Casey Winters, father of two and co-host of the geeky fiction-themed podcast Hello from Elsewhere, tells us about how Star Wars has become central to his family and why his little ones love Leia. You can chat with Casey directly on Twitter @icecreammanatee.
Did you make a conscious decision to introduce your little one to Star Wars, or did it happen more organically?
It was a bit of both? I always knew I would introduce it to them, but the introduction was gradual and organic. With my oldest, he just watched bits and pieces of the movies when I had them on, and quickly grew to love the franchise. With our second child, it was even more organic—my oldest was already talking about Star Wars, watching it, reading about it, playing the toys, etc. So for our second child, she had Star Wars around her all the time even more so than our firstborn.
How does this approach compare to your own introduction?
I expect they are similar. For me, I don’t remember a time before Star Wars—I grew up in the VHS era of the franchise, so we watched them often. My earliest memories are intertwined with Star Wars.
When I became a father, I debated whether to introduce it to them early, or wait until they were a little older to appreciate aspects differently. For example, parents often post online videos of showing their 5- to 10-year-old children the parental twist in The Empire Strikes Back. But honestly, I couldn’t wait that long. That’s a difficult feat when Star Wars is such a big part of your adult life. For me, the knowledge of Vader being Luke’s father has always been there—this will also be true for my own children.
What advice would you give to parents looking to introduce their own child to the franchise?
If you are passionate about something and share that passion in positive ways, and if you make that passion a family endeavour, there’s a strong chance that they’ll love it too. This is true for Star Wars, as it is for any other franchise or hobby.
Also, find the things about the universe that interest your children and cultivate that, even if it doesn’t interest you. If you spend all your time loving the Original Trilogy, but your son or daughter is enamoured with Naboo starfighters and podracing and clone troopers, let them have that space to love it! (And just maybe their passion for that part of Star Wars will rub off on you.) The Star Wars galaxy is rich and encompasses myriad aspects to love—there’s space for different avenues of fandom, and they should all be celebrated.
Has Star Wars brought you closer together as a family and, if so, how?
Absolutely. If there’s one constant, daily topic in my house, it’s Star Wars, and at this point, that comes even more from my oldest son (age 6) than from me. Every evening at dinner he asks, “Let’s talk about Star Wars. What do you want to talk about?” And Star Wars is a never-ending font of discussion topics.
On the surface, Star Wars is beautiful for our family because it leads to exciting family movie watching and imaginative play. (How did our house get so full of Star Wars LEGO and action figures, with the vinyl record for Return of the Jedi playing in the background?) But Star Wars also provides ways of discussing morality and social politics. Star Wars is embedded in themes of love, sacrifice, emotion, and learning from failure: positive lessons all families need.
Who do you think is the best role model in the franchise and why?
Both my son’s and my daughter’s favourite character is Leia, and I think the messages her character sends to audiences, both overtly and subtly, are invaluable: her abilities and knowledge lead her to help or save her friends on multiple occasions, her attitude and personality make her a courageous leader, and her endurance through years of galaxy-wide war and intimate family turmoil is remarkable.
George Lucas always said that Star Wars is for children, so tell us what your kid(s) think about the franchise?
Son (6): “I like the technology. I like that it’s set in the past but kind of in the future.”
Daughter (3): “I like Leia.”
Categories: Parents & Padawans