A Fatherhood Lesson from Sam and Frodo

What can a Hobbit teach us about fatherhood? Here’s a quick lesson from my son’s favorite movie- The Lord of the Rings.

“I can’t carry it for you, Mr. Frodo. But I can carry you”

The past two years in the Behson household have been dominated by Nick’s obsession with all things Star Wars- Legos, light-sabers, Darth Vader costumes, the Wii game, posters, art projects, you name it.

A few months ago, however, this all changed. I shared the Lord of the Rings movies with Nick, and now his obsession is all things Middle Earth. It’s a good thing I love these movies, as Nick has them on heavy rotation.

(For those who haven’t seen the movies or read the books, all you need to know for this story is that Frodo has been entrusted with the burden of carrying and destroying a magical ring- but whoever holds the ring is driven mad and deteriorates quickly. His friend, Sam, accompanies Frodo on this mission, protecting and helping him along- but only Frodo can carry the ring.)

My favorite scene comes near the end of “Return of the King.” Sam and Frodo are near the end of their arduous journey to Mt. Doom to destroy the One Ring, when Frodo collapses in exhaustion and despair. Sam first tries to keep up Frodo’s spirit by asking him to remember the good things in life. sadly, Frodo can no longer remember anything good; the burden of the Ring has taken too large a toll on him. Frodo says he can’t take another step, even though they are so close to their goal.

Sam then scoops Frodo up over his shoulder and tells him, “I can’t carry it [the Ring] for you, Mr. Frodo. But I can carry you.” He then carries Frodo most of the rest of the way. A few scenes later, the Ring is destroyed- Mission Accomplished.

“I can’t carry it for you, Mr. Frodo. But I can carry you.”

This quote also sounds like great advice for fathers. As our kids grow up, they will be confronted by life’s challenges and will begin to carry their own burdens. Carrying our kids’ burdens for them is not our job. Rather, our role is supporting and guiding them as they deal with their burdens themselves.

Sam doesn’t carry the Ring for Frodo. Likewise, sometimes we need to step back and let our kids struggle, fail and learn on their own how to succeed.

But Sam tries to raise Frodo’s morale by providing comfort and encouragement. We can do the same for our kids.

Sam then provides actual help- carrying Frodo on his back during his time of exhaustion and despair. We can metaphorically do the same for our kids.

We can’t carry our kids’ burdens for them, but we can carry them.

What do you think about our role in helping our children with their struggles? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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