How to Raise ‘Creative’ Children


girl jumping Providence Moms BlogWe all want to raise creative children. Except… we don’t actually want ‘creative’ children. Wait! Hear me out.

Once I listened to Neil Gaiman’s father on a podcast. (Neil Gaiman is a writer of fantasy and science fiction.) Did he want to be the father of the famous Neil Gaiman? No! When he realized his son wanted to be a writer, he figured he would just have to support him the rest of his life. He really just wanted a kid who would be good at soccer and could support himself.

Two of my grown children are musicians, and the other is a blogger. Was that my plan?

No! I wanted accountants and engineers.

But I think I figured out what I did wrong.

Let me explain. When I was a child, I developed a theory about why my mother was…well…nicer than the other mothers I knew. She didn’t annoy and micro-manage us. We had this family friend, Aunt Ruby, who was formidable. She was in good shape, she was a great cook, her yard was perfect, and she just always did everything better. I was a little scared of her, and so were her kids. She supervised them carefully; she always made sure they ate right, cleaned their rooms, and did all their homework every night.

My mother wasn’t like that. She just always told us to go outside. If we were in the house, she turned on the TV. She let my brother and I wrestle in the living room. She left us alone when she worked next door, and we climbed up on the roof and jumped off it.

I loved my mother.

When it thundered, she didn’t cook and had us all go into the living room to watch the lighting. When my friend came over, she let us roam, and look for every creek in the area. When we came home soaking wet, every single time, she just put our clothes in the dryer and never told my friend’s mother anything about our adventures. Everyone liked to come over to our house. I was proud of her.

My theory was that she had 4 kids in 5 years. Aunt Ruby only had two. My mother simply couldn’t micro-manage. She was the master of ‘benign neglect’ because she had no other choices. She was just too tired. Myself, I had a third kid just so I wouldn’t ever be Aunt Ruby.

So what does that have to do with creativity?

Well, I think that mothers don’t foster creativity through what they do. They foster it through what they don’t do. ‘Creative’ children may be directly related to the failure to adequately parent.

There was some study that found that the main difference in households that produced highly ‘creative’ children and other households were that the ‘creative’ children’s parents had way fewer rules. Creative children are simply the benefactors, (or the victims) of benign neglect.

It isn’t the result of careful parenting. It isn’t fostered.

No. It slips out and slithers through the cracks. ‘Creativity’ is simply the failure to focus and get down to business, and much of life is dedicated to eradicating the trait. 

So, here is my advice. If you want ‘creative’ children, don’t try. Relax. When the toddlers do highly ‘creative’ stuff with their food, just look away. Check Facebook on your phone. Really. Trust me on this.


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Carol-Ane Woodard was born in Rehoboth, which is in Massachusetts, but really should be a part of Rhode Island. She grew up taking the Trailways bus into Providence and shopping at the Warwick Mall. She currently lives in Foxboro, Massachusetts with her husband of of 38 years, Paul Woodard, but she misses coffee cabinets, red clam chowder, and hot wieners, and she still considers Providence to be her home city. Carol-Ane graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1973 with a degree in sociology. She minored in business at U Mass Dartmouth and took a job for the FDIC as a bank examiner. She worked there for 30 years and retired 10 years ago. Other than her 3 children and 5 grandchildren, her hobbies include reading, reading, and more reading, interrupted only by hikes in the woods, Freecell, and knitting. Although her Linkedin profile lists her as a stay-at-home grandmother, Carol-Ane actually has a rather nervous disposition and is frightened by small children. Nevertheless, she persists.


  1. I am a mother, grandmother, also and enjoyed this article emensly because I can relate to it with humor, now in 2018. When I was young though, many people didn’t make it easy to nurse. I would have to say that my sister was my biggest support with this. Later as I had my second and third baby I had more friends and people around me that were also nursing. I too loved it because of the closeness it allowed with my baby and the simplicity of it all. It was simply healthy and convenient .

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