These were probably the most shocking words of my young life. I remember watching “The Empire Strikes Back” and having to catch my breath as I tried to process this information. “No, that’s not true! That’s impossible!” I couldn’t tell if it was Luke shrieking those words or if it was me.
That one father moment has stayed with me even into my adult life, and taught me many things. You might be saying to yourself, “Is this guy really going to give us parenting lessons according to Darth Vader?” Well, shake your head in disbelief if you will, but yes. Even the Dark Lord of the Sith, terrible father figure that he was most of the time, taught me a valuable thing or two about fatherhood.
1. Strong bonds exist between dads and their children, and those bonds are there whether the dads are present or not.
When Luke wants to go off to join the Academy, his uncle tells him “no,” and Luke storms off. Aunt Beru then tells Uncle Owen, “Luke’s just not a farmer, Owen. He’s got too much of his father in him.” Even though he’s not in Luke’s life, Vader and Luke still exhibit many of the same traits. Both are exceptional pilots, both are crack shots, and both have the Force strong within them.
“I want to become a Jedi like my father.” Luke doesn’t realize what he’s saying yet, but this proclamation in “Episode IV: A New Hope” is typical of our children, too. They look up to us, whether we think we deserve it or not, so we have something to live up to.
3. Even when dads make mistakes, their kids still love them.
Luke says to Vader, “I sense the good in you, father,” right before he’s taken prisoner. That faith is what helps Vader realize that maybe there is good in him and allows him to turn back to light. There really is nothing quite like the love you get from your children. Their love for us makes us want to be better people.
4. Dads always want the best for their kids.
Vader offers Luke the chance to rule the Empire when he says, “Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!” Like I said, Darth Vader isn’t the best role model. I wouldn’t recommend galactic domination as something to pass on to your kids, but in a weird way, he is looking out for his son. Who wouldn’t want his child to have job security?
When Luke calls out to his father for help, even decades of manipulation and training are not enough to keep Vader from betraying the Emperor and saving his son. When push comes to shove, dads have an innate instinct to put their kids first.
Photos: Special thanks to David Librizzi, Jack, Isaac, and Davy.