Creative people are the individuals who produce the changes each new generation enjoys. Mary Lou Cook accurately describes the creative process: "Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."

The world is cluttered by millions of projects that were only started. Having ideas is not the most difficult step in creativity. Who hasn't had dreams that they labeled "weird" or "crazy," only to learn later that someone else brought reality to their dream?

The Second Stage in the Creative Process Is Incubation 

Understand that apparent inactivity is not necessarily unproductive.

The incubation stage is the period when the child is mulling over the problem. It is the time for exploration of possibilities. Creativity seldom follows a paced pattern from idea to completed project. This stage can be discouraging, for it is a time of trial and error. False starts are disappointing and time-consuming. This stage probably requires more patience than any other. The creator is searching for the "aha" moment.

The Third Stage Is Illumination

The illumination stage can be even more exciting than the final stage. This is the Eureka! moment when the course of action is determined. The creator knows, and he knows that he knows, what has to be done. The only thing left now is the hard work required to complete the task.

The Fourth Stage Is Verification

By the verification stage, the creator has recognized the problem, considered alternatives, chosen a course of action, and followed through. It is now the moment of truth. Has the problem actually been solved?

Warren G. Bennis could have been thinking of parents of creative children when he wrote, "There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish."

Blessed is the creative parent who can do the latter!

Understanding the Creative Child

Successful and satisfying parenting in great measure depends on understanding each child individually. It is likely that parents of creative children will spend more time trying to understand their creative offspring than their "normal" conforming youngsters.

Creative Children Do Not Fit the Mold, Regardless of the Mold Being Used

It is true that each person is unique, but creative children impress that truth on parents more forcefully than others. Creativity is always expansive, going outward. Creative children are challenging because they don't fit the indefinable norm. Kids are more easily managed if they conform to "my" expectations and stay within "my" comfort zone.

Each society is built on conforming sameness and routine. Creative minds like things different, with variety. Society operates on conformity; creative souls enjoy nonconformity. Parents of creative children must help guide them in balancing between the two.

Creative Children Seem Always to Interpret Things a Bit Differently

I often wonder if creative kids are intentionally disobedient, or if they hear the directions differently. "Listening to a different drummer" is a nice cliché, but sometimes it is natural to question if creative children are even playing the same tune.

How do you handle this scenario? You have given a specific assignment with specific details and have definite preconceived ideas of what your children should do. The creative child's final results are better than you expected but slightly different than requested. Are you frustrated because he didn't follow directions, or are you proud that his solution is "better" than yours?

This dilemma also reveals a difference in learning styles. Dependent learners will wait patiently until all the details are given. During the working period, they are constantly checking to see if they are doing it correctly. How exciting to look at the final paper—it's just what you hoped for.