taking superheroes off their pedestal

I took my son to a superhero birthday party on Saturday. It was at the home of the boy my son would probably call his best friend. It was a drop-off party – as in parents aren’t invited. I guess kids-only parties start right around the fifth birthday, and we’re just four months into the five-year-old territory, so I’m still getting used to the idea.

My son came home talking about the ninja toy the birthday boy got as a gift. The “light green ninja” had a backpack on, with green discs inside. My son called them pennies but the kids in the know quickly corrected him, he told me. Other times my son has been at this home he has come home asking when I am going to buy him superhero Legos.

For the past few years, this friend of his has been his primary source of information about superheroes. We don’t watch them around here. We don’t buy them either. Only occasionally can I be persuaded to read a book about them. At this age, peers already influence a child’s preferences about play more than any other source of input. And these kids are getting the script from the cartoon makers. (What ever happened to true creative play?)

Am I the only one that thinks this superhero thing is a little off base? And what can I do about it? Take a this-too-shall-pass approach? Find some five-year-old boys for my son to play with who don’t talk about superheroes incessantly? (Are there any to be found in this country?) Balance out peer input with stories that do NOT promote violence as the solution a problem or do NOT teach that strength equals power?

How do we teach boys about the value of humility and meekness? Yes, meekness. As in strength under control.

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7 thoughts on “taking superheroes off their pedestal

  1. Such a tough situation, Anita, and I’m afraid I don’t have any answers. I’m going through the same thing with princesses. The only way I know is to provide as many different examples of super heroes that I can think of so my kids can see that they’re not ALL so formulaic. I also listen and watch so I know what it is about the thing that my girls love so much. I understand it’s the pretty tulle dresses, or the crowns, etc. So I’ll introduce them to Fancy Nancy or Angelina Ballerina so they know girls that like fancy things, but also have more than one dimension to them. Or I’ll check out different version of the fairy tale Cinderella so they meet the princess in different lands, and in different situations.

    • I think you’re right about paying attention to what it is about the superheroes they’re so attracted to. Part of it is about being brave and strong. So over lunch today I pointed out examples of real people who are brave and strong (including their daddy).

  2. I think that it is not just the strength that is the attraction but the fact that good vanquishes evil. I think for all of us believing in that is a great need.In the end the bad guy after doing all the terrible things he does finally gets his comeuppance. I think it is a basic human need to believe that finally justice will prevail. I use to watch everything my children watched while they were growing up, then we could discuss it.These are some good memories for both me and the girls. We still watch stuff together. At least you know what he is watching and what he is gleaning from it then you can point him towards the good and wean him off the bad. .

    • You do make a good point about our need to believe in the end justice will prevail.
      I think part of my reflecting comes from knowing that our son is gradually doing more things with peers and fewer with me. And those are things I can only discuss with him if he decides to share them with me.

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