One of the coolest parts of raising children is watching them experience everything for the first time. Parents get to share in the sense of awe when their kids discover new things. But being their first teacher can be a challenge. When author Lynn Brunelle’s kids had questions about everything from ear infections to grass stains, she turned to her lifelong love of science. In her new book, Mama Gone Geek: Calling on My Inner Science Nerd to Help Navigate the Ups and Downs of Parenthood, Brunelle shares how she turned a passion for science into a powerful parenting tool and how you can, too.
KIWI: What prompted you to write Mama Gone Geek?
LB: This is really just about focusing on what you’re passionate about—and for me that’s science. The book is all about funny and crazy things that happened in my family and how I used the power of science to help us get through them. Was it always the perfect way to do things? Maybe not. But it worked for us, and maybe it will also help other parents.
KIWI: Why do you think teaching a love of science is so important?
LB: Science is part of literally everything around us! And talking about it adds that element of wonder to all you do. Even something as ordinary as eating a salad can become exciting when you start talking about how cool it is that plants make food from the sun. And then, perhaps, you move on to talk about why all organisms (including little kids!) need to eat. It’s all about curiosity: The more you look, the more you find.
KIWI: Developing curiosity is certainly a theme throughout your book. Why is curiosity an important trait for kids?
LB: The bottom line is that you want to have them thinking creatively. We are all scientific explorers and have the power to ask questions and then try to find the answers. If you cultivate a sense of curiosity early on, who knows what will happen someday. Maybe your kids are going to be the ones to ask the question “How can I stop cancer?” or “Where does Alzheimer’s come from?”
KIWI: In the book, you tend to turn to science when some- thing tricky comes up—anything from picky eating to the birds and the bees. Why?
LB: Science is universal. Just about anything can be explained by it, and it offers fascinating explanations. It can also help take the emotional factor out of things—just a bit—so you can get through a difficult conversation. It brings it down to what’s happening on a biological level. For example, one of the stories in the book is about when my son swallowed a magnet. Through talking about the science behind magnetic fields, we were both able to stay calm through something that was pretty stressful.
KIWI: What about parents who don’t have a science background? How can they make science an important part of their kids’ lives?
LB: You definitely don’t have to be an expert! It’s more about inspiring your kids to ask all sorts of questions and then seek out the answers. If you don’t know the answer, look it up together. It’s amazing when you see your kids’ brains working through problems, big or small.
Lynn Brunelle is a former writer for the television show Bill Nye the Science Guy and author of the best-selling book Pop Bottle Science. Her new book, Mama Gone Geek, comes out on October 28, 2014.