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I have seem plenty of questions and posts about how could Superman (with all his powers) deal with XYZ, more or less having his Superpowers in the way of everyday routine for a normal human.

Probably one of the most famous would be "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" which explains the problems Superman, due to his biology and superpowers, would face in a situation where one (mostly) loses control of processes that are not completely controllable take place. If I recall correctly, this is even explicitly mentioned in Superman Earth One.

Anyone in care of a baby or toddler knows that at times babies or toddlers can be quite physical. At least, they are very physically demanding for parents! They are not yet able to communicate effectively, and thus their frustration may manifest not only by screaming, but by more physical behavior when they are upset (which can be quite often, even if it is for short periods of time). They might mistreat their toys, throw stuff away, resist to be hold, bathed, fed, changed, put to bed, etc.

We have several alternate Supermen (Movies or cartoons, different lines of comics, etc.) but what seems to be "canon" is that Superman is rescued as a baby by the Kent and even at that sort age he is exhibiting some of his superhuman abilities. Depending on the storyline these abilities might show or increase over time, but other seem to be there from the very moment he is exposed to the yellow sun.

Donner's baby Superman "He’s not from around here, Martha." Richard Donner's Superman, 1978.

Comics, by nature, expect some degree of suspension of disbelief. Nevertheless, Superman's strength seems to be there when he is a baby, and I can't imagine the Kents having to deal with a baby who is much stronger than any adult, presumably much faster (if he wants to escape a diaper change or bath time) and who knows what else.

Is it ever addressed, in any canon, how Jonathan and Martha Kent deal with a super-baby?

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  • 1
    Imagine trying to convince the school board that he's up to date on his shots Dec 4 '15 at 18:30
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    Superbaby appeared in literally dozens of comics and even had his own serials. Too many mentions to sensibly reference.
    – Valorum
    Dec 4 '15 at 18:36
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    @Richard, and it is possible to know how do they address this problem in any of them? Thanks.
    – Kreann
    Dec 7 '15 at 14:23
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    Very carefully.
    – Wad Cheber
    Feb 27 '16 at 15:53
  • 2
    Screw that, even bigger is asking how the hell the Danvers raised Supergirl. I mean, super female teenager hormones? Holy crap.
    – Oak
    Feb 27 '16 at 16:05
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The short answer seems to be "very carefully".

In the oldest serials, Clark's naughtiness seems to be limited to lifting and moving objects as well as using his super-speed. While this certainly presents a challenge for his parents, his good nature and age (he's usually depicted as being at least 1 year old) take the edge off the more obvious difficulties a parent might face

Action Comics #1 enter image description here

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #3
enter image description here

In more recent serials, more thought seems to have been given to the difficulties a human might have in raising an alien.

Secret Origin #1
enter image description here enter image description here

6

This isn't much, but it is a reference.

Here's a scene from Smallville Season 1, episode Leech.

Jonathan: I stopped by to see Eric's parents this morning.
Clark: How are they?
Jonathan: They're scared, Clark.
Clark: Were you ever scared of me?
Jonathan: Well, you threw a few temper tantrums when you were little. We had some holes in the walls, but... nah. You were a good kid, Clark.

So, temper tantrums weren't too big of a deal, to them, because Clark was "good".

I've thought about it, and Clark has advanced intelligence. Even at his young age, I'm sure he was more advanced than normal human children. I believe this could have aided them in managing the child. Normally, you can't effectively reason with young children, even though it seems they can understand. However, there are methods of handling the troublesome issues of young children. As they grow older, reasoning with them does help, and they begin to understand their actions can have an effect on others. I'm guessing Clark reached this age a little earlier than my own children.

While there were at least 78 appearances of Superbaby, primarily in Action Comics, Superboy, and other early titles, they don't seem to really address issues with raising the baby. Some of these appearances were actually when adult Superman was transformed into a baby. It's hard to draw any good information from them.

There may be other off-hand mentions of raising Clark, in comics of television, but I'm guessing there as hard to find as the quote from Smallville above. It was pure chance I happened to remember that line (and honestly, no others) from Smallville. We're really only left with our suppositions, based on what we know of child-rearing, the Kents' personalities, and Clark's disposition.

4

The Kents were extraordinary parents, mature, kind, and live in a remote rural area. They are used to deal with large animals (cows and horses) that are stronger than humans, and have survived, so, it is not hard to believe that they have techniques to cope with a very strong baby.

