Inspiring My Kids Through Example

Cross-posted to projects for a dad: I think that Kevin Kelly really put his finger on something when he talks about the models we provide for our children. After all, whatever my children see me doing is what they feel is “normal”, or “expected” for an adult. So if I’m writing and performing drama or if I’m carving pumpkins or spending time coding on the computer, my kids on some subliminal level will feel this is a “cool” adult activity.

Science fiction author Neal Stephenson mentioned this first to Kelly when he note an unfinished kayak under a tarp. He said he was slowly working on it, in part to mentor his kids, even though they did no work on the boat, nor express the least bit of interest in this project. None-the-less he continued puttering on the undertaking while they were home. Stephenson said when he was a kid, his dad was constantly tinkering on some garage project or another, and despite Neal’s complete indifference for any of his dad’s enthusiasms at the time, he was influenced by this embedded tinkering. It was part of the family scene, part of his household, like mealtime style, or the pattern of interactions between siblings. Later on when Neal did attempt to make stuff on his own, the pattern was right at hand. It felt comfortable, easy. Without having to try very hard, he knew how to be a nerd.

So as Kevin Kelly notes, Neal continued the tradition in the faith that while his kids showed no outward enthusiasm for his weekend projects, and didn’t pick up a tool to help, they were being trained and coached in a subterranean way.

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