The latest book in the Asterix series “Asterix And The Chieftain’s Daughter” is full of parenting gems and wisdom. The comic book is as enjoyable as always and the parenting counsels are a pleasant addition. It has been interwoven with the narrative so brilliantly that the reader barely notices them, yet the impact is hard-hitting and remains with the reader much after s/he has completed the story.
The book is about Adrenalin, the teenage daughter of the defeated Gaulish chief Vercingetorix. Julius Caesar wants to capture her. For Adrenalin’s safe-keeping, till they raise an army, her two foster fathers bring her to the little Gaulish village, we know so well. Vitalstatistix orders Asterix and Obelix to keep a watch on Adrenaline. However, the girl, who is a bolter, has other ideas. We are also introduced to Blinix and Selfipix, the teenage sons of Unhygienix and Fulliautomatix.
The above context, which could have been a regular Roman bash-up story, which it is; and in addition the author also gives parenting lessons. Some parenting advice is mentioned explicitly and a few of them are embedded throughout the storyline.
Here we go:
- Violence won’t get you anywhere with children. Remember, talk and nothing else.
- The teenage years are a difficult time. Be gentle and don’t upset the kid.
- It won’t do the parent any good, over-parenting the young like that.
- The main thing is that the child gets plenty of character.
- All that really matters is our children’s happiness.
The above is mentioned clearly. The below requires a context and we have plenty of it in our daily lives.
- Her father told her to resist conquest and to be free, and that’s what she did…in her own way.
The parents can wish and have ambition for their children. The children, in turn, should be free to have their own interpretation. The parents’ desire to having a safe and sound future for their kids can be fulfilled by children in ways and means that parents may not have even imagined. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.
- I am not wearing girls’ tunics.
Girls do not have to wear pink. Boys do not have to wear blue. The identity is not shaped by what is worn by norms and traditions, but by what is carried by self-belief and conviction. The parents can get bound by gender stereotypes; however, there is no such need for kids to be shackled down to. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.
- Wherever I go, Alesia breaks out all over again, I can’t take it anymore. / I’m so over people using me and my torc to start wars.
The kids are not the means to further the hostile cause for the warring adults. For that matter, the kids are not the means to further any type of cause for any kind of adults, even well-meaning ones. The children have to be free to choose the cause of their liking, and even not to choose, should they want to. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.
- Blinix and Selfipix have no interest in their fathers’ battles and vocations. They actually fancy exchanging their trades.
The parents’ task is to give exposure to their kids, enable them to think and act. The parents’ have to facilitate the kids to grow up to be the individuals with their own judgement, identity and application. The kids are not the means to further the parents’ reasons, leave alone the vocation. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.
- What are the Gauls like? A throwaway society, they consume and then boom, they throw away.
Remember, what is broken is not repaired by people who have been party to it and allowed it to rot to reach its current stage. The adults do not, always, get it right. The kids have a stake in tomorrow’s society and the world for they are going to inherit it. The children may not have a charitable opinion about the social order they are growing up in. And, that has to be actually fine for parents.
I am sure that there are more parenting lessons in “Asterix And The Chieftain’s Daughter” than what I could muster above.
To be honest, it is not easy to imbibe the above lessons in me. As a first step, I have kept the book away from my twin daughters’ reach. They are sure to ask uncomfortable questions about me and my behaviour basis their interpretation of what they read in the book. They have every right to do so. I am doing a soul-searching to arrive at potential answers and show perceptible changes in me. After all, parenting is growing up together.
Never had I thought that apart from the usual dose of fun and laughter, an Asterix comic would have so much to offer in parenting lessons.
Please do read “Asterix And The Chieftain’s Daughter” and share your thoughts.