It was the Christmas of 1982, and my boys were 10 and 12 years old.
I didn’t think twice about what to give them. It just seemed like a great idea at the time – identical Commodore 64 personal computers. The C64 was one of the first PCs ever made. The computer itself was integrated with the keyboard housing. All you had to do was hook it to a monitor. Even though it became the best-selling PC of all time, by today’s standards it was a primitive piece of hardware. It had only 64,000 bytes of memory (today’s PCs have 30,000 times as much memory).
To my delight, the computers were a big hit. Before long, my sons had traded with their friends to get copies of every video game produced at the time. When they got tired of the games, they learned how to use a basic programming software so they could create their own programs. They became obsessed with how computers work and they learned one programming language after the other.
This relentless effort stimulated the brain cells in their prefrontal cortex to connect into circuits. By the time they were were grown, both of them had established vastly expansive and robust foundations for critical thinking. And since that wiring is physical in the brain, it’s permanent.
Everything they’ve learned since is built on that foundation. My oldest son earned a Ph.D. in computer science and has had a varied career as an IT executive. My youngest son became a brilliant software engineer who has created several highly successful bleeding-edge “killer app” programs that are used world-wide.
The thing is, they didn’t know they were wiring their adolescent brains. Obviously, I didn’t know anything about the brain either. Like all other parents of my generation, I couldn’t have told you the difference between the prefrontal cortex and a hot rock. I wasn’t consciously trying to give them a “superior mind.” I wouldn’t write that book until 30 years later.
No, I just got lucky as a young parent (and so did they) when I gave them those computers for Christmas.
Of course, most parents and their teens don’t get lucky like that.
This is why I wrote the ebook, How to Give Your Teen a Superior Mind – to take luck out of the equation. It includes excerpts of the most important insights and strategies from a larger book I’m writing for parents who want to give their teens a huge advantage as they prepare to be happy, successful adults.
The ebook is available right now as a free download on the website, StrongForParenting.com.