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What Tyrion Lannister can teach you about raising your child

By Marty Callahan

“Don’t fight for your king, don’t fight for his kingdoms, don’t fight for honor, don’t fight for glory, and don’t fight for riches because you won’t get any. This is your city Stannis means to sack, your gate he’s ramming. If he gets in, it will be your houses he burns, your gold he steals, and your women he will rape. Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them!”

-Tyrion Lannister, Battle of Blackwater Bay, Game of Thrones

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, like I am, then you know this scene. Stannis and his army are ramming the castle gates; King Jovery has just fled into the safety of the castle; his soldiers are demoralized when they see their king flee; and Tyrion Lannister, Hand of the King, is left with the job of defending the castle. What do you say to rally the troops to fight on? There is something remarkably similar with what Tyrion was facing, and with what you’re facing as a parent who is raising a child. Let’s look more closely at what Tyrion said.

The soldiers know that their job is to defend the castle but they have just seen their king flee the scene. So, Tyrion can’t inspire them to fight for their king. What he does is to remind them that their homes will be destroyed, their wealth will be stolen, and their families will be violated if the enemy gets in. He motivates them with an image of what they will lose and then he tells them what they must do to prevent this disaster… go kill them. And, he speaks respectfully of the enemy. He tells his soldiers that the enemy is brave. This is a way of telling his soldiers that this battle is a matter of principle. The principle being that we don’t stand by and let bad things happen to good people if we can help it. We go all the way and make the ultimate sacrifice if that’s necessary.

Isn’t this the kind of person you want your child to be, someone, who will stand on principle and make the right choice, regardless of personal cost? But as a parent how do you do this? The answer is to do what Tyrion did, plant an image in your child’s mind of what he will lose that is terrible enough to spur him into action, and then you tell him what he needs to do to prevent that from happening.

We’re happy to help should you have any questions.


Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.