According to Greek mythology, heroes or heroines were originally demigods; part god, part human. Demigods faced adversity in spite of their weaknesses, with courage and often a great deal of self-sacrifice. Then should our children learn to be particular about who they pick as their heroes and what do you do when their hero falls from grace?
Often children have a very limiting view to the complexity of their heroes. Heroes are simple; they mesmerize them, inspire them, and want to grow up to be just like them. They look at their accomplishments on their surface-value, without understanding all that lives behind that pedestal. Perhaps for small children, that’s the way it should be. Heroes give us hope, they inspire us to dream, and give direction to the kind of person we want to be. All you have to do is look into the face of a child when they’re at The Magic Kingdom and meet Mickey for the very first time – magical. As a parent, we are thrilled to be able to give our children a piece of their fantasy.
As children get older, they begin to understand and come in contact with some of the realities of the world. You can see the struggle within, when their demigod’s weaknesses surface and their heroes become all too human. Some children experience disappointment, others a little anger, and most a combination of both. They watch their heroes fall from their pedestals and destroy their illusions.
So how as parents do you help them through this time? You want your child to preserve all the magic that a hero represents, but maintain a perspective of the truth. As in Greek mythology, heroes were half human; they had weaknesses. Your children’s heroes are human too. Their achievements have put them in the spotlight and yet those achievements are only a small part of who they are. They are also someone’s son, daughter, wife, husband, and parent, who make decisions every day of their lives. Some days they’re going to make bad decisions; as we all do. It’s not so much the decision, but the way they handle the consequences of that decision that makes them the true hero. Along with their accomplishments, that’s the part you want your children to still look up to; to still want to emulate.