Staring into the Parenting Abyss…

Everyone knows that when you stare into the abyss it stares back. Well, the same principle applies to parenting: imparting wisdom upon another human being forces you to stare into dark corners of your consciousness – whether you like it or not.

Arrow is a television series that explores the quest of former carefree playboy turned vigilante Oliver Queen to free the city he loves of corruption and organized crime. It airs on the CW, so the sets are stylized, every character is beautiful, and surprisingly enough, the violence is all-too real. The show has become a staple for my daughter Sarah and I and this week’s show was particularly exciting for a hardcore nerd like myself: the DC Universe super heroine, The Huntress (a.k.a Helena Bertinelli) , was introduced.

I’ll spare those of you who don’t worship at the altar of all-things superhero the full breakdown, but here’s what you need to know: The Huntress’ fiancée was murdered by a mob enforcer. When she confronts said enforcer, she exacts vengeance in the form of a blow that snaps his neck. Oliver Queen watches with a look of horror, which is particularly ironic considering he has just snapped the neck of another villain.

THE HOOK: Wow, this show is pretty brutal.

SARAH: What do you mean?

THE HOOK: Both heroes just snapped the necks of their opponents. Super heroes don’t usually engage in such behavior; they’re supposed to be better than the bad guys.

SARAH: It was justified. Helena was avenging her fiancée.

And there it was.

At first I assumed Sarah’s point of view sprung from a youthful naivete, a child-like sense of right and wrong. When you’re a kid, the world is black and white, pure and simple, right? But my daughter is fourteen and I can honestly say that she carries herself with more maturity than most adults I encounter.

So now I have to ask myself how I feel about heroes that kill.

I’ve watched thousands of hours of television and movies featuring both stylized and brutal violence, but it was fictional and as such I’ve been conditioned to accept it on its face and move on.

But you can’t move on when you’re a parent. Realistically, its highly unlikely that my daughter will ever encounter a situation that forces her to examine her views on capital punishment, never mind capital punishment carried out by an individual. But if she does, I’d like her to approach the situation with a balance of compassion and honor. I believe our justice system has lost sight of the concept of justice in favor of respecting the modern laws we have written as a civilized society, but I also believe that hero has to have a sense of morality and honor.

Ultimately, Sarah will form her own views on life’s many questions and will live her life accordingly; however, it’s my responsibility to  make sure she begins that journey filled with love and compassion, not hate and indifference.

And yes, all this soul-searching really did spring from watching a television show about a superhero named Green Arrow. Don’t ever tell me comic books are just for kids.



Benjamin Wallace is a new friend but a true one. Like Vina Kent, – and Jo Bryant before her – he’s come through with helpful tips and contacts where others have  brushed me off, in a friendly way, of course. Check his site out. He’s blazing a new trail for dumb, white husbands everywhere…


A shout-out to my blog buddy, Kristen Lamb and her best-selling tome, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Give it a try, folks. You won’t be disappointed…


A fellow bellman and artiste/filmmaker extraordinaire, Joseph Mancini, has created a new digital presence to share with the world. Show him some of that awesome devotion you’ve bestowed upon yours truly and check his work out, okay? I appreciate it, folks. Until next time. stay cool…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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66 Responses to Staring into the Parenting Abyss…

  1. jmlindy422 says:

    Comic books are absolutely not just for kids. We watched the Justice League with both of our kids and the discussions afterward were amazingly adult.

  2. mairedubhtx says:

    Kids–they make you think about what it is you really value and then try to impart those values to them despite the influences of TV, movies, comic books, etc. It isn’t easy.

  3. trooperstale says:

    I like it…..a thoughtful bit of insight.

    My grand kids are 4 and six now (going on 25 and 35) I took them to a Memorial Day’s service on November 11th. I know I’ll get some sort of commentary eventually.

