Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A mother’s critique


My 13-year-old is applying for a special art program at her school for next year. As part of her application, she has to draw a portrait. She’s been working hard every night, trying out different ideas and different materials. After she’s done with each one, she comes to find me and ask for my opinion.**And then she promptly gets mad when I don’t agree with her about which one is the best or if I make suggestions.

It’s not her fault. She’s young and hasn’t quite figured out a universal truth: Asking for Mom’s opinion isn’t a good idea for some of us. Shoot, I’m forty-something, have been a professional writer for twelve years, have nine published books and another coming out next year and I STILL can’t ask my mother for her opinion about anything I’ve written. I’m just too sensitive to any criticism or lack of enthusiasm she may have. In all fairness, my mom is not super critical or anything. I think it’s just a mom-daughter kind of thing. Or maybe simply a mother-child thing. My mother is also a professional artist so that might have something to do with it, too. (We creative folks have such sensitive egos!) I used to think it had to do with how much I value her opinion, but what’s weird is that I don’t have the same problem with my dad. I value his opinion just as much as my mother’s, but somehow, his critiques -which are frequently harsher – are easier to handle.

How about you? Are there any people in your life who you just can’t share your work with? If so, what is it about your relationship with them that keeps you from handling their feedback with a grain of salt?

**By the way, in case you haven’t guessed, my favorite picture is the one I’ve included here. My daughter wishes she could pull off a realistic portrait, but honestly, I just love her touch-of-Anima style!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina 05.20.10 at 3:46 am

Your daughter is such a good artist! I love the expression in the girl’s eyes.

My husband is a person that is pretty tough on me as far as my writing goes. He’s an English teacher and a writer himself so maybe that’s why. So he usually reads my final drafts.

Debbie 05.20.10 at 9:19 am

I love your daughter’s artwork, too!

My husband is a tough critiquer as well. Things are also complicated because although he’s an excellent editor re: sentence flow, typos, etc., he didn’t read many kids’ novels when he was younger; he read mostly just the classics.

Andrea 05.20.10 at 2:09 pm

My husband rarely reads fiction, so he doesn’t read my writing. For me, it’s my oldest daughter who is the toughest. She points out every possible weakness in each novel, but I love to get her take on my writing, because she makes me work hard to impress her.

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