I recently saw such an amazing example of parenting done right that I feel the need to share it here.
I was hanging out at my regular comic shop, The Dreaming Comics and Games, in Seattle’s University District. Usually, I will end up hanging out for a few hours when I show up. On this particular Sunday it was slow in the store, so I was chatting away with Cory, the store manager. We always sit in a way that Cory can see the front door and greet people as they enter.
A woman walked in who neither of us recognized. As is usual, Cory welcomed her to the store and asked if she needed anything.
“Do you have any King Geedry figures?” she asked.
Cory paused, so I spoke up.
“Do you mean King Ghidorah, the three headed monster?”
“Maybe,” she responded. “My daughter has gotten into Godzilla. She’s outside. I wanted to check out the store before I brought her in.”
Now this mother had picked the exact right store. Aron, the store’s owner and my former roommate, is such a fan and expert on the Japanese Kaiju genre that conventions have brought him in to lead panels on the subject. So of course his store is going to have Kaiju figures.
Learning this, the woman went to get her daughter. Actually she brought in three, but it was the oldest who I would put at about nine or ten years old, that was the Godzilla fan. I happened to know that there was a deluxe King Ghidorah figure in the back part of the store. That and the fact that I am actually more of a Kaiju fan than Cory led me to help him during the family’s stay in the store.
The girl ended up exploring the store and pointing out all the Godzilla and Kaiju figures in the store, even noting that the Rodan figure behind the counter was Fire Rodan. Clearly she was a true fan.
Her mother told me that since the girl got into Godzilla, she had started sculpting figures, and had made a Rodan figure. I told her how I loved that fandom can lead to such creative outlets.
The young lady ended up spending about 20 minutes in the store with her mother. The younger siblings got bored and waited in the car and the mother would periodically check on them. In the end our young fan bought a couple of Godzilla comics and her mother got the schedule of when Aron would be in the shop so she could bring her daughter back to talk to him.
The point here to me is the many things I feel this mother did right.
First was simply encouraging her daughter’s interest. This interest had led to creative activities. Also the fact that she was not dismissing it or dissuading her daughter from pursuing a traditionally male interest.
Next was her vetting the store prior to bringing her daughters in. She made sure it was a safe and inviting environment for her children before exposing them to it. Once she brought her daughter in, she stayed engaged with us, asking about the store’s history, our history with fandom, and our knowledge of the fandom.
Finally she helped guide her daughter in making decisions about what she wanted to buy. The daughter had her own money. The mother worked with her pointing out what the budget was vs. what the price of various items were. She also reminded her daughter that items would be available later, and that Cory could special order things for her if they weren’t immediately there. In the end, she let the daughter decide to buy the comics and conduct the transaction herself.
The young lady shows all the signs that she will grow up to be a member of geek culture. I am confident that thanks to her mother’s guidance, she will grow up to be a healthy and proud member of the community.