I remember as an 11 year old how I enjoyed creating my own comic books. In fact, one of my best friends was also an artist and we would spend holidays and weekends together working on our own comic books. I loved the Disney/Looney Toons type of comics, while he was more into the Marvel/DC Comics genre. Nevertheless, we had great times just drawing, chatting, laughing, and sharing our storyline plots with each other.
These were great memories.
I am sharing this with you because there are great benefits in having a hobby you enjoy, and to encourage your kids to have a hobby could be one of the best investments you can make in them. Allow me to share with you just some of the reasons why it is beneficial for kids to practice a hobby, and why you should encourage it.
One of the greatest attributes that a hobby teaches you is to have patience, and I am sure you would agree with me that there are a lot of patience lacking in todays world. People simply can’t wait anymore.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “I want the report on my desk yesterday“? It is so common in the workplace. Just sit in traffic for a few minutes and see how everyone, including yourself, become impatient. Everything needs to happen fast. We have fast food restaurants. And when that wasn’t fast enough, we created drive-thru’s to get our food even faster.
We live in an impatient world. But having patience is actually an instruction from the Lord. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit that we read about in Galatians 5:22-23. But Colossians 3:12 also says this.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Colossians3:12
So why will a hobby help your child develop patience?
Because as with my comic books I created, it took me months to complete. There weren’t any shortcuts for me to take. If I wanted to finish my comic book, I had to spend the time to complete it. Looking back I created around 8 comic books; and even though the artwork was terrible I am still very proud because I know the hard work and time it took me to create them.
There is a great sense of accomplishment when you practice patience.
Believe it or not, creating comic books really taught me self-discipline. It help me understand that in order to complete a comic book, there are a few stages I have to go through; like coming up with a concept and storyline, planning the layout, writing the story, drawing eveything in pencil first and then go over the artwork with pen.
I also learned that if I want to finish my comic book at a certain date (like before the holidays end), I would have to create a certain amount of pages per day, and I would have to stick to that target if I would like to achieve my goal.
My hobby taught me the processes I need to follow to complete a task, and how to setup a deadline and to achieve it. I realised that if I stick to the goals and processes, I would have a comic book by the end of the school holidays. If I don’t, then I won’t have a comic book. My hobby tought me all of this, and it was self-discipline that helped me achieve my goals every time.
A lot of people describe their hobbies as their ‘happy place‘, and I can understand why. For me there was something magical when I could go into my room, close the door and draw for hours.
My comic books took my mind away from school, bullies, exams, cleaning my room, and all the struggles an 11-year old may have. It aloud me to forget about everything negative around me and to focus on something I love and enjoy – making comic books.
I realised today why this was so important, because it gave me balance in my life. I wasn’t overwhelmed by all the negative things in my life, I made time to fill it with the good, positive things too. To not have a ‘happy place‘ you can go to can create a massive inbalance in your life and you will soon find no joy. You will develop a negative attitude and be a “glass half empty” type of person.
You can’t do anything with all the negative things happening in your life, but you can create a balance for yourself that will help you live a more happy and fulfilled life.
Develop critical thinking skills
To practice a hobby allows you to think critically, creatively and analytically. In creating a comic book, I had to think about a lot of things; from storyline, character development and plot, down to the darkness of my pencil and the thickness of my pen. There are a lot of things to think about and it all plays a massive part in the success of my comic book.
Growing up in the ‘pre-social media’ and internet age, I couldn’t watch Youtube videos, do a Google search or take online courses to learn comic book creation. I had to learn everything myself. Let that sink in for a moment. I was 11 years old, and I tought myself everything about comic book creation.
I studied other comic books. I see how they lay out their pages. When to have a closeup on a character, and when they need to be far. I compared my work to proffesionals and see where can I improve. I made mistakes and learned from them.
Hobbies creates a hunger to learn. It inspires you to improve and get better. But more important than anything else – it forces you to think.
Protection against other bad influences
This is actually pretty obvious. If your child have something they love to do, like a hobby, it keeps them away from any other activities that could be bad for them. Like the old saying, ‘it keeps them off the streets.’
I watched an interview with Cheslin Kolbe on YouTube. Cheslin shot to worldwide fame as a Springboks rugby player after scoring a memorable try in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final. In this interview Cheslin talks about his upbringing and how he grew up in an enviroment full of gangsters. Some of his best childhood friends ended up being gangsters, and some of them aren’t even alive today because of their choices. But rugby was something Cheslin could focus on. His dad was a rugby player and he fell in love with the sport from a young age.
Even though rugby is a sport and not a hobby, the example I want to illustrate is the same. Cheslin had something he enjoyed that he would much rather spend time on than being out on the streets. His love for rugby protected him from hanging out with the wrong crowds and being badly influenced, because he chose to spend more time playing rugby.
And the same can be said with hobbies. I spent my weekends and holidays drawing comic books. It was my passion and I enjoyed it. And that kept me away from doing other things or hang out with the wrong crowds. I had something to do in my free time that I love and enjoy, and if I were to choose between doing mischief with other kids and drawing comics, I would choose drawing comics everytime.
Prepare them for future success
I just used Chesliln Kolbe as an example of someone who enjoyed something as a child, and then later on make it their carreer and being successful in it. But again, I would like to use myself as an example.
I created little insignificant comic books as a child. Not a lot of people read it beside my family. But it wasn’t a waste of my time, because guess what I am doing today? I am creating animation shows for a Christian streaming platform called Tween Xstream. This childhood hobby turned into my carreer and I am ministering to young kids with this talent as well.
Thinking back, those weekends and holidays that I spent drawing my comic books, God prepared me for something bigger for when I am older. Cheslin Kolbe is a born-again Christian and he has a huge testimony of how God healed his ancle in the World Cup. He didn’t play in the semi-finals and nearly missed out on the finals. But God knew the person Cheslin will become and through the guidance of his parents, he worked on his rugby skills as a child. Today he is seen as one of the biggest rugby stars of our time.
Your child’s hobby could be God preparing them for greater things. So encourage them. Support them. Motivate them. Give them the time and space to practice a hobby that they love and enjoy. Whether it is playing rugby, making comic books, building small models of ships and tanks, or making clothes for her Barbie doll. Because here is what I have learned as an 11 year old kid making comic books. I learned patience, self-discipline, competence, problem solving and critical thinking. I had a more balanced and happy childhood and was protected from bad influences. And I developed my skills and creativity that help me reach thousands of kids today.
This is what drawing comic books taught me. Not my parents, the school or my church. It was my hobby.