There is definitely no shortage of superhero movies coming out these days. And while some people are becoming annoyed at the sheer amount of them, for parents, superhero movies make a great ally. Why? For a very simple reason – superheroes are great for children and in more ways than one.
The Human Need for Heroes
Superheroes have been around since the beginnings of the human culture. The first literary work that is still preserved, Gilgamesh, talks about the eponymous king hero who goes from one adventure to the other, always righting the wrongs. The Ancient Greek literature was packed with heroes, as was the Roman one. Ancient Indian and Chinese cultures also had their heroes, often possessing supernatural powers that allowed them to help the ordinary people.
Because of this, the modern superhero feels so natural to everyone, children included. It is someone the human race has started depending on when times are tough and when we need a bit of a push in the right direction.
Sense of Good and Bad
Not to get spectacularly philosophical, but the distinction between good and bad is a purely human construct. Animals do not see behavior as good or bad. Only humans do. Children learn about the good and the bad relatively soon in their lives and it is not that difficult to explain the difference to them, but reminding them is always a good idea.
Superheroes do this perfectly. They do this without seeming preachy and often very subtly driving the point home.
Later, when children start getting older and when they need to start learning about a gray world, the superheroes are still there, at least some of them. Many modern (and not only modern) superhero works show the world for what it is, in reality – a gray world where the lines between the good and the bad are often blurred.
When you cut through all the qualms about the nature of good and evil, you will almost invariably find that superheroes are about helping other people. They may not be as empathic as an idealized world might require, but their drive to help is undeniable.
For a child, learning about the virtue of helping others can only result in good things. Instead of turning the other way if they see an injustice, your child will act. Sometimes this will get him or her in trouble, but you will know that they did the right thing. There is nothing nobler than standing in defense of someone who cannot defend themselves.
This is what superheroes are all about. They are about not staying silent if one sees another human being needs help. It is about acting and trying to make a world a better place.
Importance of the Ordinary Person
One crucial aspect of most superheroes our kids love and that we often overlook is that superheroes are very often ordinary people who just happen to have certain supernatural powers. They have the same problems and the same doubts as the ordinary person in your neighborhood.
This is a great lesson for the kids, understanding that the ordinary people are capable of extraordinary feats that can change the world for the better. People who cure illnesses and explore the universe are ordinary people who just happen to do extraordinary things every now and then.
It is a fantastic lesson to learn.
Becoming a Superhero
A big part of the superhero culture are the activities that help our children "become" superheroes for a while. For example, during play, a child will often pretend to be a superhero and try to do as many great things as he or she can think of.
Dressing up as superheroes is also a thing and it is something perfectly natural. Even wearing clothes with superheroes on it can be a great thing for your child. Of course, if your child really gets into it, you will want to go looking for deals on boys clothing (and girls, of course). The important thing is that you do not stand in their way.
If your child wants to be a superhero every now and then, let him or her do it.
In fact, encourage it.