[T]hroughout human history, we’ve looked to heroes. Before we had Superman, Batman, Captain America and Wonder Woman we had Gilgamesh, Hercules, and Achilles. But aside from the pantheon of heroes in our folklore and our mythologies, there are other heroes to whom we all look up the most in our formative years… Our parents. While our teenage selves would never have admitted it, we all admired (and even envied) our parents growing up. All the quotidian empowerments that come with adulthood from being able to drive the family car to be able to see an R rated movie at the theatre seemed mysterious and compelling to us. They were our models for adulthood and all the powers and responsibilities that adulthood brought with it.
And, in the end, isn’t that what superhero stories are all about? Teaching developing young minds on how to use the emerging power of adulthood responsibly? We all flood to the movies every time a new Marvel or DC film comes out for the action and the spectacle, but also because we love to see good win out over bad. It’s a tale we can never quite get enough of, whatever our age. As parents, whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, we serve as models of adulthood to our kids. We teach them how to wield the mysterious powers of adulthood in a way that will not only lead them to live happily and fulfilled lives, but will teach them to make a positive contribution to their community and our society. As such, there are some behaviors that all parents, especially single parents should try and model to be superheroes in the eyes of their kids…
Being a Superhero – Teach Them the Value of Inner Strength
We all turn up to the movies to see the Avengers or the Justice League beat up the bad guys and save the day. But while these are fun fantasies for action movies, our kids need to realize that there are many different kinds of strength and that in the real world you can never punch and kick your way out of problems. Instead, show them the value of inner strength. Show them how no matter what life throws at you (and, indeed, whatever your kids throw at you), you’ll keep your calm and stand your ground. Show them that no matter what adversities you face, you’ll never let them get you down or let them stop you from being the best parent that you can be.
Sure, kids will always have the *“my Dad’s stronger than your Dad”* debates, but displaying this kind of inner strength will mean that your kids won’t have to argue with their peers about whose Dad is strongest… They’ll already know.
And you won’t even have to get into fist fights with other Dads to prove it.
Perform an Act of Kindness Every Day, and Encourage Them to Do the Same
Acts of kindness make up the vast majority of a parent’s day. Every morning, afternoon and evening bring with it an opportunity to do something nice for your kids, spoil them in some small way and show them you love them. But your kids should see that your acts of kindness aren’t limited to them. Superheroes carry out acts of kindness every day. They don’t do it for praise or adulation. Indeed, some superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman are even vilified within their respective universes. They do it simply because it’s the right thing. In a world where selfishness and vanity seem to be tolerated, even vaunted by society, it’s great to show kids the importance of doing something nice for someone else, even if it’s a stranger. Let them see you performing acts of kindness, get them to assist you and encourage them to show kindness to their teachers and other kids in school. Not sure where to start? This site has some great ideas!
Never Show Them Bitterness and Resentment, Especially When it Comes to Your Ex
Many single parents can fall into the trap of bitterness and let their negative feelings towards their former partners poison their minds. Keep in mind that your Ex-partner is also your co-parent, whether you’re on speaking terms with them or not. Paint your ex as a supervillain in the minds of your child and it will toxify their relationship… And that simply isn’t fair. No matter how you have been wronged by your ex or how legitimate your feelings of hurt, anger or betrayal may be, your child deserves better than that.
Show your child that you’re prepared to be polite and amicable with your ex even if you can never be friends. Although custody battles can be arduous and finding the right family lawyer can be hard; if you haven’t decided upon one yet check out this link to learn more, you need to look past your personal feelings and focus on what’s best for your children. After all, the way in which we treat those who have wronged us is the true mark of a hero!
Don’t be Afraid to Show Vulnerability
Paradoxically, our heroes are at their most compelling when they are vulnerable. We can’t identify with a character who wins the daytime after time, no matter what obstacles are put in their direction. Superman is at his most compelling when he encounters Kryptonite, and in the comic books, Iron Man’s greatest battle has been with alcoholism rather than The Mandarin. It’s okay for your kids to see that you’re vulnerable; that you can be hurt, angered and saddened. What you can teach them in times of hardship and adversity is that you can rise up time after time. The measure of a hero is not in their infallibility but in their ability to pick themselves up after a fall.
Being a superhero in the eyes of your kids isn’t about being bigger, stronger or wealthier than other Dads. It’s in the way you use the trials that life throws your way as opportunities to teach your children valuable lessons that will forge both them and you into better people!
Contributed post. Feature image via Pixabay.