As a Jew I do look to Torah to find heroes and heroines. Purim which is celebrated The story of Purim is told in the book of Esther. This is the short version of the story as told by the Chabad.
The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem. King Ahasuerus loved Esther more than his other women and made Esther queen, but the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her identity.
The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, Haman told the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people’s, and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.” Esther 3:8.
The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.
Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king’s presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went into the king. He welcomed her. Later, she told him of Haman’s plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman and his ten sons were hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.
The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the Bible that does not contain the name of G-d. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to G-d. Mordecai makes a vague reference to the fact that the Jews will be saved by someone else, if not by Esther, but that is the closest the book comes to mentioning G-d. Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that G-d often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.
This would be, of course, too long and complicated a story for the pre-schooler and probably only good for talking about more fully when middle school is reached. Then the questions can become even more complicated when the child enters the teen years.
Religious Jews celebrate Purim with a kind of costume party where many little girls are dressed up as Queen Esther, but so are the women; boys and men dress up as the King or Mordecai. The main message is celebrating the survival of the Jews.
The media and the Disney media support lots of heros and heroines, and makae every girl a princess and every boy a prince. Video games also promote different types of hero and heroine worship — some good and some bad. What is a parent to do.
Parenting tip one: Accept that your children will seek and identify with one or another charactor in the stories they are told about heroes and heroines.
Parenting tip two: Give some thought to the ones you want to promote.
Parenting tip three: Promote the qualities that the child can share with the hero or heroine.
Parenting tip four: Talk about the hero or heroine at the level the child can understand. With Esther for example “She was brave and didn’t want her family hurt.” is what preschoolers can understand. With Moridecai, teens can be asked to ponder the fact that he gave his niece to the king’s harem. Good or bad?
Parenting tip five: Kids do sometimes pick “bad” heroes or heroines, video games seem to encourage that. Sports heroes are sometimes so intent on winning they become vicious. Handle such choices by finding out what appeals to the child, and trying to find replacement heroes with better values. Support that but at the same time promote the values of caring as being those that lead to the good life.
LINKS OF INTEREST
- Worshiping Athletes, Not So Hot (psychologytoday.com)
- Age and Stage Information (healthychild.org)
- When Good Kids Do Bad Things (amazon.org)
- Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
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Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult but staying strong lets me find the good.