Like most kids growing up in the '70s and '80s, my childhood revolved around Star Wars. That magical little trilogy was just the greatest thing ever invented next to snow days. Now that I'm grown and have kids of my own, I've had the sheer pleasure of reliving it all through their eyes. (As well as reliving the nightmare that is the Prequels.)
Now if you're a parent and you haven't seen Star Wars, well, what's wrong with you? Stop reading right this second, go rent Episodes IV - VI and watch them. Then we'll talk. For all you other folks, whether your kids are old enough to watch it or not, I've realized something pretty magical about that Galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars is a great teacher.
Not about war preparation or special effects or crazy alien languages. Uh uh. Star Wars is a wonderful resource for parents. There are a slew of powerful life lessons you can grasp from the movies to help shape your younglings' lives. I've compiled a list of the 10 most important parenting lessons you can absorb from watching Star Wars. Some of these are great advice for parents to follow, some are great to pass on to your kids, and many apply to both.
Read on and, of course, May the Force be With You.
1. Choose your destiny. Even if you have incredibly lofty goals, like say ruling the entire galaxy with your son by your side, it's their life, not yours. You need to let your kids follow their own path. Don't "Force" them into what you want them to become.
2. Do or do not. There is no try. Okay, so maybe Yoda's advice doesn't really apply to things like potty training or trying to ride a bicycle, but the essence of his fortune cookie ramblings is that you shouldn't be wishy washy with things. Make a decision and stand by it. Either do it or don't. Don't try it, meaning you don't give it your full attention.
3. Han shot first. True Star Wars fans will completely agree with me on this one. For those wondering what the heck I'm talking about, in the original Star Wars, Han Solo shoots Greedo in the cantina and then escapes. In George Lucas' updated Special Edition of the film, he changed it so that Greedo shot first and then Han fired in self-defense. The lesson here is twofold. First, it's okay that sometimes "good guys" do bad things. Or "not so nice" things. And second, you do NOT mess with a classic movie.
4. Love your sister. (But not like that!) Family is everything. Even if you grew up on completely different planets and didn't know about each other's existence, family is important. You should be there for each other. Just be sure you know who your biological sister is before you accidentally start playing tonsil hockey with her, okay? Ewwww...
5. Everyone's family is dysfunctional. Whether your father is the Dark Lord of the Sith, your single mother was a slave on a desert planet, or you literally have thousands of identical clone brothers, it doesn't matter. Every family is dysfunctional, so don't for a minute think yours is any weirder than someone else's.
6. Bullies never win. They can hurt you mentally and physically. They can create a fully operational planet-sized weapon of mass destruction. Twice. But no matter what, in the end, bullies will always get what they deserve.
7. Ignore the Smells. Hopefully you'll never find yourself stuck in a frozen tundra somewhere with the only means to your survival resting on the warm guts inside of a large, furry beast. But even still, parenting has its fair share of "ickiness" that you just need to suck up and look past. From projectile poop to puke, there's plenty of grossness that'd make any sane human run for the hills. But just like in life, sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves, find some guts (preferably your own), and push on.
8. Teddy Bears have teeth. Always watch your back. Those cute adorable walking teddy bears may seem furry and harmless at first but they carry big sticks (and spears) and can do some serious damage if you're not careful. So never jump to quick conclusions about a person or situation without uncovering more details first.
9. Trust your instincts. All the data in the world and computerized targeting systems cannot replace human instinct. If you think you can hit the bullseye with your eyes closed, and you truly believe it and feel it, go with your gut. Same goes for any situation you just feel is wrong.
10. Let the Wookiee win. Pretty sound advice for anyone no matter their age.
Andrew Kardon is a daddy blogger over at Mommy's Busy, Go Ask Daddy, as well as a freelance writer. He regular contributes to Singlemommie.com where he dives into the super scary world of... parenting!