How do I tell my daughter about a world with no superheroes?

Post by Jason Plotkin

One of the best movie experiences I’ve ever had was taking my 11-year-old daughter Hannah to the midnight showing of the Avengers. By the time we got home at 4:15 am, she was still so excited she could still hardly sleep.

I get teased a lot because of my love for superheroes and superhero movies. My desire to share this with both my daughters goes beyond a geeky desire to have them name all of the members of the Justice League.

When I take Hannah to these movies, I’m introducing her to a world where anything is possible. It’s a world where people can fly, climb walls and save the world in a suit of armor. Where ordinary people rise above themselves in extraordinary circumstances. I believe that it is important for my daughters to realize that this world is bigger than they are. That they live in a world where they can make a difference.

I know that this world is filled with heroes like firefighters, police officers and teachers. Selfless parents and amazing people who go above and beyond to make this world a better place for the next generation. These are real life heroes who do remarkable and selfless things every day. I make sure that both my girls recognize this as well.

Early this morning in Aurora, Colorado, James Holmes attempted to destroy the world I hold dear. I haven’t been able to stop reading and watching reports about this senseless attack which took lives and wounded many in the process.

I’ve thought about ways to broach the subject with Hannah. I know she’ll hear about it from her friends and have questions. I just don’t know if I have the answers. I can deliver facts and explain what happened, but how do I explain the why?

She has, on occasion, expressed nighttime fears in our own home. I do my best to reassure her that this is her safe haven. A place that is ours, and to give in to these fears only allows those willing to do us harm here, to win.

The movie theaters are supposed a magical place. It’s supposed to be a safe place. A place where my daughter can dream of being a wizard, a princess, or a superhero. A place where I can share my love of this world and expose her to the ability to dream.

I haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet. I’m not really in the movie going mood. For now, this world has been spoiled. But I will return. I will not let people like James Holmes win in this world or any other I inhabit. I can’t let him have it. It belongs to us. The dreamers. The heroes. It belongs to my daughter. She deserves better.

5 Responses to How do I tell my daughter about a world with no superheroes?

  1. Lisa Linton says:

    Well said, Jason.

  2. Chris Dunn says:

    Don’t stop believing’, Jason (and Hannah).

    Although, it’s a sad world in which people can no longer wear superhero masks to the movies and police officers station themselves at the doors. In a way, James Holmes won.

  3. Markell says:

    More often, I find myself looking for exits, security details and trying to sit with my back against a wall when I’m in public venues trying to relax with family and friends. This is likely my post 9/11 defensive response. These mass shootings are scattered throughout the country and no one knows when the next seemingly “clean-cut” guy with no criminal record is going to snap. The good news is that these acts of inhumanity are infrequent. The bad news is that it could happen anywhere from the local convenience store, mall, school, sporting event, etc.
    James Holmes probably feels like a movie or comic book Joker, but with 70 shot and 12 dead, humor is lost.
    Unfortunately, we have to tell kids about some of the evil people we share the world with everyday. In retrospect, teach kids about the real life people who launch into heroic acts to counter the monsters.

  4. Jason says:

    That’s funny, I was behind and to the left of that Avenger’s premier photograph.

    Tell her the truth: Sometimes bad people do bad things for bad reasons. Sad as it is to say, but it’s a fact of life. Life can be bright and wonderful, but it can also be just as dark and disturbing.

    Tell her that yes, the bad people in the world are scary, but she shouldn’t let her fear of these horrible people, and their horrible actions, overwhelm her life. When horrible events like this happen, if you let that fear overcome you, even though you are not personally affected, then those people will maintain some form of negative influence over you long after the event has faded from the news. The terrorists win by people interrupting their daily lives, Loki lords over the people kneeling in the street, or maybe you stop playing a sport because you got beaned in the head by some jerk during gym class in school. But if people carry on their lives as normal as they can after a terrorist attack, the old man stands up to Loki, or you dust yourself off and catch that next line drive, then those bad people have less power over you.

    Honestly, though, the best thing you can do is be willing to sit down and listen to your children when they come to you with an issue about this sort of thing. Being willing to discuss these awful events with the kids, in a calm and rational matter, will probably (I’m no child psychologist, nor do I know you or your children) make them less disturbed by things like this when they happen.

  5. Magge says:

    Seems to me the superheros that day in CO were wearing badges.

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