Heroes aren’t perfect. They don’t have superpowers. Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things because they refuse to quit, blame others or lash out when things get hard. This is as true for parents as it is children.
Rather than seeing parenting as a style or type, we see the experience of being parents as a journey. All parents get to make a choice to move from ordinary parenting to extraordinary living – what we call “heroic parenting.” This choice transforms family life from a stressed out, barely-hanging-on experience to one that is rich, meaningful and fun.
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll unwind the phrase “heroic parents” as a contrast to “ordinary parents” with a series of brief lessons and a call to action.
As a caveat, I am an ordinary parent who is choosing a hero’s journey. As always, these lessons are for me, too. I share them in hopes they will help you on your own parenting journey.
Lesson #1: Heroic parents are learners. Ordinary parents have already gone to school.
This mindset changes everything. As a learner, I become a better listener, a curious seeker and an active player in daily life. My children are no longer vessels to fill and mold but mysterious wonders from whom I can discover great truths – even about myself. As a learner, I engage equally with my children in problem-solving, planning, even playing.
One of my favorite examples of a heroic parent came from an Acton mom. She told me the story of the day her son came home with a very low “360 score.” (Acton Academy’s peer review about kindness, servant leadership and overall community participation.) He was very upset which made the mom very upset. She kept thinking to herself, “This is too hard for kids! They can’t handle feedback like this! I think I’ll email Jeff and Laura.” But then she listened deeply – as a learner – to her son. He said, “Mom, I’m not upset about the feedback. It’s right! I’m mad at myself. I’m going to get better but right now I’m just mad.” If she had not listened and learned about his personal experience, she would have jumped in and tried to fix it. Her son is now one of the strongest servant leaders we have on campus.
Joseph Campbell described living the hero’s journey as a life lived in self-discovery. What a wondrous twist on parenting.