I have looked to my fandoms for positive role models at many stages in my life. So, of course, when my son was born, I also looked to them for examples of strong mothers. Unfortunately, strong mother role models are conspicuously absent from most fandoms. Fandom mothers generally abandon their children (Rey‘s parents) or die (Padmé Amidala) before the story even begins. Particularly unlucky protagonists get evil stepmothers who exemplify everything a parent should NOT do (Snow White). A notable exception to this rule is Molly Weasley from Harry Potter. Mrs. Weasley is a magical mom (literally!) who can teach all of us some valuable lessons about parenting. Here are five lessons I’ve learned from my favorite fandom mom:
Create Holiday Traditions
Holidays are an excellent opportunity to make special memories with kids. Molly Weasley’s (in)famous Christmas jumpers are a perfect example of a holiday tradition that kids will remember their whole lives. Sure, the jumpers are a little ugly and embarrassing, but that’s also part of their charm. Receiving a homespun Christmas jumper is as much a sign of Weasley clan membership as having fiery red hair. This is part of what makes Percy’s rejection of his jumper so heartbreaking in Order of the Phoenix.
My little guy turned one just before the holidays this year, and we shared a number of traditions with him. Luckily for my son, none of them involved me knitting him ugly sweaters. However, we did get to see some beautiful lights displays as a family, and he loved the latkes and applesauce.
Welcome Your Kids’ Friends Into Your Home
Molly serves as a mother figure to her son’s friend, Harry Potter, throughout the series. This is important on so many levels. First, Molly’s generosity of spirit is exactly the kind of thing I want to model for my own son. Second, as kids get older, their friends become increasingly important to them. Welcoming and caring about those friends means that your own kids will feel more comfortable with and understood by you.
My son is currently at a very different stage of development than Ron in the Harry Potter novels. (Ron did not try to make friends by drooling on toys and then sharing them with a smile!) However, I try to give my little boy a variety of social experiences and make our home a welcoming place.
Allow Your Kids to Be Themselves
In the Weasley family, love and rambunctiousness coexist with real conflicts. Fred and George Weasley present a parenting challenge, and they get many well-deserved Howlers from Molly Weasley throughout the series. However, Molly Weasley sets limits for her children while also allowing them to be themselves. Despite her concerns about the twins dropping out of Hogwarts, Molly doesn’t stop them from doing so. Fred and George not only go on to become successful businessmen but are also heroes during the Second Wizarding War.
As I mentioned before, our family is still a long way away from navigating the minefield of adolescent identity development. However, even now, I try to respect my son’s budding individuality. My little buddy is probably one of the most physically active children I know. He was running, tumbling, and climbing before many children his age learned to walk. So, much as I would occasionally like a quiet afternoon, we give him as much active time as possible.
It’s difficult to imagine Mrs. Weasley’s heartache when Percy rejects his family. When Percy refuses to visit his father when he is grievously injured and misses his brother’s wedding, Molly continues to demonstrate unconditional love for her son. She is the only one excited to see Percy when he returns home with Rufus Scrimgeour during Christmas. Molly even continues to send Percy Christmas jumpers even though she knows he doesn’t open them. Mrs. Weasley’s faith in and love for her son helps him to ultimately reconcile with his family.
I have a blissful few years before I need to worry about teenage rebelliousness. However, this is a good lesson to remember when I’m changing dirty diapers at 3 a.m.
Your Love for Your Kids IS Magic
Women often get the message that we have to choose between being amazing mothers or being amazing in other domains. Mrs. Weasley shows that this a false dichotomy, and that motherhood can actually push women to be their best selves. The line, “Not my daughter, you b***h!” is one of the most iconic in the entire Harry Potter series. Molly Weasley uses the love for her children to take down Voldemort’s most loyal lieutenant. She proves that a mother’s love can literally help save the world.
This has been Molly Weasley’s most powerful lesson for me. As a working mom, there are days when I miss my son terribly. There are also plenty of times when sleep deprivation makes my work day seem interminable. At the same time, knowing my paycheck is feeding my baby has made me a more committed and ambitious employee. I have increased my community involvement because I want to improve the world I’m leaving for my boy. It’s true that juggling so many identities and commitments can be exhausting. It’s also true that having multiple roles enriches me as a person and a mother. As my son gets older, I hope he is as proud of me as the Weasleys must be of Molly.
Stories are incredible teaching tools that help guide us through major life transitions. J.K. Rowling knows a thing or two about parenting in difficult circumstances. I am so grateful her experiences informed a story that will guide my parenting journey for years to come.