May the Force Be With Us
Seven parenting lessons I learned from "Star Wars"
All of those hours from my childhood (and adulthood) geeking out about light sabers, Ewoks, and "the Force" were not devoid of spiritual growth, I have decided. And now that I’m a dad, I’ve learned that Obi-Wan really has taught me well.
Yoda, you are a Jedi genius. All of those years I spent prepping myself for adulthood were decimated the day I became a father. Parenthood is like a blank slate, in a way, or like starting from scratch. A lot of what you already think you know gets rocked like the Death Star, and you find out maybe you didn’t get things quite as well as you thought. Unlearn and relearn. Sage words, Yoda.
"Beep boop whistle" (Courage is Key) — R2-D2
If a large lunchbox could have a kid, R2-D2 would have been a great dad. Not because he could create holograms with his nostril, or spin his head in a complete 360, but because he always just jumped — or rolled, rather — right into battle. It didn’t matter what kind of challenge he was facing, R2-D2 always had the courage to go forth and conquer! The best part was that half the time he had no idea what he was getting into — he just knew what needed to get done and he did it. (And he did it all with a "whistle while you work" attitude!)
Patience: Portrayed by any scene in which there is dialogue between R2-D2 and C-3PO
Just keep rolling. R2-D2. You are my hero. C-3PO, shut your pie hole. Their dynamic is ridiculously similar to fatherhood, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, R2-D2 is the dad and C-3PO is the whiny kid. Sometimes, this is what fatherhood is — taking care of business while toting along a perpetual whiner who says things in the realm of “No. I don’t like you either” or “This is all your fault” or “I’ve had just about enough of you. Go that way. You’ll be malfunctioning within a day, you near-sighted scrap pile.”
At times, I would like to pull my hair out or turn and give them a happy little shock with my mechanical welding arm, but I settle for the quiet blessing of patience learned. Thanks for the lessons, C-3PO — maybe you served a greater purpose than I initially thought.
They’re not the best example for a lot of reasons, but at least one thing can be gleaned from their relationship: Devotion. I don’t care what kind of outfit she’s wearing or if her hair resembles two cinnamon buns, I’m always happy to see her and she’s always beautiful. Even when I’ve just come out of carbon freeze and can’t see all that well, the sound of my sweetheart's voice is enough to bring me peace. Sure we don’t always mix it up with calm voices, but we always work it out and sometimes end up getting our our freak on in the engine room.
Kids, pay attention. I love your mom and I treat her with respect, as should you.
“How you get so big eating food of this kind?” — Yoda
The unknown. Seriously. How do you get so big eating crayons, stale goldfish crackers and Gogurts? Where did you learn that word? How do I console you? What were you thinking? Every single day is littered with these questions, and although I haven’t reached the end of my time as a parent here on Earth, I expect they will never end. Children offer us the opportunity of a lifetime that I don’t believe can be properly experienced elsewhere. That opportunity is to head into the unknown with a lot of heart and not a lot of armor. And is there actually a finish line?
Humility: Luke Skywalker
Luke Skywalker gave a few good pointers on humility. First off, if there is anyone more clueless and who whined more than C-3PO it’s got to be Luke. Throw in a bag of humility and a few lessons from Master Yoda and you’ve got potential to do some great things. In the end, he pulled it off — patient, soft-spoken, focused Jedi. If a father doesn’t embrace humility with a grateful heart, he will never become a true Jedi. Without it, we are only boys and fathers. But with it, we become men and earn the much more noble title of Dad.
Sacrifice: Darth Vader vs. Darth Sidious
There are too many fatherhood lessons in this scene to quantify. Don’t abandon your kids. Taking over the Empire will never be as important as taking care of your family. Forgive and forget. Don’t play with electricity. But the most important lesson — and in my opinion this tops the entire list — is sacrifice. Do anything and everything for the benefit of your kids that you’re capable of. Whether you’re protecting them from evil or you’re adding some good to their lives, just keep going and doing your best.
And if you need to, use The Force.