An unfashionable or socially inept person.
- A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest: “a computer geek”.
Accepting that your child is, in fact, a geek, is the first step to understanding and nurturing your geeky child. When you look at the definition above I want you to ignore the first definition. Geek used to be a rude and unkind term that was used to describe someone who was socially awkward. That term has been redeemed, taken from the garbage and been remade anew to describe the amazing people in our culture who have unusual, diverse and eccentric interests. Geekishness is popular and geeks like me are proud to be geeks. Sure geek is a label that does not accurately identify the individual, but it does allow individuals to identify themselves with a group, which is incredibly important to tweens and teens who are trying to find a niche for themselves among their peers.
So the question remains, is your child a geek? I certainly hope so. Geeks are the most talented and interesting people I know. You might think that is unfair to people who aren’t geeks, but I have met very few people who aren’t geeks. In my book you are either 1. a geek 2. a geek in denial 3. suffer from a widely accepted form of geekism that does not consider itself geeky (aka football and other sporting phenomena), or 4. well, there is no 4, because I have never met a person who doesn’t have some tiny part of themselves that is geeky. Laugh all you want about #3, but I will remind all of you footballers who think that Star Trek fans dressed as Vulcans or Klingons are weird, that there are those among you who paint team names on bare chests, spray paint hair, and wear giant foam fingers to support your favorite team. Maybe the first step should be to accept yourself as a geek?
In order to lead you on a path to acceptance of your child’s geekishness, I want you ask yourself these questions.
1. What do I know about what my child is interested in? What questions can I ask my child about their interest so that I can learn about it and show my child that I am interested in them. How can I become more knowledgeable about my child’s interests?
2. Am I worried about their interest? Why am I worried about this interest? Can I discuss these concerns/ fears with my child?(example: I am worried that my child will not be able to separate fantasy from reality like in that Tom Hanks movie Monsters and Mazes. My mom actually had this fear, and thankfully she asked me about it, because I was able to tell her that I knew what I was reading was completely fictional and I was not in danger of losing my grasp on reality or try to become a wizard…Thank you Harry Potter, but as long as you explain magic is imaginary and people can’t really turn into cats your kid will not seriously grow up believing magic is real.)
3. Are there ways I can help my child pursue their interest? Are there things I can do with my child in their interest area to stay involved with them? Are there programs/groups/events in their interest area that can help them safely develop their interests and give them opportunities to socialize with children who share their interests?
I want you to put some thought and honesty into answering these questions for yourself, because understanding what you really think about your child and your child’s interest is extremely important. Even more important to nurturing the relationship you have with your child is finding ways in which you can support them and participate in their interests.