Making God a presence in a child’s life is a geeky concept. And geeky is good, according to author Marybeth Hicks, who wrote “Bringing Up Geeks: Genuine, Enthusiastic Empowered Kids,” a parental guidebook on “how to protect your kid’s childhood in a grow-up-too-fast world.”
Making God a presence in a child’s life is a geeky concept. And geeky is good, according to author Marybeth Hicks, who wrote “Bringing Up Geeks: Genuine, Enthusiastic Empowered Kids,” a parental guidebook on “how to protect your kid’s childhood in a grow-up-too-fast world.” Geeks are not outcasts. They are children who have the confidence to run counter to the “culture of cool.” They are the kids who read, who speak intelligently. Healthy interests, self-respect and having fun is very cool. But parents face a David vs. Goliath battle against peer pressure (from adults and kids), the Internet and the sexualization of children at younger and younger ages. “Bringing Up Geeks” is a how-to for besieged parents who value raising wholesome children above fitting in with the status quo. Preserving childhood innocence requires setting limits, follow-through and prizing good character over great gadgets. The role of religion is one aspect of a child’s wholeness. An active spiritual life is empowering to children, according to Hicks, a practicing Catholic and mother of four. How to create a relationship with God is found in the tenets of all religions. “In fact, when it comes to children and religion, my geek-parenting experience convinces me that it’s not which religion we practice and teach our children, but that we teach them one,” wrote Hicks in the chapter titled “Raising a Faithful Child.” Kids have a natural yearning for spirituality. She shared the findings of Dr. Robert Coles, a psychiatrist, who wrote “The Spiritual Life of Children” and concluded that all children have an innate curiosity about spirituality, and soul-searching begins at a very early age. The Harvard professor’s book is based on 30 years of interviews and research into children’s psyches. Faith can help kids get through the painful hurdles of childhood from which no one is exempt. “Bringing Up Geeks” shared findings such as there is a strong correlation between religious practice and overall happiness in family life. Kids of parents who engage in regular religious practice are better behaved and more well-adjusted than other kids. Children whose parents regularly attended church and talked at home about their religious beliefs showed better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids of nonreligious parents. Religious teens engage less often in high-risk behavior than their nonreligious peers. How to promote a more spiritual and religious outlook with kids? Hicks had three suggestions. Look up toward a Godly perspective. Even when we don’t understand what’s going on, God has a plan and we benefit from his rules. Look out at others. Giving and serving reap the rewards of friendship and a healthy community Look in to develop self-reflection, prayer and meditation, which strengthen the heart in times of trouble. Each year, Hicks’ family of six sets out on a ritual walk in the autumnal twilight. Their four children are now ages 18, 16, 14 and 10. With Scotty the dog in tow, the kids share their hopes for the coming school year, such as sports goals, better grades or a personal best. It is a time for recalling memories and looking ahead to changes. Parenting is a stewardship. To be raised toward independence and responsibility, kids are better prepared someday to use their unique talents for the good of all. It’s not just about achievements yet to be reached. “Somewhere in the planning, we have to set a goal about being the person God wants us each to be – a person who may be asked to suffer, to sacrifice, and to search for meaning not only in our accomplishments but in our failures,” Hicks wrote. Another school year brings on pressures to fit in, and Hicks encourages parents to view “geek” and other not-so-cool words to be worn as badges of honor, when she wrote: To be a brainiac is to accept God’s gift of intellect; to use our abilities to discover and enjoy God’s awesome creation – our universe. To be sheltered is to accept God’s gift of innocence; to see the world through unspoiled eyes and to appreciate life with a sense of wonder. To be uncommon is to accept God’s gift of uniqueness; to claim our own interests and passions and follow our own paths, not just follow others. To be a late bloomer is to accept God’s gift of dignity; to refuse to be exploited by others. Geeks in progress – it’s never too late to raise a Genuine, Enthusiastic and Empowered Kid. E-mail Suzette Martinez Standring at email@example.com. She is the author of “The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists.” Visit www.readsuzette.com.