It’s a bit scary to me. I see it in the movies and a little bit in my friends and family’s kids: teenagers who don’t want much to do with their parents and would really prefer that no one knew that they were related. They used to love being around them; they used to be their kid’s heroes.
I want to take a minute to clarify that the role of ‘hero’ is a gift given to us, but only for awhile. It’s easy when they’re only four or five, it actually seems natural that we are our children’s heroes. The reason is, to them, everything we do is exceptional. We can kick a ball higher than the house, we can make the car go fast (faster than mom prefers), we know seemingly everything about nature, the universe, and sports and we can magically pull the tip of our thumb off and put it back on.
We often take for granted that our kids truly idolize us in those early years and as they reach their tweens and teens, that role of hero becomes harder and harder to hang on to.
Soon enough, they learn how to kick a ball well, learn to drive (God help us), learn a lot about the universe and learn that you never pulled your thumb off…. it was just a dorky magic trick.
So, will you always remain the hero in your kid’s life? Probably not … but, that’s okay.
Eventually your kids will realize that you‘re human: flawed and in need of grace. But, what I long for you is for your kid to see you as available and willing to fight with them when dragons and monsters come into their lives.
My theory, and my goal, is to join in our kids’ adventures while they are young, so that I may earn the right to be beside them when the battles they fight involve sex, drugs, and a lot more huge life decisions that I don’t even see coming yet. Right now my wife and I’s kids are young and are begging us to spend time with them, to play with them. In truth, they are begging us to join their adventures, to join them in their world of imagination and wonder.
To our kids, their imaginary adventures are as real as any of our work, finances and daily schedules.
When I say I want to join them in that, I send the message that I am available, that they matter to me, and that I am right beside them and always will be when monsters come, real or imaginary.
We should also invite our children into our own battles. Whether that’s fighting the weeds in the garden or changing the car’s oil. It is so important to accomplish things together, so that our children feel that they are valuable in our lives.
My desire is that, if not hero, our kids will always see us as mentors in their lives. Those who have seen a lot more battles, have the scars, and have a perspective on what the next step looks like. We have a huge amount of value to offer them, even just by showing them where we failed.
This isn’t perfect advice and won’t guarantee that your kids will remain open to you as they get older, but I think it will give you, and them, a better shot at a loving relationship.
The reality is that our time is limited with our children. Because of that, so are our opportunities. Their early view of us as hero is a gift, one that you can nurture and one that will naturally slip away if we neglect it.