Super Lessons from Superheroes
Besides being the subject matter for hundreds of books and movies, superheroes also provide us with storylines that parents can use to redirect, inspire, and support their children. Imagine how powerful it would be to discuss the virtues of a superhero to help guide your children as they navigate the twists and turns of growing up? We’re sharing a few common sources for childhood stress and how a superhero story can lift them up.
Problem: Feeling like an outcast
Superhero Solution: Chat with your child about X-men. The X-men are famous for not fitting in. Born with odd and alienating superpowers, these misfits each found a way to contribute to their communities (and the world) by capitalizing on their unique talents. Almost every single superhero has felt like they didn’t belong, yet every one of them used that as inspiration to overcome those feelings and succeed. Let your children know they are one-of-a-kind and that their special qualities set them apart. To quote a famous children’s author, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Problem: Feeling bullied
Superhero Solution: Spiderman began his young life as an orphan who was bullied in high school. Peter Parker often felt lonely and isolated, yet he eventually found his superpower and used it wisely. Once he reached his potential and became more confident, Peter excelled. The message here is that “good things take time, and that patience and self-acceptance are very important. Talk to your children about how every single day they are growing, changing, and learning. Share with them that, “Nobody gets it right the first time when they try something new. Good things take time…slow down and go easy on yourself.”
Problem: Feeling marginalized as a girl
Superhero Solution: Wonder Woman is blessed with strength and focus. She was probably one of the most famous of the early feminists. Diana (Wonder Woman) risked the comfort of what she knew to explore lofty goals. Encourage your daughters by citing other famous women who overcame sexism to lead, invent, educate, and change the world. From historical superheroes like British Queens to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Maya Angelou, Anne Frank, Greta Thunberg, and Kamala Harris—all prove that once a girl sets her mind on a goal, she can succeed as a woman.
Problem: Grieving the loss of a family member, friend, or pet
Superhero Solution: Many superheroes have a back story that includes the loss of someone they loved. Batman, (Bruce Wayne) Spiderman (Peter Parker), and Superman (Clark Kent) all experienced great loss, but emerged stronger, driven by their passion to honor a loved one and to make them proud. All these stories are very relatable for kids processing loss and just might inspire them to use their sadness to accomplish great things. Be sure to let your children know that it’s okay to feel sad and that the best way to honor a lost loved one is by leading a great life. Use these feelings as a way to start discussions about strength, kindness, trying their best, and working hard to achieve goals—all things that would make anyone who loves them—living or not—proud.
Problem: Experiencing the sting of prejudice
Superhero Solution: Ask your child to think about their favorite superheroes—do they look like other people or do they look different? Next, ask your child to imagine a world where everyone looked and acted the same—pretty boring, right? People often display prejudice because they are uncomfortable with what they don’t know and have a lack of experience with those who don’t look or act like they do. Use this as a platform for discussion with your kids about how to bridge the gaps between themselves and others.
I’ll close by saying that you should always remind your kids the real superhero is their own reflection in the mirror. Love your children, mentor them, and communicate your pride and support. We’re going to need all the superheroes we can get in this world—especially the real-life variety.