Along with excitement and amazing visuals, the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo provide great teachable moments to share with our kids. Here are 10 to pass down (and perhaps remind ourselves along the way).
1 | Judge me by my size, do you?
Yoda is one of the greatest philosophers of our generation, spouting out little bits of wisdom. "Do or do not" is what he's most remembered by, but his observation about his stature is a deeply important one. Our world simply isn't built for children, and this can lead to a certain amount of frustration for kids who can't quite reach something, or who are made to feel that they can't accomplish anything until they're older and bigger.
Even the smallest among us can accomplish great things.
2 | Patience
Parents with toddlers will probably relate to this one. Kids aren't patient, for better or worse. The Jedi preach patience as a virtue, and it's a truly valuable lesson: Taking the time to learn a concept, read a situation, or accomplish a task is usually the best way to do it correctly. At the same time, it's important to be patient with children and to give them the time and space to learn and figure things out on their own.
3 | Appearances are deceiving
How often do we make a snap judgment based on someone's appearance, where they live, where they work, or what they do? When The Empire dispatched soldiers to Endor, they ignored the tiny Ewoks; even the Rebels underestimated them at first. When the time came to take the fight to the Empire, however, they became a vital ally that tipped the balance of the Battle of Endor to the Rebels' favor. Even tiny, teddy-bear-like aliens armed with stone-aged tools can surprise you when they're properly motivated!
4 | "What I told you was true, from a certain point of view."
This might be a bit harder for younger children to grasp, but Obi Wan's story to Luke about Anakin Skywalker being killed by Darth Vader was a nuanced one. It wasn't literally correct, but it was a situation in which nuance was needed.
Children will ask about complicated situations that will require some tact, whether that's discussion of a divorce, the loss of a pet, friend or loved one, or for why they're moving to another town and school. It’s a good skill for parents to learn to convey information to their children, but also a useful concept for children to grasp later in life.
5 | Friends over self
One of the most triumphant points in "A New Hope" is when Han Solo returns to the Battle of Yavin to save Luke. The moment was a selfless move that put the interests of his friends over his own self-interest. Kids are selfish by nature. We care for their needs almost exclusively, and teaching them to put others before themselves is a trait that will be important throughout their lives.
6 | Girls are heroic
The "Star Wars" saga doesn't have a great record with women. Despite its flaws, the films depicted incredibly heroic female characters such as Princess Leia, Mon Mothma, and Padme Amidala, as soldiers, but also as people in powerful positions in their world. "Star Wars" certainly isn't a boy's only arena, and that's important for both boys and girls to learn.
7 | Choices matter
In a lot of ways, "Star Wars" is about the choices people make. Luke decides to help Obi-Wan deliver the Death Star plans to Alderaan. Han Solo decides to return and save Luke at Yavin. Luke decides to rescue his friends at Cloud City, and Darth Vader decides to save his son from the Emperor. Making good decisions is something that we'll do throughout our lives, and the earlier children learn that particular skill, the better it is for everyone.
8 | Evil can be redeemed
Good and Evil are two major concepts that "Star Wars" plays with: the light side and the dark side. The factions are mirrored nicely in the film's production – red light sabers for the bad guys, green and blue for the good guys. "Star Wars" is a classic story of good triumphing over evil, but in the larger story, it portrays the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, which shows that things aren't always black and white.
9 | The world is a diverse place
One of the more notable things with the release of "Star Wars" was the creature and alien design. There were earlier science fiction films out there that had incorporated aliens, but there is nothing out there that really compared to the impact of seeing the Mos Eisley Cantina for the first time. Here was a group of aliens that weren't involved in an invasion or even had any central importance to the plot – they were just filling in the world by having a drink or talking business. With the wide-open world of Star Wars comes incredible diversity, much like our own.
10 | Imagine
Star Wars had a huge impact on the artistic world – think of all of the movie directors, authors, scientists, and everyone else who were inspired by the films and went on to do great things. The film proved to be a force-multiplier for our imaginations by showing us an entirely new world in which to play. A vivid imagination is something that should be nurtured and grown, and "Star Wars" is one great way to get it supercharged.
There is a skate park in our town, built sometime in the decade before we moved here. It’s steep concrete bowls are confined to a space that could park a half dozen cars. It’s because of this park that our youngest son received a used skateboard from his best friend on his seventh birthday. We saw excitement, not determination. That would come later. But, that skateboard, in a tiny skatepark in rural Colorado was the fuel for a dream. By his eighth birthday he wanted to be a professional skateboarder. His mind was made up.
My tiny little fighter, beating the odds from the moment you entered the world. A world you shouldn’t have been in yet, a world you fought so hard to stay in, a world that you weren’t ready for, but thrived in all the same. I know you will continue through life with this same desire and determination to succeed. My little fighter. Don’t ever stop fighting for what you want.