Thursday, January 29, 2015

Star Wars--A Guide To Parenting Teenagers

For the past few weeks we have been watching ALL of the Star Wars movies.  It has been so fun to see my children's reactions to the older movies.  It's also been fun to reminisce about the Star Wars toys that my brother and I had when we were little--the action figures, the trash compactor with the little foam pieces that were supposed to be the galactic garbage, THE Millennium Falcon.  

The old Star Wars movies were our childhood.  Our games revolved around battling the Death Star, trying to perfect our Darth Vader voice, my sister was Princess Lea for a couple Halloweens, girls in my classes picked who was cuter Luke or Han (totally Han, duh), we had Star Wars glasses and blankets, etc.

So, it's funny to see my kids reenact Star Wars scenes and analyze the relationship between Luke and his sister and their father.

As I rewatch the classics and the newer movies, I am watching them through the eyes (and heart) of a mother.  I am realizing that this galaxy far, far away sounds a lot like my life right now.

Let me break it down for you...

We parents are the Jedis in this giant oh so imperfect galaxy. We are trying to teach our young ones all of our tricks for navigating the world and to be able to fight off the dark side (and by dark side I mean anything and everything that can go wrong during teenagehood).  
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Here are some of the parenting of teenagers lessons/insights I got from the Star Wars movies:

I want to be my kids Obi-Wan Kenobi. 
Whenever young Luke Skywalker is in trouble or unsure, he calls out for "Ben!" and asks for guidance.  Then Ben or Obi-Wan Kenobi's spirit appears and says something haunting like "use the force."  When my teens are out at party and deciding whether or not to take that drink or cave to peer pressure, I want them to call out "Mom" and hear my haunting voice telling them "I will take away your car keys for months" or "remember who you are young Jedi."  Yes, I want to haunt my kids.

May the force be with them. I want the force--the unconditional love of our family and the belief that they can do great things--to be with them, always.

The Han Solos can surprise you. A parenting mentor once told me she always hoped the good in her kids would rub off on the kids that weren't so good. Just like how Luke believed there was good in his father, I believe there is good in most people. I hope that the good in my kids will rub off on others. Look at Han Solo, he was a smuggler, a "bad" guy who hung out in creepy bars, but with a little kindness from Luke and the gang, he turned out to be quite a hero.

Respect the elders. Right? Luke always gave huge props and respect to Ben and Yoda. I'm going to start demanding the same from my kids. "Show respect you will," I will calmly tell them.

Work hard and practice, and lift that ship. It took years for Luke to be ready to confront Darth Vader. Remember the training sessions in the swamp? He got down on himself when he couldn't lift the ship and then little Yoda was all like oh watch how it's done young one. Good teachers and coaches make a huge difference. And patience. It's hard to watch my kids struggle and fail, but when one of my kids finally lifts the ship, the crowd goes wild.

Don't step out of line. When one of the men in Vader's army gets out of line, he does that choking trick. I don't have that crazy power in real life, but I get a similar result with one of my "you better shut your mouth, I am totally serious and pissed" looks I give them.

It's hard to be a young Jedi. Being a young Jedi or a young teenager is hard. Both are all hot-headed and brave and totally clueless and ready for a fight and want to be loved and want to be cool and have the best light saber.  

It's hard to be an old Jedi. Sure being a Jedi master or a parent, we know more and have more tricks.  But we also are more vulnerable and worried because with great knowledge comes being totally aware of the scary shit that's in the dark side (the wrong crowd, drugs, drinking, etc).

Have faith. Believe, have faith. Even when it gets really hard.  Even when your teenagers are yelling "I hate you" like Anakin does to Obi-Wan as he's drowning in the lava in the final prequel Revenge of the Sith.  As a parent (or an old Jedi) we just have to let go and have a little faith that the young Jedis (teenagers) will remember all the lessons we taught them, all the unconditional love that we have for them and stay far far away from the dark side.

I stand in allegiance with all you old Jedi masters who are teaching young Jedis right now.  Fist bumps and high fives of support.  Keep on keeping on and may the force be with all of you.

When my kids graduate from high school or college, this is the scene that I will think about.  Maybe I will even cue up the music and play it at their graduation parties.  Good idea I think that is. 

(Click here to watch the video.)


  1. Best parenting guide ever this is.

  2. Clever this is. Remember I will.
    I mean... I love this! I want to be my kids' Obi Wan too.