  4. raisingdaisy says:

    Isn’t it interesting to see things from our kids’ perspectives? We watch the same things along with them, yet our interpretations are so very different. I think it’s great that you’re such a responsible parent – we need more like you.
    And I totally agree with you about our “justice” systems.

  5. twindaddy says:

    Sounds like she’s got her head on straight, to me.

  6. Diane C says:

    Comic books are not just Archie and Jughead anymore. Not only are they not just for kids now, they are being taught at university. Last year at Bishop’s University, my daughter took a course on graphic novels. They studied things like V for Vendetta and Batman. And what about Maus by Art Spiegelman – it won the Pulitzer Prize. And Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki catches the pain and angst of being a teenagers as well as any novel I’ve ever read! Nope, not just for kids anymore.

  7. Love this post! Lately music has been the target of my soul searching. When I was younger I couldn’t stand grown ups who blamed negative music for negative attitudes. I listened for the “groove, the beat” but now, I find myself appalled more and more at what my teenagers listen to, and I know I could ban the particular songs in just a “because I said so” kind of move, but I’d rather reach their hearts in a way that makes them say “why would anyone sing along to this?”

  8. TBM says:

    A very thoughtful post Hook. Vigilante justice is something that scares me since one person should never be judge and jury. But our justice system can be flawed on many occasions. I had a terrible experience when I served on a jury and it really made me ashamed and angry.

  9. tteclod says:

    Spoiler! I hadn’t watched that episode yet! 😉

  10. Phil Gayle_For Singles and Couples says:

    Ditto Rob,
    I constantly find myself doing the Q&A any time the kids and I watch sci-fi.
    Or I make the “Now that’s not morally right is it?” question/statement loudly while the movie/show is on, just to get them to question what they’re are watching.
    Kids hey…who’d have ’em…lol!
    Your first book is on it’s way to me, I should receive it by the end of the week.
    It will be on my reading list for December. 😉

  11. Kids see things without the side noises that clutter adults’ minds from the years of experiences.. It’s good for both to talk and listen.
    Nobody notices the deterioration/morphing the justice system has undergone – until it impacts you or those close to you. The realization of what passes for “justice” is then appalling.

  12. susielindau says:

    A parent’s job is never done… It is great to keep an open mind and open communication like you have!

  13. The brain’s ‘frontal lobe’ (responsible for critical thinking, judgment, organization, planning,etc.,) is one of the last aspects to be developed. This development doesn’t reach its critical point until the early 20’s… So, my dear Hook; this means that, as a parent it is your solemn duty to help young Sarah to define life in the most sensitive manner possible (at all times remembering the limitations of the teenage brain, and her, sometimes black and white approach).
    As for the moral dilemma’s posed by those making a living from sensational media highways; it must be remembered they have not necessarily your child’s interest at heart. As an adult (well, most adults) we can shift reality whilst viewing/reading however, we know we are doing this..! Not so for the young and vulnerable…!

  14. becca3416 says:

    All you can do is point in the right direction and hope she knows how to interpret the traffic signs correctly. It’s nice that y’all watch shows together :).

  15. I’m enjoying this Arrow series very much, The Hook, but I’m a few episodes behind you here in the UK… the Huntress episode is coming up in a few weeks. I’m with you with the whole heroes snapping necks train of thought… Wonder Woman never did anything like that in the seventies, but she does nowadays. How times have changed! The right and wrong path seems to have become a little overgrown of late, but there’s still a clear part down the middle… however sometimes it’s a struggle to find it.

  16. rebecca2000 says:

    It is interesting to see how kids respond to these things. I read a study recently that children process violence different depending on the form. If the child is over 10 and it is a fiction based violence (ie superhero, vampire, ninja) they won’t take it to heart. It was an interesting read. I don’t remember the source as it was something my friend was studying for grad school.

  17. Ray's Mom says:

    Did you check for the black hat? A true give away of the bad guys.

