How to Know the ‘Who’ of Your Kids
Susie E Caron (c) 2019
The theme song, titled “Who Are You,” (adapted for tv’s original CSI series, composed by Pete Townsend and released by The Who in 1978), became my personal parenting approach. Beginning that year and within two years we’d adopted 2 infants. In those days we weren’t told anything about their biological parents or heritage. However, with this new song in my ear, I recognized I couldn’t possibly guess the ‘Who’ they would become until they each showed us. I stayed curious and open to the possibilities, a stance which continued from their infancy into young adulthood.
As adoptive parents, not knowing where your kids came from or who they may become can be an advantage. Many of us, regularly born kids, come into families with lots of history. As a result, we may suffer the unnecessary projected expectations of our parents and grandparents. I was one of those kids. While stories abound of butcher, baker and candlestick makers’ sons and daughters rebelling to move in different directions that didn’t exactly happen, with me.
I was a good kid (mostly) and did all of the traditional things expected in those years (mostly). I went to college, married, taught elementary school and adopted 2 infants. My husband and I agreed that I could be a stay at home Mom and I loved every minute of it. When our kids went to school, I opened and taught a riding school. My other career opportunities came and went depending on our kids ages, their growing needs and what was available wherever we moved, from time to time.
My rebellion or perhaps better written, blossoming, came later in my life when I retired with my husband.
I’m happy to report our kids grew up into fine human beings, successful in both their careers and lives. I wonder, if we’d pushed would they have become farmers and teachers, just as we were? Staying curious, we watched, supported and encouraged their individual interests and they ultimately surprised us. Our daughter went into the army followed by college graduation and good career choices. Our son acquired a taste for things alien to us: adventure, big cities, and the world of big business. Different from each other and from us – of course, we love them both.
I sometimes wonder ‘ Who’ I might have become if my parents had opted a curious attitude toward my developing interests. I’ll never know. However, I did find out my ‘Who’ after all.
Recently I received the honor of an interview and featured article posted on the Village Frame Shoppe Blog.
I invite you to read how I discovered my ‘Who’ in
Susie Caron Artist Profile.
( With my thanks to freelance journalist Leon Thompson and the Village Frame Shoppe, St. Albans, VT)
Open a Window to Your Kids with Paint
Susie E Caron
Want to get to know your kids better? Want to understand what makes them happy or what’s bothering them? Open a window to your children with paint!
Today I'll tell you why & how this works and what helps get the flow of information going-along with the paint.
How does painting help?
Painting together helps kids (and adults) express emotions and verbalize some of the thoughts that go with the feelings. Kids find it easy to paint. Painting brings out feelings easier than drawing because it pulls from a different part of the brain. The sensory experience of laying wet color on paper offers a kind of ‘flow’ state that allows feelings to become words - in a safe environment.
What you’ll need.
All you need is a cleared surface, inexpensive watercolor paint, brushes (or cotton swabs, pieces of sponge or rags), paper & water. Clear the table, put out the supplies and turn on a bit of music if you like. For kids between 5 & 9 this will probably last from 30 to 60 minutes.
Some painting prompts.
Now, kids will paint without prompts, but here are a few to help you get the conversation, and information flowing.
Ask them to paint their happiest feelings.
Ask them to paint what makes them mad.
Ask them to paint people they know and perhaps anyone they think could be scary.
Ask them to paint their family, house or school.
Ask them to ‘tell you about their painting.’
Don’ts and Do’s while they paint.
It’s important that during this painting time you don’t direct their paintings or correct what they tell you and don’t teach. If you really want to ‘hear’ them and learn something, this offers a fun time (and information too). This isn’t about right, wrong, or accuracy. Instead let them paint at will. Be kind, supportive and paint with them.
Paint with them. Your painting doesn’t have to be spectacular. If you have artistic talent – great. If you don’t just paint sky with balloons or flowers or hearts. Paint something that you can say it’s about how happy you feel painting with them. Keep it simple and loving.
What and How to ask questions to open their windows.
This is time for you to get to know your children better. So feel free to ask open ended questions. (Those are questions Kids can’t answer with a simple “ yes” or “no”. )
Instead of “Is that a picture of x,y,z?” Say “I like your painting. Tell me about it.”
Instead of “Oh that looks sad (happy, etc)”. Say “Oh that’s really interesting. What's it all about it.”
If you don’t understand something they say. Ask them to tell you some other way.
One more thing: How to respond to what they say.
It’s really encouraging to them (and they’ll tell you more) when you ‘reflect’ what they say. This is easy to do. Simply repeat what they say in your own words. For example, “So are telling me you feel like this activity or person is a lot of fun to be with.” Or “I hear you that situation (person) can be scary.” Or even “
“ Wow You really like blue trees.”
When they seem finished (or you’ve had enough) thank them for painting with you. Tell them you really enjoyed the time together and to see their paintings. After they dry hang them on the refrigerator for a few days. Don’t throw them away. Instead after a short time, offer the paintings to the kids for their rooms. Perhaps they’ll be replaced with next week’s art.
Reflect on What did you learn about your kids.
When you opened this window what did you learn?
You just provided a safe space and caring relationship with your kids. This is how you get them to open up to you. Now take what you learned and adjust how you want to keep the communication open and make this fun so they'll do it again. They may even continue to talk with you in their ‘tweens and beyond.'
Relationship is key to raising good kids. Listening to them and sharing an activity like painting will open windows to their inner thoughts and feelings. It helps develop an open and honest relationship between you and your kids for years to come.
Big 'AH HA' to Affordable Art
Susie E Caron (c) 10/11/19
An Art Experiment leads to an Ah Ha Moment.
What began as an experiment grew into a bigger, well smaller, but creative idea to serve more pet people.
I want to know what you think about this.
I engage in a lively pet art business, and regularly sell 2 or more 8x10 custom pet portraits a month. Because I enjoy serving pet people this way, I wanted a way to make a portion of my pet portrait art affordable to a larger pet owning and loving population. Cruising the Blick art catalog I discovered 5 x 7 unpainted easels along with 4 x 4 canvas boards. Those seemed to suffice. This was an experiment, so I ordered just 4 of each.
I picked out my subjects, sketched them and completed each one with acrylic paints and added a healthy spray satin varnish when dry. They were fun to paint and looked so cute sitting on their tiny easels. (Don't you think so? See 3 above.) Then I remembered something.
First A Little History
Years ago, after receiving my first acrylics, I’d painted some of each family members’ favorite things on wooden squares. I covered them in gesso, acrylic paints, and finished with satin varnish. This made them durable and waterproof coasters. Each family received several for Christmas. I even made some for us. We've used ours daily to protect our furniture from our coffee cups and cold drink glasses. The coasters are easy to wipe off and don't watermark or stain because of the waterproof materials.
The Solution to Create Affordable Art for Pet People.
I combined the two ideas. Hand painted-art-coasters plus little easels could indeed fill my desire to make pet portraits more affordable to pet people. I could sell them at reasonable prices. Customers can buy them for themselves, or for gifts, or possibly order a custom coaster of a pet or animal of their own choosing. What could be better than affordable pet art perched on a tiny easel that also doubles as a useful household item – a coaster? What do you think?
I really enjoy creating memorable art portraits for people who love their pets. Please feel free to contact me when you want me to paint one for you.
Write to me by commenting here or email@example.com.
Susie Caron, acrylic artist, creates realistic paintings of pets, animals, and selected scenes. Her love of and experience with many pets and farm animals throughout her life, enables her to capture the unique feeling and expression of each subject. In her commission pet and livestock portraits, Susie also works with each customer to discover and then reveal the personality and special bond between pet and human.
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