Be a Better Parent By Watching Star Wars VIII
Not long from now, the latest installment of Star Wars will reach the big screen. And like most dedicated fathers, I’ll ensure that our family will together witness the magnificent and celebrated continuation of what “The Force Awakens” wonderfully revived in 2015.
(I’ll also precede the event for weeks prior with mock lightsaber fights, character voices at meal time, and overused Yoda quotes directed mostly at my wife … But I digress.)
As I’ve re-watched the grand saga countless times over the years, I’ve had a slow epiphany reaching beyond pure entertainment that might justify all the action figures, bed sets, and t-shirts I accumulated a long time ago in a house far, far away.
While we sit and wonder about the relationship between Luke and Rey, or ponder the forever unknown collapse of Leia and Han (not to mention their misguided offspring, Kylo Ren) we’re bequeathed with a beyond certain synopsis that’s more well-defined than simply Resistance vs. First Order, Good vs. Evil, or Light vs. Dark.
I now know that the series is about the goodwill, tragedy, and brokenness of nothing more or less than a family.
Make no mistake, this family is as normal as it gets. No, its central characters aren’t a husband and wife with 2.5 children and a dog. Here you’ll find something to which we can all relate.
A father (Vader) and son (Luke) relationship gone astray that moves to redemption and forgiveness by the simultaneous, yet selfless individual acts of one another. A brother (Luke) and sister (Leia) bonded through an all-knowing, intangible power (Force) that induces them to serve others, contrasted with the constant pull toward a darker side setting off self-centered and egotistical behaviors. New heroes (Finn and Rey) with suspect and unknown pasts who unite for a common purpose greater than their own. Shady friends (Lando) that rise beyond reputations to new life. Old, trustworthy friends that seemingly never disappoint and are always there in thick and thin (C3PO and R2D2). There’s even that nondescript, less heralded man (Jango Fett) to which we can all relate – just a simple guy, trying to make his way in the world.
All of that sounds like families I know. Some of it sounds like my own. Most of the principal themes in Star Wars are centered around family relationships.
No, not all of it is healthy, and not always realistic. There’s a lot of violence, tragedy, and death. But from all of it, I’ve learned that the family unit can mirror all those things, and that redemption and mercy can prevail over darkness and self-centeredness. Even the variety of dads – cruel and merciless as some may be – all provide us with some powerful do’s and don’ts for parenting in this present world. They supplement my own experiences and tactics in fatherhood. To be sure, I’m happy to let our kids learn about the messages (some good, some bad) throughout the movies and deduce how they apply to real life.
So go see Star Wars “The Last Jedi,” and be sure to bring along your kids. I’m not going to promise that you’ll gain any surefire, tactical parenting pointers. But at least you’ll come away with some killer lightsaber moves for sparring with your three-year-old.