May 4, 2016

When Reading Comic Books Made Me a Better Parent

A meditation on parenting and “Ms. Marvel,” one of the most delightful comic books I’ve read in quite some time.

Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Khan

It’s been far too long since I’ve written anything for Christ and Pop Culture — being an editor there keeps me plenty busy — but my latest CAPC piece went up earlier this week. It’s a meditation of sorts on parenting and Ms. Marvel, one of the most delightful comic books I’ve read in quite some time (and that includes The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl).

One of the most convicting Bible verses for me is Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” As a parent, I like to focus on the chapter’s preceding verses, which begin with “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right,” and leave it at that. I don’t like to focus on the warning directed at me and the implication that I am responsible, not just for my kids’ emotional state (by not provoking them) but also for their spiritual state (by disciplining and instructing them). When parenting gets hard, I want it to be my way or the highway. I want to be sovereign over my household and heaven help any kid who doesn’t get in line, shape up, and snap to attention. I don’t want to nurture or instruct; I want to be obeyed, pure and simple.

As soon as I read Mrs. Khan’s reaction, all of my anger, frustration, and disappointment — all of my desire for sovereignty — simply… faded.

For what it’s worth, my wife says it’s her favorite article of mine to date.

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