Besides, in most canon comics about the infance of Superman, he only uses his powers on stress life or death situations, not for the common farm work. Being "good" by nature and nurture, baby Superman have to be a very easy and well behaved kid. In the picture you illustrate your question yo can see he is a 4 or 5 years old kid, not a baby, and Kents are discovering his strenght. Probably he was a very normal baby until then, and then mature enough to control his character to not harm anybody.

1
  • He was no older than 2 and a half in that scene. Lex himself stated it took about 2 years for him to reach earth from Krypton.
    – Russhiro
    Dec 16 '20 at 0:25
1

Finally came back to this answer after a while. I found the story I was looking for:

In the short pre-Crisis tale Martha's Story , by Samuel Hawkins, a dying Martha Kent is recalling various aspects of raising baby Clark. Several instances are referenced where his inhuman powers were showcased as him being a "handful", mostly due to his young age and resulting lack of control. The full short story can be read here: http://superman.nu/superboy-lives/martha.php

Excerpts from it give detail....

"It would be nice to think that once we snatched Clark up out of that rocket, that everything was okay for him. But it wasn’t. Those first few months were rough. Being under our sun was quickly developing his powers, and adjusting to them was harder than you’d think. Suddenly, everything about him worked so much better that it was all happening too fast for him. We had to work very hard with him to slow him down. To teach him how to live at a human pace....

It continues [emphasis mine]...

"To say that Clark was a handful when he was a toddler would be an understatement. Most kids are, after all, but a child who hardly ever gets tired is something else all together. No naps for that boy. He was always on the go, hanging off the ceiling, or running around so fast that the wind he kicked up would pull things off the walls. Why, I didn’t think I would ever teach him to not use his super-speed in the house .....

I'm highlighting the next part to show how even from an early age, Clark's mental control was implied.

Of course, we would be kidding ourselves to believe that we could have ever made Clark do anything he didn’t want to do. No, him obeying us, allowing us to discipline him and parent him, always required his cooperation. He figured out that little fact pretty quickly, but he never took advantage of it. I guess his consent, unspoken though it was, was due to the good parenting Lara and Jor-El did in the time that they had him, and the fact that he was so smart, he somehow understood that he needed parents to teach him how to behave.

Of specific interest here is this part:

...He shot out of my lap and ran outside, and the next thing I knew, he had punched a hole in the little concrete pump house we used to have out back. Then he punched it again, and I could see that the whole thing was about to tumble down. I imagine it wasn’t the brightest thing I’ve ever done, but I ran up behind him, forgetting what someone as strong as him could do to me...I grabbed his arm before he could swing again, and he jerked it away from me so fast that I went down onto the ground. He didn’t mean to do it, but he flung me down like I was a rag doll.

I looked up, and he was just standing there, this terribly angry look on his face, looking for all the world like he wanted to keep on hitting something. And with me being the closest thing at the time, I wasn’t all together sure that something wouldn’t be me....But then he saw me lying there, and saw what he had done. I’m pretty sure that was the first time he realized just what he could do to other people. And he just melted. He fell down on the ground beside me and sobbed and sobbed. "Not hurt Mommy," he kept saying. "Not hurt Mommy."

The moment before, I’ll admit, I’d been afraid of him. After that, I never was again. He knew what he could do, but he was smart enough, and good enough, to never do it."

So it seems that, from Martha Kent's own words, the Kents basically had Clark's respectful and obedient "cooperation" in raising him. Being that he was so much stronger and basically unstoppable, they couldn't "force him" to behave like regular parents. So it would appear they more "lead by example" and appealed to his unusually high intellect and "better nature" of him basically being a good kid.

This kind of falls in line with the 2000s Smallville interpretation of Clark as a teenager, as well; although that version had plentiful amounts of "meteor rocks" they could use to make Clark sick and weak, if need be, the Jonathan and Martha Kent of that universe were noble, hard working, stubborn "salt of the earth" people who were often kinda strict, rule-focused and over protective of their son. Still, even with those strong mid-western values, that show in particular showed them to be a core aspect of Clark's foundational character, based on their closeness to him and the values they taught:

so it would seem, regardless of the version, Clark was raised with a combination of careful structure and TLC by the Kents, with a lot of compassion which helped shaped how he saw the world. as such, there was little need for them to "discipline" him like other, normal children.

