Raising Nerd Kids

It was an issue we had to address before we left the states. We looked at it from every angle. But all we could see was high-water pants, bowl hair cuts, and a serious lack of social skills. Yeah, we’re talking about missionary kids.

We had to admit that we were sincerely jeopardizing our kids cool factor by taking them out of the suburbs they had grown up in. Like all wild animals, we knew that it would be impossible to return them to their natural habitat once they grew accustomed to living elsewhere. What would happen to our free thinking, long haired, trash talking boys in a super conservative Christian school? And, would they ever be able to relate to their own kind again? Were our kids doomed to a lifetime of wearing too-short shorts and tucked in polos? Would they ever know pop culture and hip music? Or would they become hopelessly enthralled with mariachi and entangled in the tawdry stories of the telenovelas? Who could say. It was a risk we would have to take.

14 months into our Latin American life, I can tell you this much: My children are the coolest missionary kids I have ever met. True, they are different from other kids their age. They know that a visa is not a credit card, they complain in two languages, and they occasionally ask about the current exchange rate. But, at the same time they are remarkably “normal” – they’re obsessed with video games, they wish they could eat McDonalds three times a day, and they use borderline bad words (“freakin”, “hecka” , and “what the crap”) when they think I can’t hear them.

It seems they’ve struck a balance. They are neither spoiled material driven suburbanites, nor ultra unrelateable religious freaks. They have learned to walk the line between the pleated polyester school uniforms they wear in the morning and the plaid chinos they change into each afternoon. They are learning Romans 12:18 by living it. “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
I may be raising nerd kids, kids that take an interest in foreign policy, kids that have opinions about creation vs intelligent design, kids that don’t have access to the newest electronics or hottest playlists. But, if that means that they are growing into men who will be able to hold tightly to their convictions while also being peacemakers in the world around them, I am more than satisfied.



  1. Britany on October 21, 2008 at 12:26 am

    I was just brushing my teeth when it came to me… the name of the book you are going to write. The Cussing Missionary. Do you like it?

  2. Jamie Wright on October 21, 2008 at 7:07 am

    you’re too funny!

  3. CA RN to Honduras Missionary on October 22, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Amen sista! You preach it!

  4. mikepettengill on October 22, 2008 at 9:47 am

    nice blog entry…I shall be stealing the idea in the very near future…the nerd factor in my house is MUCH higher

  5. leaking crazy on May 25, 2010 at 9:01 am

    i've got myself 3 nerd kids, too. and i think i prefer who they are now to who they would have been all comfy like in the states.

  6. Julie on September 17, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    My husband and I have always been worried about this for our as-of-yet-non-existent-kids. Before we left for Nicaragua we asked several missionary kids or parents of these kids about this precise topic and they all acted as though they didn't know what we were talking about…thanks for just being real about it.

  7. Anonymous on February 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    They just sound Homeschooled but I think that is cool

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