One of my favorite movie trilogies growing up was “Star Wars.” First of all it was just a great story. Secondly, I loved to wear my hair in Princess Leia buns going to school, and third, what girl didn’t have a crush on Han Solo? One of my favorite scenes in “Star Wars” is when the Resistance is bombing the Death Star. They have one shot to send a missile to its weak point which will set off a chain reaction and destroy the Death Star and the Empire forever. One of the pilots gets distracted by the enemy planes, and another pilot says, “Stay on target.” “But they’re everywhere,” says the other pilot. “Stay on target.” Then BOOM! The distracted pilot is destroyed.
It was a tense moment in the movie. Everything hinged on a pilot who was not distracted and who could have the nerve to fly forward in the face of overwhelming odds and fire bombs into the Death Star’s weak link. Of course it is Luke Skywalker, the one who listens to the Force, who ends up successfully sending the destroying missile that annihilate the Death Star. Darth Vader, meanwhile, is spinning out of control in his plane back through the galaxy.
So what does this have to do with anything? It is a very good analogy to family life.
I’ve seen parents leave the raising of their children up to their children. Their children are offered no boundaries, no guidelines, no rules, no anything, and I had seen firsthand the chaos that ensues in these families later down the road. I have also seen parents who meet their children at the crossroads. They are there when their children come home from school, read to them, spend time with them, ask them questions about their day, their friends, school, set boundaries, etc., etc. Parents are the wing men. They are the ones encouraging their children to stay on target.
Is this easy to do? When my kids were little, I rarely got resistance when I told them to clean their rooms or make their beds or get ready for their bath, or do their homework. But as they got older, especially around the teen years, I got LOTS of resistance. My children were ready to test the boundaries of everything: why did they have to be home at a certain hour at night (curfew), or why couldn’t they date so and so, or why couldn’t they get a tattoo, or why couldn’t they wear a particular outfit, or why did they have to go to school that day.
They didn’t realize that all of these tests for me were pilot lessons for them, that my husband and I were prepared and ready to help them stay on course and see them do their best. At times they thought we were the evil Empire, but occasionally (and correctly) they believe we really do love them. We really do have their best interests at heart, and we actually aren’t just trying to make their lives miserable. It took some time for our older children to realize this, and now instead of balking, they actually seek us out for wisdom and counsel, especially now that a couple of them are getting ready to fly the coop.
It’s hard to be a parent. You make lots of mistakes. You watch your children make lots of mistakes. It’s hard to stay the course and see them through to adulthood and offer advice that you believe would benefit them. (And I’m learning that your job as parent isn’t finished once their adults either.) For me, I just try to do my best. I help them try to do their best, and we all just try to stay on target.