Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cool Parents Teach Their Kids Skills

The other day I got an email from my mom. She was like, "Check out my new painting!"

This is what she sent me:

It's like sort of amateur and sort of not. When I got it I laughed and wrote back to her, "You shouldn't be painting. You should be a comic artist!"

It does have that old-school newspaper comic feel. After I replied to her, I reminded myself that drawing comics is what I do.

Some say that the arts are genetic, which may be partly true. I know for me, I became an artist because my mom took the time to teach me.

I was eight years old, relaxing on the bed with mom and reading comics on a summer day. We often read Archie comics together, enjoying all of the Betty and Veronica drama. On one of these days, my mom took out a notebook and started drawing the characters. I watched her sketch, making them come to life on paper. I was amazed.

"Show me how to do that!" I said. She helped me pick out a character from one of the comic books to draw.

I looked at the artwork and tried to copy it. Like most first time artists, I was struggling, and parts of the face were not coming together right. Then my mom gave me the best drawing advice ever. It's advice I still use today.

She said, "Drawing is like learning your ABCs. When you look at a picture, don't look at it as a whole. Look at it one part at a time, like when you write words. And like writing, the more you do it, you'll get better."

From there, my drawing skills started to develop. Thanks to her advice, I have the ability to create portraits from photos and more.

I've never gone to art school. Looking at the work of other artists and knowing how to copy well is how I learn.

Often parents worry so much about college and their children's outside education that they forget about taking time to teach their kids the life skills they have personally learned. Children who are not taught by their parents are very unfortunate.

When I was ten, my mom taught me how to use a sewing machine and construct clothes. Now when I go shopping, I have the freedom to be like, "Do I want to buy that, or can I make it?"

A parent who works in accounting could teach their child accounting. They may never become an accountant, but they will for sure know how to manage money, something that most people don't know how to do until they're an adult. Even with a skill as simple as cooking, if a parent who cooks well teaches their child how to cook, at least they will know how to take care of themselves when they're older. At the most they could develop a love for the culinary arts and make that their career.

Even if a parent has a job doing something as complicated as programming, they should definitely pass that skill on to their kids. Who knows? By the time they're teens, they could be developing their own apps for Apple and Google or designing web pages.

I have friends who have parents who speak a foreign language, but never taught it to them. That is so sad. Learning new languages opens new worlds. In the US, knowing a foreign language fluently is a real advantage when it comes to getting a job.

I'm glad that my parents often didn't let the thought that "she's way too young to learn such-and-such" stop them from teaching me. My dad taught me how to write stories when I was four. By the time I was in Kindergarten I was writing short narratives, and my teachers had to give me advanced reading and writing worksheets and materials.

Many parents want their children to be smart and to be placed in advanced classes. They put a lot of that responsibility on teachers and stress over picking the perfect school. Well as a past AP class taker and honor's student, I have to say that the reason why I was in advanced classes for most of my life is because my parents taught me so well that my school career started with advanced classes. I've had some wonderful teachers in the classroom, but it's my parents who made sure I started right.

And it wasn't like they were pushing me to learn more--they were simply passing on what they know to me in very relaxed settings. Often I didn't see it as learning, but as having fun with them.

Beyond the educational benefits of my parents taking the time to teach me, I have fantastic memories of wonderful times with them. I'll never forget sitting at the dining room table with my dad, my feet too short to touch the floor and hands almost to small to hold a pencil, writing "Once Upon a Time..." on some paper. As a four year old, I thought all stories had to start like that. My dad was my editor. He taught me basic sentence construction.

I remember standing on my tip-toes to look at the eggs sizzling on the stove and making sure that the grits were well done. My parents had me cooking breakfast for them regularly at eight years old. On days when my mom didn't feel like making breakfast, I could cook it on my own.

I am forever grateful to my parents for teaching me what their life has taught them. Parents who take the time out their busy lives to teach their children truly are special.