Why Our Children Need Us To Make Bad Art…

By October 4, 2013General


I play the guitar, badly.

Despite my intense love for music, I’m not what you would call “musically gifted.” I have no rhythm, I rarely can find the right note and, from what I understand, those are key elements of making beautiful music.

So I make ugly music. I grab my beloved little Baby Taylor (best Christmas gift ever – thanks hubby) and I ruin all my favorite songs. You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to play for anyone outside my family (although, if you’re interested in making this offer, I’m open to rethinking my stand), but my kids love singing with me.

They run to their instruments to join in. They sing and dance around the room. Now, don’t get me wrong. We are no family von Trapp. This isn’t amazing music. This isn’t commercial art.

It sounds exactly like you would think a rhythmically challenged, tone deaf woman playing a guitar with her three children accompanying her on a piano, violin and plastic tambourine would sound.


But I don’t think the sounds we make are the art. I think the art is my willingness to step into a place of vulnerability and lead my children in something I have no natural talent at….and allow them to come alive.

Last night my home was filled with the echoes of my children singing these words:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

To hear my own children singing these words….if that isn’t the most beautiful art in the world, I don’t know what is.

So, I challenge each of you this weekend to make art with your children, even if you’re bad at it. The process, their presence, your love is what makes it beautiful. That’s what makes it art.

(If you haven’t listened to the Inspired To Action Podcast from Wednesday, be sure to go listen. I chatted with author (and friend) Emily Freeman about her book A Million Little Ways and how we can uncover the art we were made to live. Her wisdom and encouragement are well worth your time.)

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  • Avatar Sarah says:

    I am in 100% agreement with you on this, Kat. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll spend some time planning bad art for the weekend. πŸ˜‰

  • Avatar Mel says:

    I am living this! Unathletic mom takes martial arts with her kids. Hilarious, fun, humbling. πŸ™‚

  • Avatar Leah says:

    Very freeing! They need to see that we are willing to try and fail. And even more importantly, that when we do, it doesn’t shatter our self-image because our security and worth isn’t wrapped up in performance, but is rather rooted and grounded in Christ.

    I would have loved to sing along to your music!

  • Yes! Yes! Yes! Can I say yes again?

    Because this is what I give you a standing ovation for: “But I don’t think the sounds we make are the art. I think the art is my willingness to step into a place of vulnerability and lead my children in something I have no natural talent at….and allow them to come alive.”

    That’s it. Right there – being fully yourself in the presence of others, inviting others to be fully themselves as well – this is the art we live.

    Thank you Kat. I’m sorry I’ve already finished the book because I wish I could quote this post in it. So good.

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    This is great! We should definitely jam together!…plastic tambo and garlic salt container shakers and all! :p And yes, love the Baby….although my 6yo has been trying to teach me ukelele now. And what I have actually been working on is art. I have no idea how I was ever a preK teacher once upon a time because I can’t stand messes, so I’ve been working at being a ‘yes mom’ for the past few weeks, and we have been doing some kind of art project (sometimes simple like watercolor, other times boxed, and we might go crazy with actual paint sometimes) once a week. And also baking…I’m not the best baker and our baked goods don’t always turn out great, but they love spending that time together and learning new skills. Off to listen to that podcast. P.S. Don’t look at the timestamp on here and take away my HelloMornings card…totally took a nap today and am now not sleepy at all.

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    P.P.S. BTW, that’s not the actual time here… #timezonedifference

  • Avatar timdani says:

    I’m a music teacher and I LOVE this post. Almost every parent I have spoken to in my program starts their conversation with “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” I’m always telling my kids that it’s not always about performance and how good you are. Being able to connect with other people, express yourself, give back to your community and have fun with your friends is really a gift. Keep up the music making. You should hear me and my kids jamming in the car. We must look crazy but they love it!

  • Avatar Debbie says:

    You are so right. I am a grandma to a beautiful 5 year old granddaughter, a handsome 3 year old grandson and a delightful 22 month old grandson. I am also musically challenged but love to sing anyway and started singing “Amazing Grace” to my 22 month old grandson when he was a baby whenever I would put him down for his nap or help to put him to bed at night. At 22 months, he knows most of the words to the first verse of this song and although it is in his cute little language, it is recognizable and he loves to sing it with me. It also calms him when he is unsettled and his 2 siblings join in whenever they can as does his mommy. God loves our worship sung to Him even if it doesn’t sound that good to human ears and wouldn’t win a place in a choir or worship band. And…it is teaching these little children about God’s amazing grace and mercy (the gospel). Keep up the great posts and your encouragement to us all.