Yesterday, Google's alert service let me know that a blogger had written a review of my parenting book "Bringing Up Geeks," released last summer by Penguin/Berkley. In case you haven't read it, the premise of the book is that we ought to raise geeky children for success in life, and not for popularity in the seventh grade. These goals generally are mutually exclusive.
The blogger liked my premise. She liked my acronym for "GEEKs" - Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids. She liked my 10 foolproof rules for raising innocent, wholesome children, such as "Raise a Sheltered Kid" and "Raise a Kid Adults Like." She felt affirmed, encouraged and uplifted. All in all, a great review.
Yet I was troubled to find a paragraph in this blogger's review encouraging nonreligious readers to dismiss out of hand one aspect of my geeky parenting strategy, raising a faithful child. "Nonreligious readers should probably avoid Rule 10, because it talks about the importance of spirituality in a child's life ... and how that helps them cope with some of the stresses of being a 'geek.' "
First, it's just unsettling that a reviewer would essentially offer, "If you don't agree with something, don't read an opposing point of view." Gosh, this explains a lot about our current political environment, doesn't it?
Moreover, I'm saddened that the suggestion of raising faithful children can so easily be ignored without even considering the consequences to children.
To be clear, I don't evangelize any specific faith tradition in the book and I'm emphatic about that point. Here's what I said: "This book does not advocate a particular faith expression." Pretty straightforward, right?
Rather, my premise is that all the best research confirms that children are spiritual by nature - they crave answers about God and about the universe (How did God make mosquitoes? Why did God make my little brother?) - and they are naturally open to teaching about religion and spirituality.
In his seminal book "The Spiritual Life of Children," Dr. Robert Coles, a child psychiatrist and a Harvard professor, concluded that his life's work helped him to "see children as seekers, as young pilgrims well aware that life is a finite journey and as anxious to make sense of it as those of us who are farther along in the time allotted us." Dr. Coles concluded that soul-searching and a sense of spirituality exist from a young age in virtually everyone.