I was in Barnes and Noble the weekend that Star Wars Episode 7 came out and had a great conversation with a young gentleman about the film, as we were both looking at the books and merchandise that they had in store. He hadn’t seen it but was asking me some questions (don’t worry, I didn’t spoil him). He said he probably wasn’t going to see it since tickets were expensive and his Mom wasn’t a fan of the movies.
When his Mom came over I could tell she was a little perturbed about him talking about Star Wars again and hanging around by the merchandise.
It caused me to think about how genuinely lucky I was to have parents who embraced their Geeky daughter (despite me joking about my parents doing the opposite). I grew up Mormon (and still am) so as you can imagine, my upbringing was very religious. But despite my religious background I grew to become the geek I am today! Mormons though are actually pretty geeky themselves! My own non geeky Mom even was so excited about Star Wars and was able to avoid spoilers (though she came close to finding out!) until she finally got to see it the other day (and she called me excitedly about it afterwards to ask questions).
Of course my parents weren’t always into everything I liked, anime being the big one. Pokemon was as far as they got when it came to anime, but they humored my love for Miyazaki films. My Mom even went to Free Comic Book day for me so I didn’t miss out on a Spider-Man comic.
Heck, the biggest Geek flag of all for me was naming our daughter after a comic book company. They may not have been for it at first, but they jumped on the bandwagon! I was really excited when they went searching for something with Marvel on it to buy for my Grandparents for Christmas.
Not everyone is as lucky to have parents who are as Geeky as them or allow them to embrace their Geekiness. Like the kid mentioned above, I hope he doesn’t feel ashamed of his love for Star Wars (he knew a lot about it!).
I can understand it would be difficult to not understand where this Geeky child of yours came from. I know my parents have asked themselves that question multiple times. So for the parent that’s not quite sure how to be supportive of your child’s quirky likes, here’s some tips:
1. Never make fun of your child for something they like, even if it may be in jest or for fun.
From the time we are born, we look to the approval of our parents. I see Marvel look at me after she’s done something, with a big smile on her face to see if I was watching or if I’m going to tell her how great she’s doing. Our parents are where we learn about the world and how to interact with others. If a child is told by their parent that something is stupid or dumb or for “kids”, it’s going to stick with them for a long time. They may start to feel ashamed of what they were so enthusiastic about and may even cause them to dislike it and tell others it’s for “babies” or that it’s a stupid thing to like.
2. If you don’t like your child’s interest, don’t stop them from enjoying it.
I’m going to throw my Mom under the bus for a little bit here. When I first got into Lord of the Rings, I was watching the first movie (after having read the first book), and my Mom came in during the part where the Ringwraiths are attacking the Hobbits and Strider comes to help them. Obviously, it’s a dark scene because the Ringwraiths are evil. Because that was the only part she saw she thought it was an evil movie.
Even though my Mom didn’t like Lord of the Rings (and wouldn’t buy me the books and movies, though she did buy me The Hobbit!), she allowed me to go to the midnight showings with my friends and get the books from the library. Eventually, she did buy Sean and I the extended edition BluRay for Christmas. a few years back. So she’s come a long way.
This story about my Mom gives you two things. One thing you should do and one thing you shouldn’t do. My Mom was great in not forbidding me to watch the movies at all (if she did she would have had to forbid my Dad too as he liked them), but I don’t think you should not buy them something just because you don’t like it. That is of course unless it presents a legitimate concern over the health and safety of the child.
3. Find common ground.
Just because you may not like one thing that your kid likes, doesn’t mean you don’t like something else. As I mentioned before, my Mom was very excited to see Star Wars. Star Wars has always been the fandom that my parents are more understanding of. They may not be as into it as Sean and I are, but I remember as a young girl standing outside the theater waiting to see Episode 1 with my family. I also remember my dad talking about going to see some of the original trilogy in theaters as a young man.
My Dad’s also not one to read, but boy was I excited when after he saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire he called to borrow my copy of Mockingjay to read. If you knew my Dad, you’d know he’s not the type to just read a book like that for fun. He didn’t go back to read the first two books, but I wasn’t mad because he was actually reading something. His enjoyment of the movie and books series gave us something more in common.
4. Introduce them to new things.
I will always be thankful for my Mom in bringing home the first Harry Potter book. She’d heard it was good, so she bought it after working at a book fair at my elementary school. Unfortunately it took me longer than I’d like to admit to actually pick it up, but if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have found one of my lifelong fandoms.
If you hear about something new that your friend’s kids like or you notice online, it wouldn’t hurt to bring it up to your kid to see if they’ve heard about it and wanted to give it a try.
Chances are though, in this day and age, they’ve probably already heard about it, but it shows your kids that you’re engaged and understand their interests.
5. Give their interests a try, you might like it!
Unless you count The Hunger Games with my Dad, I’ve never had my parents really engage themselves in something I like.
Okay that’s a lie.
After they came to terms with Marvel’s name, they did their best at understanding all things Marvel.
But if that Mom in Barnes and Noble had taken the time to listen to her son’s interest and even gave it a chance by going to take him to the movie. She might even like it and they would find something that they could talk about. And I know from my conversations with him, he wouldn’t run out of things to say to his Mom.
I hope that other non Geeky parents out there will be more like mine and not like this young man’s. While there are great community resources that young Geeklings can join, our parents really shape who we turn out to be. If you show your child that you love them and love how interested they are in things, even if you don’t have an interest, it will really help your relationship and your child’s confidence grow and all round make them a better, more decent human being.