Ever since I became a mom, I’ve tried to do the opposite of my instincts, many of which border on hovering-helicopter-style parenting. I’ve learned to avert my eyes at crazy climbing and jumping, and I put my husband in charge of the learning-to-ride-a-bike parts of life.
But some times, you just feel in your gut that your kid isn’t ready to face certain things yet.
For me, it’s the good-guy-turned-bad-guy. My 6-year old has seen the original Star Wars trilogy plus Episode I. Then I cut him off–partly because it gets darker and more violent at that point, but mostly because I don’t think he’s ready for the concept of someone you know and love doing unspeakable things.
I know it’s just a movie, but good guys and bad guys are understandable when you’re 6. He knows people all make mistakes, he knows we all sin and do things that hurt other people occasionally, but he also is 6. At 6, it’s a hard concept to understand that even the best of good guys can become dark.
There was a deep conversation at lunch the other day, and a co-worker insightfully talked about the duality of man. We all have the capacity for good and bad in us he reminded me.
But how do you explain when someone you know, love, trust… commits a murder? Even with a grounding of faith, grace and redemption–how do you explain when parents kill children? When children kill parents? When loving families erupt into grisly murder-suicide police scenes?
My kid has handled life okay so far, but I’m still avoiding those scenes–I’ve avoided Kylo Ren killing Han Solo, Snape murdering Dumbledore, and Anakin turning against the Jedi Council (and the younglings–yikes).
I know in the big story arc, there’s a great conversation about salvation and forgiveness in all of those–I’d bet good money on Kylo Ren being saved down the line. And yes, these are all rated PG-13ish anyways, so I always have the out of pointing to that number and showing the kid that it’s not just his mom that doesn’t think he’s really–Hollywood agrees with me.
And I know my gut instincts are right. And they may be more about me than him.
I can’t explain these things without crying and he should be told these things with some semblance of hope in the story.
There is hope in the story–there’s always hope. And I want my kid to know that, without a shadow of doubt. And right now I don’t know if I can convey it, even if I know it to be true.
So I wait until the time, when my words can match the look on my face and when I can tell him that there are good guys and bad guys, and that the truly worst kind of person is both good and bad, which makes it the hardest to understand and accept. When that time comes, I will connect it to a bigger story arc about forgiveness, redemption and hope. Without dissolving into tears while I tell it.