Have you ever made something that you thought was truly wonderful but no one else appreciated? A cake, a painting, a flower arrangement? They failed to tste the mint, or to see the particular hue of the color. Did they make a sarcastic comment? Or was it slightly encouraging but you knew they didn’t appreciate your creation or think it was any good?
This happens to all of us. It feels horrible and demoralizing. One minute you are on an artistic or creative high and the next you are as low as you can go. What do they know? Beauty, is after all, in the eye of the beholder. Everyone’s taste is different. Why should anyone else’s opinion matter or affect us so badly?
As adults, hopefully we are able to internalize this feedback, judge it for what it is and where it came from, understand that it doesn’t define us, and move on. Unfortunately, though this is often a struggle for most of us. When we impose this kind of judgement on children, we risk shutting them down. We stifle their creativity and teach them that displaying artistic talents makes them vulnerable to criticism and hurt. What we think might be constructive criticism, might be counterproductive and stifle creativity
We have to be careful and watch what we say. Stop for a minute and consider how you, as adult, might respond to what you’re about to say. Is there a kinder, less intrusive way to deliver that message? Is it perhaps better to say nothing at all? The last thing any of us want to do is to shut down creative thought process or stifle ingenuity. The child who’s art you don’t appreciate may one day grow up to change the world. She might develop a cure for cancer or find a way to feed all the starving children on our planet. Let’s encourage these thought processes, celebrate their artistic attempts, and nurture creativity……knowing that one day the world can be a better place for all of it’s inhabitants.
Sue Penn, the Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, is known for being an innovative and creative educator. Sue sits on the Board of Directors for JFFSOC and Someone Cares.