I’m not a parent, admittedly. But as a fast fact, my MA is concentrated in Family Studies (which is almost amusing, if you know me for any length of time in real life). What I’m saying, while I’m not in child psych I’m also not exactly unaware of the functioning of the pre-adult brain.
I know that each child has a different capacity for fear, and exposure to fear is something that needs to be gauged against the individual kid and factors like age and material. However, as I’ve said on this blog before, I really cringe whenever I hear parents talk about how they don’t want to let their kid access even mild horror because it’s going to do something horrible to their development.
Done right, no, it won’t. It might even land them an MA down the line.
No, really. My senior capstone for my BA was on Hellraiser. The realization that real adults with real adult jobs study pop culture-which meant I could study monster movies and figure things about Society and People was one of those mind-blowing experiences that ends up reshaping a kid’s entire reality.
The book that actually got me into sociology and academics was Stranger in a Strange Land. Heinlein might seem like an odd choice but as a kid growing up in conservative, exceptionally rural Upstate New York these were thought patterns I had never come across before. And I wanted to know it. All of it.
I got to Heinlein and therefore by extension higher ed through books like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Goosebumps, and Christopher Pike. By the end of my high school career I was reading everything that I could get my hands on-and yes, scaring the beejesus out of my myself-and thinking. Don’t let anyone fool you. If your kid is thinking in odd but not damaging ways-let them. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t get to where they are by thinking in purely straight line paths.
It might require some work. You might have to have some conversations. There might be books your kid comes across that’s too much for them-too old, or too dense, or too scary. But they’re building bridges to places you haven’t even dreamed of yet. So be a parent-and let them read.
Horror Confessions: I was the kid sneaking Steven King and thinking I was getting away with it-and it got me a Masters.