How Do You Help Your Kids Become Good Adults?

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Photo by eyeliam; used under CC licensePhoto by eyeliam; used under CC license

Photo by eyeliam; used under CC license

Here on GeekDad, we spend a lot of time focusing on raising our kids to become geeks like us. That’s a fine and wonderful pursuit, and I can’t say I wouldn’t be disappointed if my kids grew up to eschew the geeky lifestyle. But, as important as that is to me, it’s far less important than that they are basically good people when they grow up.

Every parent, I’m sure, feels a certain amount of dread when they see an interview with the parents of someone (at whatever age) who’s committed a horrible crime. If there is something obviously dysfunctional about the criminal’s family situation, we can breathe a sigh of relief, but most often there simply isn’t. It can’t be true that every criminal had a lousy home life growing up, just as it obviously isn’t true that everyone who grows up with a lousy home life becomes a criminal. In comic books, the heroes often have just as traumatic childhoods as the villains — think about Batman and Spider-Man — and while I don’t know that I want my kids to dress up as a giant bat and obsessively fight crime, there’s probably a kernel of truth in there.

My kids are nearly-nine and seven, and they’re good kids, even if they do sometimes do things that make my wife and me want to tear our hair out (and believe me, I can ill afford to do so). We try to model the behavior we’d like to see them imitate, but it’s not always possible to see that paying off. I don’t obsess about it, but it’s hard not to wonder what my kids will be like when they grow up. If I yell at them over something relatively minor because I’m exhausted, is that going to have repercussions that won’t be felt for twenty years?

I’m genuinely interested in finding out what our readers think. What do you think your parents did or should have done to make you a good citizen? If you have older (or grown) kids, what do you think you did right, and what do you wish you’d done differently? Please leave a comment.

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