I came to fandom later in life, having been scarred by an unfortunate showing of Return of the Jedi in kindergarten one rainy afternoon. Ewoks and their unintelligible mutterings still make me uncomfortable to this day (especially now that they blink), though the one bright spot that has managed to shine through that otherwise dark memory is Han Solo. I fell head over feet for him that day, and haven’t looked back since.
My husband grew up on the original trilogy, and like any other mainstream American boy in the late 1970s, he entrenched himself in the entire creative world of fantastical creatures and blaster-scorched ships.
As an adult, he found that Star Wars held entirely new appeal — for myself and for fellow fans-turned-parents too, I’d imagine — which lay in looking at the saga as a rite of passage for our children. There’s something inimitably fantastic about watching them experience the amazing intergalactic world for the first time, marveling at everything that once sent our own imaginations into hyperspace the very first time we saw that galaxy far, far away.
Watching the films has since become a family tradition at our house, with Star Wars references organically making their way into daily conversations, playtime (my five-year-old daughter’s vintage Princess Leia doll passed down by dad is just as beloved as her Barbies), and as a means of answering those hard-hitting questions kids are so good at asking.
Because when you have an extremely inquisitive 8-year-old son who throws out questions about everything so fast it’s like his mind is in permanent hyperdrive, you want to preserve that sense of innocence and excitement about the world, space-themed or otherwise:
“Is Jabba the Hutt part of the slug family?”
“Does Palpatine ever go to the dentist?”
“Why does C-3PO have a British accent if he’s from space?”
“Mommy, do you use Jedi mind tricks on Daddy?”
“Does Elsa use the Force to make snowflakes?”
What’s more, we’ve found that many of the abstract life lessons we instill in our children that center on teamwork, bravery, kindness, and generally just being excellent to each other – can be more easily explained and illustrated by scenarios found in all the films. And The Clone Wars. (We’ve expanded.)
Think about it:
Though Anakin and Luke came from the same planet and lived similar lives, the choices they made caused their journeys to play out differently. Lesson: There are good and bad consequences to every action.
Despite all his swagger, Han Solo realizes the importance of being part of a group and helping others for the common good. Lesson: Be nice.
He may be small, but R2-D2 is seriously mighty. Lesson: Things are not always what they seem.
Ahsoka always stuck to her guns. Lesson: Stay true to yourself.
Besides, I like to think we’re doing something right every time I overhear the kids humming the “Imperial March,” or talking to their dad about good guys vs. bad guys and how we get back what we give.
Although, we can’t take all the credit. Yoda did say, “pass on what you have learned,” which is arguably the most important parenting lesson of all.
Photo credit: Pilar Clark
Pilar Clark and geekdom have been mutually exclusive since tight-rolled jeans and slap bracelets were in fashion, making it rather fitting she married a Star Wars fanboy, made two fanlets, and became a writer/multimedia storyteller with a pop culture-meets-parenting bent. Follow her @daspilar.