“Heroes seldom wear capes.” – John O’Leary, ON FIRE
“Who’s your favorite?”
My boys recently asked me this question. We were driving to school, talking about superheroes and sharing our favorites. The boys responded with the Green Lantern, Batman and a little rodent with a big mouth named Rocket Raccoon (don’t ask!).
After sharing that mine was Superman, I was stunned to learn that the fellas had reached the ripe old ages of 7, 9 and 11 without watching this classic.
That evening, we made popcorn and watched the movie as a family. The kids loved it – and him. Afterwards, they were all humming the Superman theme song as they flew down the hall toward their rooms.
While watching the movie, I realized that Superman wasn’t just showing me how to fight crime in a fictional world, but how to parent, serve and lead in the one in which we live. Here are four lessons from Superman for parents (interchange “parents’ with friends, spouses, leaders; these lessons apply to us all):
1. We all long for a hero. Superman operated in a scary and broken world. When something bad happened people would look around and cry out, “Where’s Superman!?” Then, faster than a speeding bullet, he’d arrive to save the day!
Our world can be a scary place, too. When friends can turn their backs flippantly, academics are strenuous, the push to succeed is overwhelming, negativity is prevalent and experiencing true acceptance seems impossible: Our children desperately seek someone they can respect, model, get attention from and love. They’ll find that attention either with someone else or with you; either outside of your home or within it. Be that hero.
2. Doing the right thing isn’t always popular. He was always jumping into the middle of perilous situations with walls crumbling, bullets flying and kryptonite popping. While others ran backward, Superman flew forward.
Frequently we give into group thinking. Because everyone else allows their child to have this technology, that trip, or participate in those activities, doesn’t mean we have to. Be audacious enough to move in a different direction, the best one for you and your child.
3. Encourage them to fly. One of my favorite scenes is when Superman arrives on his first date with Lois Lane. Near the end of the date, he takes her flying. Soaring over Manhattan, she was first terrified, then a bit more relaxed and eventually comfortable. He then gently releases his snug hold of her, clasps her hand in his and lets her fly next to him. It’s as if she is the one flying.
As a kid, I’d meet my dad at the end of our street. He’d park the car, open the door and let me hop in his lap. I’d then drive the car all the way home! It was the distance of four houses, he was in control of the accelerator and brakes, had one hand on the wheel (the other gently guiding my hands): But I was certain I was driving that car. He made me feel, not just in driving, but in all things, that I could fly.
Let go of the negativity that can stifle children’s creativity and dreams. Instead, dream big and remember that anything is possible.
4. Take time for you. In the midst of fighting crime, pursuing Lois Lane, moonlighting as Clark Kent and solving the world’s problems, Superman would occasionally retreat to his ice castle to recharge before returning renewed.
In the midst of carpool lines and work obligations, it’s easy to miss the miracle of the moment and instead become irritated by tasks of the day. Thus it is important to plan time to retreat and refresh. For many this cannot be a full-blown getaway, but could you steal five minutes to watch a funny video? Rock out to your favorite song on your way to pick up your kids? Wake up 10 minutes early to enjoy sunrise and solitude?
(In my most recent Live Inspired podcast ep. #014, Meg Meeker, MD, mother, pediatrician, business owner and author, shares that “you already are a hero for your kids” and tips to simplify and enjoy daily life. Listen here.)
My friends, our children are starved for real-life heroes – and they aren’t alone.
Our spouses, coworkers, and community long for heroes, too. Let’s remind them through our example that heroes seldom wear capes. Let’s reveal to them that in the chaos today there is hope for tomorrow. And let’s inspire them to dream bolder, soar higher and forge new paths.
This is your day. Live Inspired.