Last Christmas, my boys and I were in the World Trade Christmas Bazaar and we chanced upon a booth selling shirts with designs from the Houses of Harry Potter fame (Slyhtherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor). Aside from these, there were also tees with unfamiliar insignias. My shopping-averse son, however, quickly grabbed a dark shirt which had an eye and the word “ERUDITE” on it. Apparently, he knew the inspiration of the apparel. Then he pointed to a shirt that read “DAUNTLESS “ . “Mom, look! My sister definitely belongs to that faction,” he said with a grin.
Fast forward to today. We have just seen the movie “DIVERGENT”. I haven’t read the book so I’m not sure if the screen adaptation did justice to the actual novel of Veronica Roth . I just know that the movie has much to teach to parents and children both.
Imagine a world where your teenage children are allowed to choose a different family. Imagine the horror when they actually do. Imagine a world where all people are classified into factions according their dominant characteristic : ERUDITE (intellectuals, people who know “everything”) , CANDOR (the just ones who will do the right thing and will say everything that comes to their minds, “no filters”), AMITY (happy workers), ABNEGATION (The “stiffs”, kind and helpful, vegetarians, rejects vanity) and the DAUNTLESS (fearless,brave soldiers, protectors of the system).
When the lead character TRIS leaves her ABNEGATION family for the DAUNTLESS faction, she is at once faced with the consequences of her decision. She has to jump onto a train and out of it AND THEN she has to jump again from the top of a building through a hole with jutting steel —without knowing if there’s anything below to break her fall. She trains rigorously and literally fights for a place in the group. There is no going back to her old family. She must belong or be factionless. But the truth is , she doesn’t belong anywhere. Early testing showed that she is a DIVERGENT—a person with qualities of other factions. Individuals like her are considered dangerous to the system.
TRIS must hide her true self to belong in a group she had previously thought would be accepting of her. She learns to fight, to trust and be betrayed, and to love. In the end, she finds the courage and the strength to overcome (some of) the odds. She ultimately rejects the idea of “faction before blood.”
WHY THE BQP RECOMMENDS THIS
All parents want to raise “good kids.” For some, having good kids mean raising smart children. Undeniably, intelligent children bring a badge of honor to the family and are already seen as being successful in the future. For other parents, academic achievements are secondary to values formation while for some, sports is the priority.
I started out as a “tiger mom” and drilled my then only child M to get perfect scores in his tests. At 4, he could memorize lines as easily as he could figure out 100 piece puzzles. As a first time Mom, I felt the urge to equip my child with everything he needs to be successful. As M grew, he would sometimes get into trouble in school because he freely spoke his mind and questioned his teachers. He had (has ) a hard time fitting into the category of a “model” student. If he was in the movie, he would definitely be an ERUDITE but with CANDOR characteristics too. In short, just like the main character , M is a DIVERGENT.
Now, that I have a decade’s worth of parenting knowledge under my belt, I don’t want to undermine my effort in molding an intellectual child. M has already set a standard for himself and that is good. I do find myself with a different goal and that is ensuring that my child is HAPPY and FREE to be his true self.
The movie mirrored my fear about raising my kids. How well do I really know my children (this applies to M, for now)? If they had a choice, will they leave us (their parents) without looking back? My husband and I have big dreams for the children but this early we know that THEY have to be the ones to choose their own paths. Rebellion is the fruit of unhappiness. I know this because I was a rebel many, many moons ago.
Childhood is a fleeting phase and there’s no do-over in parenting. This is why I consciously create and collect wonderful experiences for the family. I truly believe that children shouldn’t be forced to conform to the dictates of their school, the society or their parents. They should be allowed to be DIFFERENT and should be CELEBRATED for having the spirit to be so. This world needs more outstanding children who are fearless and passionate. With an ERUDITE husband by my side, this ERUDITE/CANDOR/DAUNTLESS Mom prays to raise good, happy and successful DIVERGENTS.