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    I hate to be pooper of parties, but that Samuel Hawkins isn't really canon, as well-crafted as it might be. It was written in 2000, so it's hardly genuine Pre-Crisis work. At the end of the piece, there is the legalese: "This story is neither authorized nor endorsed by DC Comics. "
    – Blaze
    Jul 19 '21 at 4:01
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    @Blaze Fair enough. I meant that the story was set in Pre-Crisis, though. But you are right in so much as that there's no "official" comic adaptation there of. I still believe it offered a fair example, and the supplemental data based on Smallville still applies. Good opn you to point it out though, my dude; thanks for that.
    – Russhiro
    Jul 19 '21 at 14:11
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Depends rather on which continuity/publishing period of Superman you're referring to. The Post-Crisis (1986) Superman reimagined by John Byrne generally has baby Clark Kent slowly growing into his power as he aged. As a tot, he was...robust, but still within human parameters.

Pre-Crisis, it was all...hijinks and comedy relief. Clark "Superbaby" Kent was a generally well-meaning and good-hearted tyke, which prevailed in the end. But his adventures did indeed start because he would be fascinated by a butterfly and find himself three states away from home. Or, he would have a baby tantrum and fly off, have an adventure filled with luck, and then somehow find his way back to his home. Sometimes John and Martha were aware he'd been missing and other times thought he'd been down for a nap the whole time.

Two Pre-Crisis samples to show that Superbaby got a fair share of ink back in the grand old days. Of particular note is the caption box on the opening page of the boxing story: "Few parents have ever encountered troubles like Mom and Dad Kent had while raising Superbaby..." But, as I say, it was all whacky fun. By the time comic book writing decided to be "serious and high-toned", it was the Post-Crisis era and the problem of a super-powered baby had been mostly neutered.

enter image description here

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I Was going to edit this into my previous answer, but there are three reasons as to why I think it should stand alone:

  1. The indirect nature of the evidence
  2. Canonicity
  3. Length of post

The first examples used here are taken from the 1988 Superman CBS cartoon series (one of the BEST examples of the hero in animated form, in my opinion.) The last 5 minutes of each episode would be dedicated to a segment called Superman's Family Album, in which the show would present stories of Clark/Superman growing up at different ages and going through different childhood milestones in Smallville with his parents, the Kents.

Though this cartoon was made after the Jon Byrne 1986 reboot of the character.... where Clark is basically a "slightly enhanced human" until he absorbs yellow sun radiation and "grows into his full powers" in adulthood.... this version of the story balances both the Post and Pre-crisis versions of the character, combining aspects of each and simplifying them.

Post Crisis Aspects: The (then) modern-day aspects drawn from Byrne's version include:

  • Clark doesn't become a hero until he is a fully grown adult in Metropolis

  • Superman is more a "public face", but it's the "same guy" (Clark Kent) doing what he feels is right

  • While godly powerful, he's not infallible, or invincible, even against some human tech.

  • Little is known or made of his life on Krypton before coming to earth, and by all accounts, he is the "sole surviving member" of the planet (no Kara or Superdog seen.)

  • Both of his parents are alive in his adult years, and act as a humanizing/balancing influence, as well as his secret keepers and occasional helpers.

  • His main foe Lex Luthor is more "stylish 80s corrupt brilliant publicly respected Business man" than "maniacal super genius mad scientist and world renowned villain."

Pre-Crisis Aspects: The more throwback or classical elements that were kept in this superman were:

  • He's TRULY Super, able to move landmasses, moons, if not whole planets, with ease, shrug off lightning bolts, survive in space unaided, move at light speeds, and even has a form of tactile telekinesis (in the Cybron episode he managed to keep himself, Lois Lane, a table and 2 chairs afloat in the sky without "flying" for her birthday.)

  • He knows a lot about Krypton's history, and even this version of Zod seems based around the classic 1950s design.

  • He is NOWHERE as "conflicted" in himself as Byrne's version, having the whole "Big Blue Boy Scout" and pleasant demeanor of the Christopher Reeve version.

  • His exaggerations of Clark Kent as being somewhat nerdy, awkward and "mild mannered" are used to distinguish him from Superman, with even their voices being portrayed differently by the same actor.

