By Jessica Ziegler, Co-creator of Science of Parenthood
The popularity of coloring books for adults exploded last year, leading to a sharp rise in print book sales. As the trend continues to build momentum this year, kids across the nation are finding it harder and harder to win space on that most coveted of household real estate: the refrigerator.
We spoke to several patrons at a local coffee shop to ask about their renewed interest in coloring. Parents swept up in the trend claim that coloring relaxes them, taking them out of their routine for a few moments.
“I have so few concrete accomplishments each day that I can point to and be proud of,” laments one mother, unpacking a 124-count tin of colored pencils. “My colorings fill an empty space inside me I didn’t know was there.”
Another mother agreed as she carefully cut a completed page from her coloring book and placed it in a leather-bound portfolio case. “I’m really good at staying inside the lines now. I find that incredibly satisfying. And my color sense, well…” she gestured to her toddler scrawling brown crayon over orange in her own coloring book.
When asked what they do with all of their completed work, they agreed that the refrigerator is the de facto gallery of the home. “There is a lot of work on ours right now, maybe 20 or 25 pieces. My husband thinks it’s a fire hazard,” she said.
Psychologist Dr. Marnie Feltpotter thinks something deeper is at play.
Over the past 12 months, Dr. Feltpotter has been seeing a dramatic increase in clients struggling to find a balance between their desire to encourage their children’s creativity and their need for personal validation in the form of domestic “gold stars,” as represented by eye-level refrigerator placement.
“Society steers parents toward competition, leading them to compare themselves to their peers and to compare their offspring to their offspring’s peers,” Dr Feltpotter said. “It’s only logical that this competitive spirit would eventually shift to a self-to-offspring dynamic.”
When asked how this might affect the parent-child relationship long-term, Dr. Feltpotter replied, “Oh, it’s not healthy. At all.”
We spoke with one of Dr. Feltpotter’s clients, a 34-year-old mother of two, about her coloring book habit.
“When I put my coloring book pages next to Arden’s and Lila’s? I mean, there was no question whose work was going on that fridge,” she said, clutching a sheaf of drawings in her lap.
“All I’m saying is that if the kids expect fridge space, they’d better bring their A-game.”
“As you see, there is still a lot of work to be done here,” Dr. Feltpotter said.
About the Author
Jessica Ziegler is Science of Parenthood‘s co-creator, illustrator and contributing writer. Her writing and illustration have been published on The Huffington Post, BonBonBreak.com and InThePowderRoom.com. In 2015 she was named a Blogher Humor Voice of the Year. Her books include the highly acclaimed The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets and the upcoming Science Of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations (Nov 2015) from She Writes Press. You can find more from Science of Parenthood on Facebook and Twitter.