Superheros and Villains: In Which I Consider Good vs. Evil and How To Explain It To A Four-Year-Old

“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

While watching the Bruins game with Klayton the other night a commercial for the new ‘Batman vs. Superman’ came on. 

Really? Come on.

I just find this whole notion completely ridiculous.

Superman is a hero. A super-hero. Literally, the definition of a superhero is ‘a very heroic person’. It implies all of the things that we secretly wish we could be – brave, strong, amazing, possessing supernatural powers, full of never-ending goodness, and a life-long devotion to protect the weak.

Superman can’t be evil.

He is a superhero. He is good.

This is like saying that a red car is blue, and continuing to insist that it is blue when it is really red.

I will never willingly watch this movie. The whole notion is absurd.

But I haven’t been able to get this whole topic of good and evil out of my head.

Good and evil surround us every day.

The other day in Hannaford’s we had the unfortunate experience of not getting one of the three Race Car shopping carts that both fit and entertain Ellie and Kreade. So, Kreade ended up riding solo in the ‘old fashioned’ shopping cart while Ellie had to tag along beside me. Ellie is a very cautious child, and she almost always follows the rules to a perfect T. She helped me fill the cart with bananas, lettuce, carrots, rice, and all of the other things that we needed. What a helpful little dear. But as we were nearing the end of one aisle and preparing to move on the the next she ran ahead of me, out of the aisle, and into the great unknown beyond the reach of my hand.

I had a moment of panic.

Yes, we live in a small town. But you just never know. 

You never know if the other people in the grocery store are truly good, or truly evil. And while you certainly hope and pray that they are all truly good, you really just never know…there could always be that one who is truly evil.

Good and evil surround us every day.

With Ellie now holding on the the shopping cart, and my mind racing all I can think is: how do you explain to a four year old that not everyone in the world is good?

Parenting is hard. It is really very hard. You never think about all of these conversations that you will have to have with your children when you are holding their sweet, tiny bodies in the hospital.

You are responsible for your child’s perception of the world around them. You are responsible for the way that they view people. Their mind is yours, and the stories that you write in it will be with them forever.

Of course, you could simply just avoid these conversations with the age-old “I told you so.” Why can’t I run three aisles down from you?” “Because I told you so.”

But they never really understand.

And as my college professor always said  “they’re short, not stupid”. They will know that you aren’t being honest with them.

We have the opportunity to take these moments up, and not let them pass us by. We have the opportunity to teach our children, and begin to shape and form their hearts.

Yes, parenting is the greatest adventure of them all.

The greatest and the most difficult.

But what do you say?

What a difficult balance between instilling a sense of caution without causing fear. So I do my best to explain to my four year old darling that not everyone in the world has her best interest at heart. Not everyone can be trusted – and some people might even hurt you. So it is very important to stay with mommy so that she can make sure you are safe.

Kids don’t need to be lied to. They need to understand. And the lesson of good and evil begins when they are young – though I wish it didn’t have to be so at all.

But I don’t want to leave her with the caution only. I also want her to be confident. Most people are good. Most people can be trusted. You can smile at people. You can say “hello”. And so much of teaching children to distinguish between good and evil is to talk about things constantly. Teach them to identify good – acts of kindness, reaching out to the shy kid at preschool, staying with mommy in the grocery store. If they know what good is, they won’t have to wonder what evil is.

Give them the confidence to know what good is, and then to go out into the world and BE good.

Because good and evil are everywhere. We cannot escape the darkness that tries to surround. The fear sits there, like eyes peering at you out of the shadows. And your heart begins to ache with the burden of protecting your children from this. From anything that could take the form of evil.

And you fear.

How do you really teach your baby that the world is full of anything less than good?

Because it’s not. And this is our reality.

So, my dear Ellie and Kreade, I want you to know that this world is full of evil. It is full of things that can harm you. Full of people who are anything but good. It is full of heartbreak and heartache and pain. It is a world that is broken, angry, and selfish. And evil is almost everywhere you turn.

I want you to know that evil is there.

But in knowing this, don’t let fear fill your heart.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Because as long as evil exists in this world, good exists too. You can’t have one without the other.

So, my beautiful babies, I want you to go out into the world and BE good.

This is what God calls us to do in the face of evil. Not to fear. Not to hide. Not to be swallowed up in wishing that evil does not exist.

Overcome evil with good.

Fight for truth and justice.

Though I wish I could always be there to protect you, an imposibility this remains. But God is. Trust your heart.

And always know that I love you more than anything.

And yet He loves you so much more.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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