Parenting lessons a nerd mom learned from Harry Potter

by Megan Mangiaracino

Redefining Self Care

Nerd Alert! I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. (Like own a wand and used to dress up for every movie and book premiere level of nerd.) And in honor of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s birthday today – July 31st – we’re reviewing some of the best parenting lessons learned from the series, according to me and my HP-lovin’ mom friends.

My son’s newborn photo shoot in 2017. I couldn’t help myself. (Photo cred: the magical Michelle Arnold )

It’s not much, but it’s home.

When Harry first arrives to and looks around The Burrow (the Weasley home), Ron apologizes for the house, “it’s not much, but it’s home.” Harry, with stars in his eyes, replies “it’s brilliant.” (I mean, hello, the dishes washed themselves!) More than fame, money, admiration, or anything else, Harry always just wanted a family and a home. He didn’t care if it was big, expensive or tidy. So when you’re wondering if you’re not providing every possible advantage to your child, remember that having a loving home – your home – is what your little one craves more than anything else.

“Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” -Hermione

Ah, Hermione. Arguably the bravest of the three (who run the world? Hermione.), she said this to Lucius Malfoy in protest to the You-Know-Who holdouts. I think this applies to so much of parenting, perhaps more profoundly in later years. I try to lead with honesty when I parent. This can be as simple as naming body parts by their {actual} name, or speaking openly to your newborn about your thoughts and feelings. Now, I’m not going to crush dreams or stifle imagination, but I do think it’s important to talk about the hard, scary or dark topics openly with children…as long as it’s packaged age-appropriately, of course. Kids understand and can handle more than we might think. The next time you get asked a question by your kid that produces some grownup fear/anxiety as to how you should answer, remember these wise words from our favorite heroine.

“If you step another toe out of line, we’ll bring you STRAIGHT. HOME.” -Molly Weasley

That scene where Hermione performs “Obliviate” on her parents – effectively erasing her from their memories in order to protect them – is heartbreaking. An extreme example, yes, but the underlying truth is that children take care of their parents, too. Later in life they become the caretakers of their elderly parents and that inevitable role-reversal is moving and gut-wrenching. But I’d also argue that many feel a sense of responsibility for their parents much earlier in life. They might worry about us. They might try to hide something hurtful from us. They might erase our memories for Pete’s sake! Just kidding (I hope). It’s something to remember, and as parents to be aware of opportunities to allow them to help us.

Friends don’t let friends carry horcruxes alone.

Perhaps the most consistent theme throughout all the books and films is friendship. {Spoiler alert} Harry, Ron and Hermione defeat Lord Voldemort and effectively save the Wizarding World. It took the three of them. When it comes to parenthood, especially pregnancy and newborn stages, having friends by your side can be a sanity-saver. Becoming a parent can sometimes be very lonely and isolating. And when you’re not sleeping, it can feel like you’re wearing a horcrux around your neck. So, pass it off. Ask for help. They don’t have to be parents, but true friends will help (or just listen) when asked. And if you don’t have any yet, it helps to find some parent friends to commiserate with. Because sometimes children can be like dementors and suck the life out of you. Love them! But it is true. Need tips on expanding your tribe? Read this.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” -Dumbledore

Perhaps one of the best quotes from one of the wisest characters ever written. As parents, we will have challenges ahead of us forever. So will our children. We have this amazing opportunity in small and big moments throughout their childhood to help develop their resiliency and optimism. We also have an opportunity to learn from their unabashed joy. Children really can find happiness in the simplest pleasures and in ways that can sometimes feel foreign to busy adults. May we help our children find the light in dark times, and may we allow them to remind us how to turn it on.

Still holding out for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts.

We have more than two parents.

At first glance, Harry Potter and parenting lessons doesn’t seem like an obvious correlation, since HP is obviously an orphan. However, his mother and father-less tale highlights something that is true for all of us: we have more than two parents (figuratively, obviously). We all have had impactful relationships with aunts/uncles, grandparents, parent friends, teachers, coaches, etc. Our children will learn and be guided by other adults, in addition to us. Isn’t that a little relieving to think about? They might not all have the wisdom-status of Dumbledore, but if you surround yourself and your family with good people, the impact is lasting.

A mother’s love is Always.

The most powerful relationship in the entire series is that of Harry and his mother, Lily. Although she was only physically with her son for a short time, her love ran through this veins (literally). He carried a part of her (mostly unknowingly) and her unconditional love saved his life, again and again. Sometimes I think about what would happen to my B if something were to happen to me. Would he know how deeply and unconditionally I love him? Would my love somehow protect him in life like Lily’s could? Becoming a mom is like magic…a force you can’t see bubbles up from inside and propels you to do, say, think and feel what used to be unimaginable. It transcends this world. It is powerful. It is mysterious. It is Always.

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Megan is co-founder of Baby Boldly and a full-time nonprofit fundraiser in Florida. She has been married to Mike for 3 years and (if you don’t count her furbaby, Max) she became a mom to Bennett in 2017. Megan believes strongly in supporting women (especially working mothers), the power of optimism and generosity, and the sacred tradition of Showtunes Friday in her car.

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