Raising Your Young Geek

Raising Your Young Geek

Some of my earliest memories are of this movie. I had to have been five when I saw it for the first time. The most recent viewing was last month. It's on heavy rotation around here.
Some of my earliest memories are of watching The Last Unicorn. I had to have been five when I saw it for the first time. The most recent viewing was last month. It’s on heavy rotation around here.

A few weeks ago, I was playing with my daughter, who is on the brink of turning four.

“Come here you little demon,” I said.

“I’m not a demon! You’re a demon!” she shrieked before pulling an imaginary sword and shouting “WINDSCAR!!!”

Yup. I got full on Inuyasha-ed by a four year old pixie child.

Raising children as a Geek means forging into unknown territory, at least for me. I’m a natural born geek myself, but I’m one of the few in my family. My older siblings introduced me to Star Wars, and discovered Trek thanks to friends at school. I found my own way into SFF fiction along the way, with help from teachers and other friends.

So figuring out raising kids and passing along the love of these things is a new field for both my husband and I. We’re a multi-fandom household: we love both Star Wars and Star Trek (and Star Gate, for that matter) and we have watched the original Star Wars trilogy with my older daughter, who finishes Kindergarten this week.

We’ve argued playfully over whether or not we will introduce the prequel trilogy… ever. She’s a mature six, so she watches (slightly curated) episodes of Star Gate: SG-1 with her Dad. We watched Avatar: The Last Airbender at an early age, and are now working our way through Inuyasha and Yu-Gi-Oh!.

This scene is probably responsible for more SSRI prescriptions than any other in the history of film.

I tend more towards the Fantasy side of things myself, so we’ve had many a viewing of The Last Unicorn at our house. Big sis loves Labyrinth as well; little sis at four still finds it too scary. My husband suggested that we watch The Neverending Story, and I vetoed it. When asked why, I had only one thing to say:


“Oh, right. Yeah. We’ll wait on that.”

As the school year closes, the kindergartner has clicked on reading, and I am having a hard time holding back from burying her in the mountain of books I want her to read.

All of this is a very long introduction to something I want to spend more time talking about in this space: parenting while geeking. And writing while parenting. I know for a fact I’m not the only parent in here, but a lot of the time I feel like we keep these spheres separate, as if the literature we love and the kids we hope to raise are two different questions. They aren’t, of course: I want to raise girls who love stories, and it’s up to me to pick the kinds of stories they are exposed to. I want them to love tabletop gaming so we can play together as a family, when the time comes that just talking is difficult.

In short, being a geek is a big part of who I am, and so is being a mother. So let’s talk about that. How does your love for fantasy and science fiction affect your parenting? What are the first movies and books you introduced your kids to, if you have them? And what’s the hardest part of combining the two?

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John ONeill

My kids are in college now, so it’s a little hard to remember all the details, but we definitely started the kids on animated films (ALADDIN and HERCULES were the big favorites… can you tell my first two kids were boys?)

Also hugely popular in the pre-school era: Power Rangers. Virtually forgotten today, they were much discussed and enjoyed. THE POWER RANGERS MOVIE (a film I have seen 673 times) starts to achieve a certain profound transcendental truth around about the 300th viewing.

Also popular were The Beatleborgs, a Power Rangers knock off.

I successfully introduced my kids to two huge influences from my own childhood: Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot, and Abbott and Costello. My kids watched every Abbott and Costello film they could get their hands on. They didn’t even seem to mind that they were in black & white. (That’s the kiss of death these days…. when Alice and I pick a b&w film, the kids bail for the evening).


If she likes the Last Unicorn, you might consider the Adventures of Unico also. The second film, “Isle of Magic”, is more epic than any star wars prequel. You can get them both together in DVD or Blu Ray.

[…] STARTING YOUNG. Thoughts on child rearing by Elizabeth Cady in “Raising Your Young Geek” at Black […]


The way I see it, the main point in raising kids is to have these impressionable little people utterly dependent on you to tell them, before anyone else can, what’s truly cool and what’s not.

I began watching the old Toho kaiju movies (e.g., Mothra, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidora the Three-Headed Monster) with my daughter when she was 4. (She’s now 6.) She also loves King Kong, Labyrinth, Jason and the Argonauts, and John Huston’s Moby Dick (!). I guess she likes things with giant monsters.

My 8yo son likes sci-fi more; we watch Star Trek (TOS, of course), and he’s also very fond of Forbidden Planet, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He also loves the Errol Flynn Robin Hood and The Hidden Fortress. I haven’t watched Star Wars with them yet because I’m a crank who wants the undoctored versions. I guess I’ll break down sometime. (Of course the prequels aren’t even mentioned in our house.)

I have a routine of reading to them for about half an hour each evening. We recently finished The Hobbit. They were so enthralled with it that we listened to the audiobook version on a long car trip immediately after, and now my son is reading it on his own. Out of all the books we’ve read, my daughter’s favorite is probably A Wrinkle in Time, which we’ve gotten through twice now.

As for games, we’re currently working through Final Fantasy IV. Cecil just became a paladin.


Elizabeth, Unico was nightmare fuel for me as well, but my morbid little self loved it anyway. 😀 I suppose I can’t recommend “Legend” or “The Dark Crystal” for you either.


I have a memory of my daughter happily playing with Atreyu and Falcor in our back garden some 15 years ago – perhaps more. She was, at the oldest, four and was very fond of The Neverending Story. I don’t recall her being upset by the death of Artax. I think young children can be very resilient and, sometimes, the upsetting bits just wash over them. I wouldn’t hesitate to show The Neverending Story to a four year old. Fast forward to when she was ten and I took her to see Bridge to Terabithia. I knew the outcome of the story but refused to tell her. She was noticeably upset when Leslie died and was very quiet on leaving the cinema. Then she read the book and wept buckets. Both film and book remained firm favourites with her for many years and, I suspect, she will return to them in adult life, (she’s now 19). I doubt she will be too bothered about The Neverending Story, though. Neil

Sarah Avery

My older kid once refused to go on a Cub Scout camping trip because (1) the troop planned to go to a baseball game the next day, and baseball doesn’t count as a “nerd sport,” and (2) the trip conflicted with Balticon, and SF/F cons are more important than scouting. He’s 8, and a bit rigid in his thinking about his geek identity.

He and his brother, age 5, like to inspect the booksellers’ tables in the dealers’ rooms to see who has their mommy’s books. When they spot one of mine, they break into a victory dance, often with singing. They genuinely believe I’m famous. When I protest that I’m not, they insist that I should at least want to be famous. I haven’t explained to them that this is not a safe time for the children of famous women SF/F writers (or, for that matter, the children of women who express opinions online about anything at all), so my lack of fame is probably to their benefit.

They’re both tenderhearted and bloodthirsty, depending on whether they’ve decided a character is good or bad. Grays are very hard for them to accept. They took the loss of a major character in the new Star Wars movie very hard, especially because of the sabotaged relationship between the decedent and the character who did the deed. When a beloved character dies, they fixate for weeks on what problem solving might have saved them.

My favorite example is their recent fixation on Hamilton. Couldn’t Alexander have outrun he bullet? No. Run away before Burr shot him? Well, the whole point of a duel is that they thought they were proving their righteous manliness by standing there to be shot at. It’s a cultural thing. So my boys decide to save Alexander Hamilton by building a time machine so they can make pistol dueling unfashionable before the election of 1800 rolls around and persuade people to engage in pie-eating contests instead when they must have satisfaction.

Time travel paradoxes with pie are way better than ones with baby Hitler. Just saying.

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