, anywhere I can find it. I think its a great way for us to bond. I get to see what they think and feel through their art. I keep focused on what I hope is best for them by working to achieve inspiration that will help us stay close and happy. Never underestimate art as a tool to teach manners, the alphabet, feelings, sharing, healthy eating, and many important life lessons.
Does art help you build awareness of the difficulties of being a parent? The enjoyments?
Art helps you build patience. You have to be ready for the mess, or that the project you planned didn’t turn out the way you wanted, or that they just weren’t into it. When they love you, and you love them, it’s about laughs and helping and bonding.
Does art help you express some of the emotion that you experience as a parent, both negative and positive?
I admit, my art is all happy. Whatever I am making has a positive vibe, look, and feel to it. I think perhaps it’s because I like to focus on the positive and, even after a bad day, if I make something happy, I feel better.
Some parents have not done art in many years and feel like they cannot because they are not creative. Is there any advice you could give a parent in this situation?
Everyone is creative, you just have to bring it out. When you choose dinner for your family, that’s making a creative decision. When you pick out your clothes, you are making a creative decision. Most people just overlook the creativity they use daily and over think creativity when the term art is applied.
Are there some easy projects you could recommend to people who feel uncomfortable making art with their children?
One project I really like to do is self portrait. All you need is paper and something to draw with. I encourage looking in the mirror when drawing. You can talk about where things are located on the face, eyes, nose etc. This one is good because you can watch their skills develop if you do one every couple of months, but you also get a chance to see how they see themselves. Do they have black hair but use the color blond? Why do the wish they had blond hair? It can be a good self-confidence builder to talk to them about their portraits. The other project I encourage is a water color. The processes is relaxing as it has to do with water and the colors mix beautifully in abstract forms. I find adults can enjoy this process a lot too.
How do you participate when the kids are making art?
When my kids are making art, I may or may not participate. If they ask to draw or paint I just give them the supplies and they do what they want. There are times when they ask for help or when we see something that inspires us and we decide to make it together as a family project. I am always hands-on, but I let them make all the decisions. I never judge their art or try to get them to make it “pretty.” It’s all about the process at our house, not the end result.
Do you identify as an artist?
I have graduated to a place where I am totally comfortable saying I am an artist. I am, in all that I do, an artist. I enjoy my job as a mom, an artists, and instructor. In all the roles I play, artist is at the base of it all.
Are there parts of yourself as an artist that are in direct conflict with your role as a parent and how do you negotiate that?
There are times when I have so many ideas and I just want to sit and create, but I have to pick what is most important. My role as a mother is what I choose as most important to me, and for my family. I have a long list of things I want to create and it may take many years to achieve them, but I’ll get to them. My kids are worth the hold.