It doesn't matter if you're worried that your kid is a nerd, seems geeky, or doesn't have a lot of friends because of his or her interests, this is an uncomfortable feeling for any parent.
If your child is extremely passionate about certain fandoms that you — or their peers — have a hard time connecting to, it can be extremely difficult for both the parents and kid. As the coauthor of Geek Parenting, Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been asked numerous times how parents can help their "geeky" kids who are feeling lonely or sad. "One of the things that I think is really important is to be fully human and authentic with our kids because we always want to share our victories and our triumphs but we also need to share with them the challenges and the heartaches you've endured," Valya told POPSUGAR. "It doesn't really help your kids to think that their parents are perfect, and by opening up about a time when you were struggling will help them to feel like they aren't alone as well as also showing that you got past it and moved forward."
Once you open that line of communication, it's important to continue to show your support and foster that connection by following these eight tips.
- Embrace their interests: Don't worry about labels and let fear of what others will think of your child's interests steer what you encourage. If your child is solely intrigued by a specific comic book, instead of discouraging that passion, take interest in it while also introducing other options as a source of balance instead of shaming their original interests.
- Don't worry about your own label: Stop stressing about how other kids and parents might view your kid because of his or her interests and how that makes you look. Take the hope of being the "cool mom" off of the table and instead focus on being the best parent you can be.
- Join in where you can: Relating to your child's interest and connecting with them is key to developing a close relationship even if it's something that you really know nothing about. By investing time in at least one element such as the movie, book, or comic, you are already showing that they are not alone and have your unconditional support.
- Use their fandoms as teachable moments: These fantastic stories are filled with lessons that last the test of time. From discovering their own heroes to learning empathy at an early age, use these as major teachable moments that they can relate to.
- Understand the allure: In order to support your little one's hobby, it's important to understand why they turn to these characters. For many, they're looking for an escape, a distraction, or comfort, and these fandoms that other kids don't relate to become their source of adventure and new experiences.
- Help them find their people: Explain that it's not the number of friends but the quality of those relationships. Once they foster one friendship with a child who shares the same interest, it becomes that much easier to add another to the group and identify another child who could also benefit from a friend.
- Focus on helping them find their authentic selves: Teach them by example to stay true to who they are and to pursue their passions even if it makes them different than their peers. Be honest with them that being comfortable with who they really are is extremely difficult but also essential to being truly happy.
- Don't forget about the importance of time unplugged: This isn't as a punishment or to get them away from the online world if that's where they are most comfortable, it's because boredom is also an essential part of childhood that shouldn't be overlooked. This gives children a chance to spark their own imaginations and exercise their creativity by dreaming up their own new worlds. This ability to think outside of the box will be an important asset as they get older.