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Uncle CHiN

Dear Uncle CHiN,

My 14-year-old boy doesn’t seem to want to try anything new. He’s content to sit around reading sci-fi novels and playing the guitar. Is it just a phase? Should I insist that he "do something"?

Signed, Not Sure

Dear Not,

I am sure that you know from both your experiences as a parent and from your own experiences as a human being, people go through different phases of growth and assimilation, risk and retreat, energy and rest. Your son may be in a phase of rest and renewal before he leaps into a more energetic life phase; or he may be in a very active phase, trying to perfect his music skills while expanding his mind with science fiction.

Either way, you might take comfort from the knowledge that musical intelligence is a valid (and, by the way, quite mathematical) form of intelligence; you might take comfort from the idea that reading anything will tend to develop reading and vocabulary skills and will give background necessary for good writing; reading fiction (and biographies) often gives food for thought about social relationships and tends to nurture empathy (reading fiction is good practice for “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”); and reading good science fiction can—believe it or not—teach a lot about science facts and help develop the wondering, speculating part of scientific thinking.

Finally, your own role could include not only listening to your son when (and if) he wants to discuss his interests, and supporting him when (and if) he asks for help, but also continuing to make available to him other opportunities and activities, and being a good model, one who has interests and actively follows those interests.

Good Luck! Uncle CHiN


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