While I have been a geek much longer than I have been a parent, there are moments when I have to remind myself that I am a parent. While I have a ready list of comic books to suggest to parents, there are times when someone might ask for a recommendation and then I give them a few and then they tell me that it's for their 12 year old nephew.
I read a large amount of independent titles along with Image. Most of these titles are edgy and for mature readers. While I enjoy these titles so much, I am careful to recommend them. They are not for the faint of heart. My oldest son, who is now 21, has never lived with us. He was raised by his pentacostal mother who at times could be very strict but then be much more liberal than I could ever be. So while my son had strict curfews, she allowed him to run the gamut when it came to entertainment.
I remember one evening on the phone when he was about 14, he recommended “Preacher.” I assumed that I have read everything from the Vertigo line, but somehow “Preacher” missed my radar, so I was a late comer to that story. I loved it. As an atheist, it was right up my alley but I will admit that it was borderline blasphemous (I am honestly shocked that they are planning to make this into a movie). At that moment I had forgotten my parent hat. Wait, what was my 14 yeard old doing reading “Preacher?” On top of that, did his mother approve of this? This is the time of the internet and oftentimes, children will have access to things that we parents might never even know about.
In our day, no matter how well we hid our secret stash, ma dukes would find it. They were physical and tangible objects that took up space. We were bound to get caught since we only had to slip one time. Nowadays, a porn stash and hentai books can fit in a thumb drive that we would need a password to hack into it. So if he got away with it, shout out to the young G. Still, “Preacher” deals with some heavy themes.
I am a huge fan of Octavia Butler, but I am hesitant to recommend it for children. Butler dealt with difficult themes along with intersectionality. Her work bites hard and is revolutionary on every conceivable level. I want my children to be readers of her. At that moment with my oldest, I felt it was time for me to introduce him to her. He taught me a valuable lesson that day.
The first is that each parent knows his or her child. I know my children. I know what they like and what they are ready for. So while I might recommend some dope comics for them, they might not dig it and really enjoy something else. My middle son enjoys manga. That's how he gets down. That is totally outside of my lane so I should seek ideas from manga readers.
Second is that no parents are created equal. Some parents really engage their children when it comes to pop culture. Some might be in the middle. Others might just let their children roll how they want. My mother had no clue what I was doing reading comics but she saw that it kept me off the streets, so she supported my comic book habit. She had no clue what I was talking about when my brother and I would geek out. Every parent gets down differently. That is also okay.
Finally, we have to give our children the benefit of the doubt. As a parent, mentor, and educator, I have learned that children surpass every standard we set for them. They will get concepts that are completely over our heads. We have to stop assuming that they might not get something.
I hope this post helps. It's something that's been on my mind for the last few days. Today was the opportunity for me to put it out. You know your child better than anyone else. You know their perks and what they dig. You know how they get down. So while a comic might have that Mature rating, one never knows how they will grow from that.