  18. Love it!! Although I am not a super hero/comic kinda gal, I still got the point. Whew!…LOL
    It is our “responsibility to make sure she begins that journey filled with love and compassion, not hate and indifference”.
    Sounds to me like you have done a damn fine job!
    I enjoy reading your blog and I think in some ways we may even have the same perspective on parenting! 😉 When you write about your daughter I hear a different ‘tone’ filled with such love and pride..I like that side of you.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love the sarcastic, dark and witty bellman as well!

  19. Jennifer says:

    I stared into the abyss once… Not sure I’ve ever recovered. Good points though, my boys are right into the violent games, and while we don’t discuss these things as such, they seem to have their heads screwed on right.

  20. First, I like that you and your daughter watch television together. You’ve probably had good communication with her all along if she’s fourteen and wants to spend time with you. She sounds like she’s on solid footing, and that comes from you and your wife. Good post, and good job of parenting.

  21. Michael says:

    I didn’t know they had made that show; I’d heard rumors. I’ll have to look into that.

  22. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    I love your silly posts, but I love these reflective ones even more, perhaps because of how starkly they stand apart.

    As my son is starting to mirror his comic-loving parents more and more, the questions you pose here are ones I’m finding myself confronted with. Right now, I’m starting to see a him apart from me take shape. My greatest hope for him is not that he’ll be a doctor or a lawyer or the president but–as you so eloquently said–that he be guided by love and compassion.

  23. Angelia Sims says:

    I am a BIG fan of superhero/comic series. I will definitely have to look it up. 🙂 I didn’t realize The Walking Dead was a comic book series until my husband told me. :-O

  24. leah says:

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again. You and your wife are raising a gem of a daughter. Period. The end.

  25. >The show has become a staple for my daughter Sarah and I
    – Just like my daddy and I watched Jeopardy and Nat Geo together. *sniff*

    There, I got the sap out of the way.

    >I’ll spare those of you who don’t worship at the altar of all-things superhero
    – You’re looking at me, aren’t you, Hook? I just don’t get that, um, stuff. *meep*

    >At first I assumed Sarah’s point of view sprung from a youthful naivete, a child-like sense of right and wrong. When you’re a kid, the world is black and white, pure and simple, right?
    – Right. The world IS black and white at fourteen because at that age, the shades of grey brought on by personal experience or even close enough experiences, have yet to surface.

    >But my daughter is fourteen and I can honestly say that she carries herself with more maturity than most adults I encounter.
    – That is only where her thinking and limited life experience are concerned. As she experiences more, so will her understanding of the RGB palette of life.

    >Ultimately, Sarah will form her own views on life’s many questions and will live her life accordingly; however, it’s my responsibility to make sure she begins that journey filled with love and compassion, not hate and indifference.
    – And you and your wife are doing a darned fine job, Hook. Spending time with Sarah the way you do, you’re ensuring a solid taproot; something she will tap into as her foliage continues to grow.

    “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” ~ Denis Waitley (American motivational speaker and suthor of self-help books. Born 1933.)


  26. Excellent ponderings. A teachable moment can come from anything, especially something in which you both share an interest. I had a startling realization tonight while holding my baby – that she WILL have her own thoughts in her head, outside of mine. Of course I knew this to some extent, especially since I have a toddler. But to really appreciate that she’s encountering the world and forming opinions? It made me trip a little.

  27. Catherine Johnson says:

    I think its great to connect and share values with kids over T.V. It all starts with Tom and Jerry. Your daughter sounds very mature.
    Popped over from Susie’s!

  28. Hook, I love this post. We are a family who loves superheroes (both Marvel and DC). I love that my dudes get excited to watch The Avengers and more. I think there is a lot to be learned from comic book characters, and I love seeing things from their (my dudes) point of view. When we watched the new Spider-man film, my youngest said, “Mommy, he is having a hard time understanding how to be Spider-man. I feel bad for him.” A wise little guy!

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