My husband and I put a lot of effort into keeping our home free from violent media influences. It’s an uphill battle that we’re committed to fighting, and one that sometimes requires a little creative thinking.
Zachary’s male classmates (ages 3 and 4) are fascinated by Star Wars. Yes, you read right: ages 3 and 4, not 13 and 14. They know all the characters, all the spaceships, and, of course, all the violence that goes with it. Zach would come home every day, his head a jumble of confusion: Who is Star Wars? Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Does Luke Skywalker walk on the sky? What does a light saber do? Can it kill you? If it kills you, are you dead? Is Darth Vader a bad guy or a good guy?
We were very frustrated by this turn of events and found it difficult to answer his questions without confusing him even more. We told him Star Wars was a “once-upon-a-time” story, explained that what his friends called “bad guys” are really people who were feeling sad or angry and didn’t know what to do with their feelings, and allowed him to buy a plastic light saber (with his own money, of course!) so he could see that it was just a harmless toy. But still, the confusion reigned supreme and overshadowed all his other interests.
I kept wishing there were a book that summarized the basics of the Star Wars story without the violence inherent to the plot. I searched fruitlessly for weeks, until – just before Father’s Day – I came across Darth Vader and Son. Stroke. Of. Genius.
It features 4-year-old Luke Skywalker (the same age as Zachary) engaging with his sometimes clueless and exasperated dad, Darth Vader, in many of the same scenarios that my son and his dad experience week to week. The “I-don’t-have-to-pee” dance; the “I-won’t-pick-up-my-toys” battle… You get the idea.
It’s gentle enough for my very innocent 4-year-old to enjoy, and yet it has lots of references to the movie series, which my Star Wars-loving hubby really appreciated!
The mystique of Star Wars quickly faded from Zachary’s mind once he and his dad had read the book a few times. Now, they quote bits from the book when the real-life situation mirrors what Luke and Darth experienced, and they share a laugh.
We might not always win the battle against mainstream media influences, but in this case, the force was with us!!
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