Bringing up the kids in the (fandom) faith

by Gail Z. Martin

As a parent, I know that—intentionally or unintentionally—you instill your values by example into the next generation. Your kids see what’s really important to you—by your actions more than your words.

Many parents struggle to instill their cultural heritage, religious outlook, political world view or moral compass into their offspring. But one of the things I’ve seen been consciously transmitted by fan parents to their children is the fandom bug.

Kids learn by example. They notice the kinds of books you read, the video games you play, the movies you take the family to see. Fan parents delight in sharing all of these elements with their kids . Sometimes, it becomes a rite of passage. At what age does a parent decide a child is old enough to read certain authors? Play certain video games? See particular movies? In many families, a life-long memory is created when a parent passes along their well-worn 20-sided dice to a child. “You’re old enough to have these,” the parent says. Even better, they sit down and play through the dungeon together.

I see lots of families who attend conventions together. My family attends DragonCon and Con Carolinas with me. They get to play while I’m working, and play they do. And they’re not the only ones. I see families with little kids, young parents with babies in front carriers, families with toddlers and families with college students. Sometimes, whole families will dress with a theme for masquerade. Often, kids and teens stay decked out in costume for the whole weekend. They may not always attend the same panels, but they are sharing the fandom experience, transmitting it to the next generation by example, and deepening their relationship through shared cultural touchstones.

Cross-generational fandom is a beautiful thing. And you know what? The kids are alright.

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