Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How to Encourage Your Kids to be Catholic Geeks

It was an early Fall morning when I curled up on the couch with my toddler as the newborn slept close by. Time for Morning Prayer! I announced, pulling out my breviary. In the past, when I've announced the beginning of Morning Prayer, my toddler has eagerly fetched a Bible and sat next to me on the couch, paging through Scripture. This morning, however, was different. As I prayed the Psalms and Canticle, he paged through a video game book next to me. 

"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel..."


Yes, as I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours, my toddler was pointing out pictures of various Pok√©mon on the pages of his book. This is a child who can spout off a list of video game characters and a litany of saints. This is a child who will chant sections from the Eucharistic Prayer or the Gloria as he walks around the house, but then he'll sit with my husband and chant "Go Peach!" as he watches a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. This is a child who swings a Wii remote around like it's a thurible, recites part of the Confiteor as he pulls out a video game book to read, and sits on the floor surrounded by prayer books and comic books. This child is a Catholic Geek. 

Perhaps you have a young Catholic Geek in your home. He or she may not always pursue geeky interests, but for now, your child may bounce between a few different fandoms with enthusiasm. As parents, it is our responsibility and honor to care for our children. Part of this duty involves helping their devotion to God and budding geekiness flourish.  But how on Middle-Earth are we supposed to do this? 

1. Set the example. 

You can't force your child to fall in love with the Faith or geeky pursuits, but you can encourage a love for Our Lord and enthusiasm for various fandoms through your own authentic Catholic geekiness. Let your love for God and prayer shine forth in your home, and don't hide your passion for Star Wars. Children are really good at observing and learning from others, and they will learn from your passion. 

2. Fill your calendar with liturgical and geeky celebrations. 

Really though, rootleaf stew is good any time of the year. 
We have an incredible treasure in the liturgical calendar. With days of feasting and fasting,  saints and events in Christ's life, and in traditions that have been passed down through the centuries, we have a myriad of ways to naturally center our lives on God and reflect on Him. Not only can we cultivate a love for the liturgical year, but we can also bring geeky celebrations into our homes as well. Celebrate the Triumph of the Cross on September 14-but then pull out your most hobbit-y attire and food to celebrate Hobbit Day on September 22. Celebrate St. Joseph the Worker to begin the month of May, and then simmer a big pot of rootleaf stew to celebrate Star Wars Day later that week. Don't let your faith or your fandoms be pushed into the corner of a pew or the page of a comic book; joyfully bring them into your everyday life. 

3. Let Catholic Geekiness into your closets.

While you don't have to literally let your geekiness into the wardrobe by donning a huge fur coat a la the Pevensie children, you can let Faith and fun impact your style. Select various Catholic apparel--shirts, skirts, shoes, jewelry, you name it--for your (and your childrens') clothing needs. You can also draw from the variety of geeky shirts, pants, baby onesies, and dresses out there. Show your children that a cool bow tie and a scapular are not mutually exclusive. In overt and subtle ways, allow Catholic geekiness to manifest itself in the outfits that you and your children put together. 

4. Make a joyful noise. 
There is a rich heritage of sacred music in the history of the Catholic church, and we would do well to explore it ourselves and share it with our children. Put on some calming chant as you rise in the morning or wind down in the evening. Bounce to some peppy praise & worship music as you do chores together. We can also introduce our children to the wealth of geeky music that is out there. Put on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack as you make dinner, dance to the Spider-Man theme song as you help the kids get their wiggles out, and listen to "Zelda's Lullaby" from The Legend of Zelda as you pace the floor with a newborn. 

5. Pack your bookshelves appropriately.

There are many benefits to having a home library, and by stocking your shelves with religious books, you can help your child learn about the Faith. Furthermore, by letting geeky  books into the home library, you can introduce your child to various superheroes and literary characters. In our home, comic books sit right alongside books about Catholicism, and it's been a great way for my toddler to learn about fictional heroes, like Link, and real-life heroes, like Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

6. Watch shows together.
All families deal with screen time differently, and if you do happen to be a family who allows screen time, you can include offerings that speak to the message of Catholic Geekiness. You can pick from a variety of religious programs to watch with your child, or select family movies that feature saints and/or Catholicism. And while some geeky shows and movies are decidedly not kid-appropriate, several fantastic options are available, from the original Star Wars trilogy to the anime Bananya (which is literally about cats who live in bananas) and the 1960s Batman TV show.

7. Do fun activities as a family. 
Even though there's redemptive suffering and trials, being a Catholic is pretty fun. Being a geek is pretty enjoyable, too. So, as a family, celebrate the awesomeness of being Catholic-host All Saints Day parties and attend cool events like relic displays. But, also revel in the beauty of being geeks-play games together (or let your toddlers run around while you and your friends role-play a bunch of mice in Mouse Guard) and take your kids to conventions and geeky events.
Streaming the new Mario Party as a family on my husband's Twitch channel!

As parents, we receive such a tremendous gift as we watch our children learn and grow. It was an exciting moment for me when my toddler learned how to genuflect; and I was filled with pride when he could differentiate between pictures of Dr. Doom and the Hulk in his Avengers comic book. Embracing life in both Catholic and geeky ways is really awesome and very beautiful. In our rather grim world, we need joyful Catholics who aren't afraid to be passionately in love with God. 

Love God, love your spouse, and love your kids. 
Go forth and be a Catholic Geek. 

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