by Richard L. Burguet •
They are out there… you probably don’t have to try too hard to see them, either. There is actually a relatively long list of them. Super heros. Iron Man, Superman, Spider Man, X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, The Justice League, The Fantastic Four….but wait, there are more – oops, that is a hold over from television telemarketing ads. If you have caught a movie trailer in the last year, you have certainly been exposed to this resurgence of these beings of great strength and courage who are celebrated for their bold exploits. I am fascinated by our interest in these champions. Our preoccupation with the super hero phenomenon and the renewed interest in the comic book characters of our childhood reveals something about who we are as adults.
Most of the readers of this article are adults. Some of us grew up in the age of the comic book; some of us grew up with these champions flashing across our television screens every Saturday morning, setting every wrong right once again. Who doesn’t still turn to the Sunday Comic’s page in the newspaper, and just… “check out our favorite champions”? We — now that we are all grown up and have children (and dare I suggest it: grandchildren, too) — want to be the super hero that our children look up to. Some of us will go to amazing lengths to become what we believe will make us that “highly esteemed man of great power” that we think our children expect us to be. We will work long hours to earn big wages to “give our kids what we never had.” We will be at every sporting event that little Johnny ever participates in. We will move heaven and earth to attend the ballet performance in which Susy crosses the stage as a flower. We somehow have convinced ourselves this is the kind of super hero parent our children need today.
Observations of many, many families over my years as a pastor have caused me to redefine my ideas of what a genuine super hero dad or mom actually looks like, and what they do. Instead of trying to become heroic in the eyes of our offspring by doing the exceptional or even the sacrificial things we have decided our children want or need, my observation is that we attain the status of Super Hero Parent in the things we consider the mundane. There is no doubt dads and moms need to provide for the well being of their child, and it is a good thing to attend the play, and the ballet, the basketball and football games, and lots of other events in the lives of their youngsters. But far more important than those big-ticket events in their lives, are the day to day, steady, ever-present, regular, and small ways that we communicate our love to them. Our consistent love and discipline for them is critical. Our willingness to let them see us struggle with the hard things in life, and that sometimes we fail, is what makes a hero genuine. Letting our kids see us love our spouses sacrificially, is a great super heroic activity. Not being afraid to apologize to our kids when we have wronged them in some way is also a super hero activity. Teaching our children that loving and obeying God is more important that anything else in this life, may help your child esteem you far more than he or she may think that Batman or Catwoman is cool. Super hero parenting actually boils down to authenticity with our children. It is not swooping into their lives for the big rescue. Rather, if you want to be a parent who is of great strength and courage, then you will be consistent and honest as you live out life in front of them.
In the Bible, one of the great super heros who actually did live was a man named Moses. After Moses received the Ten Commandments, he wanted the Israelites to know how to become genuine super heros of faith, like himself, and these were his words to them: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Moses told the people of his day that becoming a super hero was done in the everyday and the mundane times of life lived out in authenticity before their children.
All of this is not to say that donning a cape every now and then isn’t a fun thing to do too!