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When 4-Year-Olds Stop Believing in Superheroes

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I’m thrilled to be on The Washington Post today, with my latest piece, “What happens when 4-year-olds stop believing in superheroes, but not bad guys?” It’s about my little guy’s latest worry: If there’s no Batman, then who will protect him from the bad guys?

Here is a sneak peek:

“Mommy, are there real bad guys?”

My 4-year-old son has been asking me this question every night. He’s going through a superhero phase, and is obsessed with the Justice League. Lately, he’s concerned about bad guys. He wants to know what Mommy and Daddy plan to do about them.

When I was pregnant, I never expected parenting to be so philosophical. Because, you see, these questions are more complicated than they seem. They began with other, equally confusing questions, such as, “Are Batman and Superman real?” Read the full article.

Do your little ones ask questions you don’t know how to answer? Do they believe in superheroes? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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9 Comments

  1. This is lovely. I think it is wonderful that your son is so articulate in expressing his fears and feels comfortable in expressing them to you. So, keep that sword handy, Superhero Mom!

  2. Aww it is hard telling them the truth sometimes, especially when they are so little! Heading over to check out the full article!

  3. Great essay! My son worries all of the time about this kind of stuff. It’s so hard (and heartbreaking) to explain to him how the world works. Right now he is stuck on questions about death. Sigh …

  4. This is beautifully written. The world is a tumultuous place and the age of technology means our kids are privy to more than the generations before them. Your son seems so insightful and deep. I think you’ve dealt with this really well even though you have faced a number of difficult questions.

    • Thanks, Alana. It’s amazing what they overhear too. They are learning about real bad guys in ways that we never did as kids. I try to protect their innocence, but it’s hard today. Thanks for reading!

  5. I’ve gotten these same questions from my son and have struggled with how to answer. Wish kids didn’t have to grow up so quickly these days!

  6. I love this article so much. As a mom to one (with a second on the way!) I am terrified of the day that my daughter will learn the harsh realities of the world around her. Right now she is adventurous and wants to be Dora and grow up to be a cat. I fear the day that she will shy away from traveling the playground or meowing to her hearts content. It is going to be so hard to explain the hardships of the world to someone with such a pure and simple soul. Side note- yes, she does still believe in superheros. She thinks she is one (and to be honest, I do too!)

    • Your daughter sounds amazing. My son has lately decided that he is a superhero, and goes everywhere in his Batman costume. I guess if Mommy isn’t a superhero, and the Batman on the TV isn’t real, he’s going to be the superhero in all our lives. I’m glad we have a protector. And I love that your daughter wants to grow up to be a cat. They have such great imaginations!

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