In her book, “Bringing Up Geeks”, MaryBeth Hicks builds a strong case for raising kids outside of the pop culture bubble. She describes geeks as “Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids.” Her message is that too many of today's parents are unwilling to assert boundaries and enforce limits, for fear of alienating their child or damaging the child's social standing. She outlines a growing problem with kids watching adult movies, playing mature rated video games, and succumbing to myriad marketing ploys that target them as consumers. Social standing among kids is based more and more upon material possessions, with the latest toys and technology giving an undue amount of prestige to their owners. Though personal qualities do still matter, leaders are also judged on what game system they own, and which R rated films they have seen. Popularity, Hicks believes, is not all that it initially appears.
I enjoyed taking part in an online seminar led by MaryBeth a few months ago, and when I saw her book at the local library, I knew I had to read it. This book really reinforced many of the parenting decisions my husband and I have made, such as the limited amount of television we have allowed, and the ban on certain shows, even some intended for kids which we feel are not good influences. It also has given us pause to think about other things that we have allowed, such as online games for children, which really are designed to sell stuffed animals.
MaryBeth tells us which line of dolls is not recommended for geeky girls, what game system is the “coolest” and should probably be avoided, and how to assist your geeky child in making similar friends. She has a warm and friendly presentation style which informs but does not appear overly preachy. Anecdotes from her own family are useful examples. There are ten chapters named for her ten “geek rules”, plus an introduction and a conclusion. Rule number one is, “Raise a Brainiac”. Rule number five is “Raise a Late Bloomer”, while rule number seven is “Raise a True Friend”. Advice in chapter one includes:
Be a lifelong learner. Take a class or join a discussion group and tell your kids about it.
Let your child's interests lead the family to new experiences. Reward your child's passion for baseball cards with a trip to Cooperstown, for example. (home of the baseball Hall of Fame)
When it comes to school performance, focus on the effort, not the grade. Teach kids that grades follow effort and learning is its own reward.
As a geeky mom to four geeky kids, I am very pleased to recommend this book.