October 19, 2017

How to Raise a Unicorn: a Guide for Parents of Creative, Sensitive Children.

First, what the hell is a unicorn?

Dyed whipped cream in a to-go coffee cup. Yup.

Pooper of rainbows? Okay. (You say that like it’s a bad thing.)

Over-used, meme-infested cliché? Nope. Too far.

Truthfully, we’re nowhere close to over-talking the profound value of being unique, magical, and special in this world. If anything, we need to get excited about the gorgeous rainbow of modern unicorn qualities—imagination, sensitivity, creativity, empathy, intuition—wherever we find them.

Why not start with our youngest magical creatures?

That creative, sensitive little hand we’re holding. The one attached to the munchkin who saves the bug we want to squash, is afraid of the Disney movie we want to watch, who seems to feel (and cry about) every freaking thing in the universe.

I know it’s hard.

I was that mom, constantly apologizing and explaining and cringing and waiting for the emotional shoe to drop. We get confused, embarrassed, exhausted. But we also love those little glitter-covered, tear-stained wrecks, and we want them to be happy.

From our parental perspective, being too different (too emotional, too expressive, just over-all too much) makes our babies vulnerable. So we say all the things we were taught: “That’s just the way it is. He has to fit in. She has to toughen up.”

Again, nope—just no.

Reality check: the unicorn’s time has come.

Humanity is undergoing a huge shift. Old paradigms are falling apart, and we are in desperate need of people who perceive and respond differently than we’ve been taught.

We, as parents, need to saddle up and fly our “Unicorn Champion” flags. We need to ride the rainbows. Be done with that awful, unempowered feeling of making our kids be less (less creative, less hyper, less precocious, less emo, less whatever) and help them change the world.

They’re going to anyway. The question is, are they going to have to work as hard as we’re working now to learn self-love and self-worth, or can we just give it to them?

I hope we can all agree that these unicorn children exist and that we need to support them, but how?

Here are four ways—and while they’re not always easy, remember that we didn’t get these magical creature in our lives by accident. We can do this.


1. Believe in magic.

I’m not kidding. When we’re floating in space and literally made of stars, how can we not believe in magic?

What we think determines our choices and our choices create our lives. Believe in the magic of your unicorn child. When we support their creative interests and passions—buy the supplies, check out the books, allow the intensity, be genuinely enthusiastic—we’re supporting them as whole beings.

Creative self-expression is the force responsible for every beautiful thing we see and every bypassed horrible thing we’ll never have to. Make creativity physically and emotionally safe with your presence and your approval.

2. Be gentle.

Don’t ask unicorn children to change based on their environment. First of all, they often can’t. More importantly, they are here to be themselves—so let the world change. And use your amazing grownup power to move it along.

Create a home and lifestyle that feels good to unicorns. Advocate and volunteer at your child’s school for similar changes, or homeschool. Don’t accept that things must be painful in order to be “normal.” These kids have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just like everyone else.

And as parents, we are allowed to be gentle. It’s okay to be the one who does it differently.

3. Celebrate all the feels.

We get tired dealing with all our unicorn’s emotions, right? Imagine how they feel.

We can add a lot of unnecessary stress to emotional ups and downs by putting value judgments on them. No feeling is good or bad—they’re all just feelings. Unicorns have this rich, rad inner life and the ability to care deeply about so much. They go through the whole range of human emotions easily and often—no actual drama required—and that’s a beautiful thing.

Commit to being fine with feelings—your unicorn’s and your own.

4. Love and grow yourself.

This is the only way. Unicorns can feel when we’re out of integrity—with them or with ourselves.

They can sense when we don’t believe in what we’re doing, when we’re giving up too easily. They also watch us being too hard on ourselves and will turn right around and do the same thing. When we dream, when we create our own lives, they do too.

Observe well-cared for unicorns doing their thing and you’ll know what joy and flow look like. They’re born to be expressive, wonderfully sensitive leaders.

If we choose to, we can be out there in the cosmic breeze learning, centering, trusting ourselves, and leading with them. And basking in all their precious, creative, rainbow-colored love.



Author: Lisa Dulany
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

Lisa Dulany Oct 21, 2017 9:13pm

Love and magic to you and your girls, Courtney—what a blessing you give them by just SEEING who they are and letting them know that you believe they’re perfect. Thank you!!

Lisa Dulany Oct 21, 2017 9:10pm

Thank you so much, Melissa—it hurts my heart that it’s so hard to be a kid (and a teacher!!) in this world—but I also have enormous hope. Just the fact that we’re having this conversation about the spiritual and emotional needs of kids is so incredibly positive—I really think that just letting each other know that we believe these things will spur change.

Lisa Dulany Oct 21, 2017 8:56pm

Thank you, Deborah! I’m so glad you found it helpful, and I’m sending love to you and your magical granddaughter!

Courtney Juelfs Oct 20, 2017 9:04pm

Love this so much! It is very hard raising children and knowing how cold the world can be and know how much it might hurt your babies, especially when they have such enormous heart and so much of the "feels"! I've even apologized to my 13 and 15 year old girls about this- that they have such beautiful souls in a world that doesn't always feel like home.... they are amazing girls ❤️

Melissa Sutherland Oct 20, 2017 5:57pm

Love your article. The world needs unicorns too, but early school life (in the UK at least) is currently at serious risk of making them extinct.

Deborah Taylor Oct 20, 2017 2:30pm

What an AWESOME read. My granddaughter IS a bona fide, beautiful, wild unicorn. Grateful for the advice in this article on how to cultivate her (and my) inner unicorn! :-)

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Lisa Dulany

Lisa Dulany is a Unicorn Champion, deeply informed by her experiences as a teacher, chaplain, and homeschooling mom. She is also a funny little forest fairy who grew up on the shores of Lake Superior, steeped in small-town love and dysfunction and generally miraculous natural magic. She supports the creativity, sensitivity, and self-expression of other magical creatures (especially the young ones!) as an artist, wordsmith, and hugger. You can find her writing and curating rad, inspiring resources on everything from yoga and meditation to high sensitivity to crystal power and flower crowns at her website.