The loud, rambunctious shenanigans of cape-and-mask wearing children have lead many a stressed-out mother to proclaim: “Enough with the Superheroes! I’m taking away those costumes / comic books / DVD’s and from now on you’ll only have access to characters who keep you calm and quiet”. But don’t be too quick to bin Superman and co – your kids can learn lots of valuable lessons form these guys (and girls).
Superheroes provide great content for moral development. Consider the Silver Surfer’s conundrum – in order to save his home planet from being destroyed, he commits to serving the evil Galactus and finding other planets for him to consume. And you thought you had problems!
Children can also identify with Superheroes during difficult or traumatic times. Batman has to watch helplessly as his mother and father are killed, Superman is adopted, the X-men are called freaks and are shunned by the communities in which they live, Bruce Banner’s (the Hulk’s) father is an alcoholic who physically abused his mother.
Kids learn from Superheroes that we all have strengths and weaknesses. They might have superpowers, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. The Hulk constantly strives to learn to manage his anger, Ironman to spend less time at work, Wolverine to accept himself as he is.
They teach empathy. When children live themselves into the lives of these Superheroes they have the opportunity to see the world from their perspective. The X-men fight to save the very people who shun them, Superman is torn between his love for Lois and the need to remain anonymous in order to protect those close to him from evil villains.
So make a cup of chamomile tea, remove all the objects with which they can possibly cause bodily harm, repeat those rules about jumping off the cupboard and trying to run on the swimming pool surface and accept the Marvel and DC characters into your parenting team.