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
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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