When I was a boy, I was enthralled with heroes. I was able to count some people close to me, like Grandpa and Great-Grandpa, in those ranks, but it was the larger-than-life characters that really had my attention. I idolized Abraham Lincoln, Chesty Puller, and others. I read everything I could find, their examples providing something – like compassion, sacrifice, and honor – this young boy could hope to emulate.
My boys are now old enough to start looking for heroes themselves, which is inevitable since dads can only occupy the pedestal alone for so long and “Piccachu” is (God willing) a temporary addition.
As I look at the landscape of potential candidates, I’m disheartened. I can just imagine the inevitable hero discussion with my kids.
“Dad what do you think of that General?”
“He was great on the battlefield, but I can’t forget about his mistress.”
“Well, Dad, what about that athlete?”
“Steroids son. He cheated to win.”
“OK, how about that politician, Dad?”
There are deeper discussions about personal conduct and media coverage, I know, but at a basic level who my kids look up to is one of the first decisions that they will make on their own, and I can’t help but try to influence the choice, especially with such a depleted list of prospects as we find today.
For example, due to my influence, my boys are probably a little too knowledgeable about Abraham Lincoln — to the extent that my oldest son William feels a kinship with Willie Lincoln, which wasn’t a problem until he realized that Willie died young and now questions his own chances at longevity. No strategy is perfect.
While I realize that no one, heroes included, is perfect, I still hope that someone of character catches my kids’ attention before they get swept up in the hype that surrounds the “heroes” of today. And I pray that later, their chosen favorites don’t self-destruct.
As a father I will continue to guide my boys’ choices; however, ultimately, they alone will decide who to admire. I just hope that Pokemon falls off the list soon.
Chris Donnelly is married with three children. You can read him every other Thursday on momaha.com
Whom do you admire? Who is your hero?
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