In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 13, 2005 /3 Shevat, 5765

The hard work of bringing up geeks

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Family night at school comes to its usual end. Children run amok in the gym while parents cluster in circles, holding outerwear for the entire family in a feat known as being a human coat rack.

In this mayhem, I find myself buried under a load of jackets, chatting with another mom. We're making idle small talk about the vagaries of parenting.

At some point in the conversation, I allow as how my children are geeks. I can't honestly recall why I say this, but it's true. I know it. They know it. Everyone who knows them knows it. We're OK with that.

This mom, however, is shocked. "Oh, no," she comforts me. "Your kids are very popular   —   really." She's telling me this as though A) I don't know what it means to be popular and B) I want my children to be popular. (I don't).

I argue the point   —   with a smile, of course   —   but I get it pretty quickly that she thinks I am insulting my own children.

"It's OK," I explain. "We like that our kids are geeks." I mean, as long as I'm comfortable with it, why isn't she?

"That just isn't true," she insists. Now she's getting upset with me. This is absurd. What started as a punch line is turning into a discussion about popularity and social status in children. With the load of jackets on my arms, I'm starting to sweat.

I make excuses and a hasty exit, unloading my coat collection as we head out the door. All the while, I'm wondering why it was so important to that mom that my children be popular. What's wrong with bringing up geeks? We're doing it on purpose   —   and quite successfully, I might add.

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The fact is, raising unpopular children takes effort. You spend a lot more time than you might think thwarting the path to a robust social life in the fast lane. Are we sadistically imposing a miserable youth on our offspring, just for the sport of it? Heck no.

We subscribe to the "late bloomer" philosophy, which holds that children who reach the pinnacle of social status by middle school are more at risk. We're eliminating some of the risk with strategic parenting decisions. It takes planning, and it helps to start early   —   say, in preschool. If you do, you'll be assured a geeky child in middle school and beyond.

For example, when you enroll little Susie or Bobby in preschool, you'll be asked to volunteer for a parent committee. This is a key decision. Whatever you do, don't sign up to plan the class parties. This will put you with the parents of cool, popular children and, by association, your child will be hanging with the A-list before she knows the entire alphabet.

Instead, volunteer for a geek job that involves preschool governance. Write the bylaws for the board. Work on the strategic plan. Best of all, offer to write a grant proposal. You'll be working with just one or two other geek moms and dads, whose children will become your son's or daughter's fast friends. Now you've got the ball rolling.

Before your child gets too old   —   say, by age 5   —   teach him or her to play chess. Also, watch the History Channel together. You just can't beat World War II for geek development.

Once your child learns to read, get him or her to read the newspaper. Also, explain the political process and talk about the headlines over dinner. This assures that your child will answer all the current-events questions in fourth-grade social studies   —   the sign of a geek in the making.

Next   —   and this is important   —   make sure your child is comfortable talking to adults. Geek preteens actually are more comfortable talking to the parents of their peers than to their contemporaries.

When your son or daughter chats about the presidential election cycle while riding home from soccer practice, parents will be impressed. They'll mention to their more popular offspring that they're impressed with your child's political savvy. When they do, your risk factors will slide like horn-rimmed glasses on an adolescent nose.

Through the years, you'll have plenty of chances to promote the geek within your child   —   academic bowl teams, Scout ceremonies, religious milestones. When these events come up, encourage your child to really get into the spirit of the thing. This will keep the cool crowd at a healthy, risk-free distance.

By middle school, all of these tricks will have created a reputation for geekiness that repels invitations to high-risk social functions. You won't need to argue about whether he or she will go to make-out parties, booze bashes and R-rated flicks. That's because there's virtually no chance a teen who reads historical fiction or collects stamps will be invited.

Is it lonely to be a geek? Sure, sometimes, but only for a while. Eventually, your strategy will pay off as your child gravitates to other geeks, who will spend their time together doing safe, geeky things. (Chess club, anyone?)

The trick is to do what we do in our house   —   be geeky together, as a family. If you cop a sense of humor about your true selves, it's cool.

Of course, if it ever really does become cool to be a geek, we're in trouble.

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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 17 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.

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© 2005, Marybeth Hicks