  • While not as wild as the Superboy/Superbaby stories of the 1950s and 60s, Clark's parents do have challenges protecting his secret as a kid, and influencing his decision to be a hero in the future. The last episode even shows it was his mother who made his suit "out of the baby blankets he came from Krypton in," making the suit itself as invulnerable as he is and bypassing the "bio-electric aura" excuse for his indestructibility.

  • Most notably for this post, while he never had a career as Superboy, let alone a "super baby," Clark did have FULL KNOWLEDGE of, Control over, and USE of ALL his powers, even as a child. This included everything from invulnerability and flight to seemingly super intelligence... or at least better understanding than any other child that age.

This last point becomes important, because it implies, as the previous answer did, that Clark knew full well from babyhood that his parents couldn't "force him" to do anything he didn't want to. Despite this knowledge, he willingly not only followed their orders, but chose to do so.

As the question basically asked how the Kents "raised a super baby," we have no example of direct means (like physical control, mental manipulation, bribery, etc) used outside of Martha Kent's stern voice and balanced caring, responsible, reasonable concerns. There was no "special method" per say; she set rules, and he followed them, exampled in the video by her teaching little Clark to be careful about his powers as "our little secret."

However, both of the clips provided show that, even though (like any young child) Clark could be willful, emotional and prone to occasional mischief, he was smart enough (and instinctually respectful enough of their parental authority) to never break the rules too heavily. This implies that he basically "allowed them" to teach him right from wrong by purposefully following the examples his human parents set. This seemed to be the case, even as a child presumably under a year old.

This first video, "the Adoption," shows Clark, as an infant, essentially choosing the Kents specifically to be his parents.

Not only did Clark actively scare off the other people that came to consider him for adoption, but the kid..... who is not even old enough to coherently talk at this point.... flew directly to the Kents' farm and settled in with them. And you see that look he gave at 1:17 when the first couple came by? That boy hadn't been on earth more than a few days, yet realized exactly what he was doing! Even the director of the Orphanage himself said it in the episode:

I tell you, Conroy, it's as if the boy was TRYING to run those people off! Maybe he wants someone else to be his parents; I don't know...

This implies Clark had (1) the above average/ super human intellect to discern the problem he was in, as well as (2) the intention to be SPECIFICALLY with the Kents right off.

Whether Clark had just "imprinted" upon Martha and Jonathan as the first humans he saw when he arrived here, or there was some "destined" element or psychic link, is unknown. Either way, Clark made a decision to be part of that family, and in the ensuing years, despite being faaaaar more powerful than they were, he obviously also made the continuous choice to abide by their rules.

The second video, "The Supermarket", shows this willing obedience more clearly.

Here, Clark is a toddler of about 2 or 3 years old, and like most kids that age, he's impulsive and a bit precocious. Being so young, he doesn't quite grasp the whole "don't use your powers in public as it is not normal and will draw attention to us" thing yet... but he did promise not to cause his human mom any trouble. Aside from following a few kiddy impulses regarding food, he did obey her instructions without much contradiction. Beyond that, like most kids of that age doing something new, he was excited and sought to be helpful to her where he could. This again goes back to a combination of his intelligence, his basic good nature, and his willingness to do everything the Kents taught him to do... even if they couldn't effectively "punish him" as most parents could with other children.

Jonathan and Martha Kent having a pre-existing "connection" to Clark, or being deemed worthy to be his parents has been touched upon in other forms, as well; as User 31178 pointed out, in the Smallville continuity----- one which, oddly enough, has arguably the most interaction of Clark with his human parents in showing how they raised him ----- it was stated outright in a season 1 episode where they weren't scared of him, and they rarely had any problems out of him as a child.

A season 3 episode touches on this further; it shows Clark's biological father, Jor El, came to earth several decades previously, as a sort of right of passage, and actually met up with and befriended Jonathan Kent's father, Hiram. Hiram told Joe (Jor El) who had been falsely accused of a murder that, "if you ever need anything, you know where to find me." Clark literally "sees" all of this via a type of telepathic journal amulet his father Jor El left behind in the Kowachee caves. At the end of the scene, Clark himself tells his human father, Jonathan, that "I don't think I came to you by accident. I think you were chosen."

If this is the case...that the Kents were purposefully chosen to raise Clark as they were deemed capable of giving him the foundation of character he needed.... then that reasoning may apply only to the Smallville universe specifically. However, as most versions of the hero has him being raised by the Kents, the canonicity of this theory could be somewhat speculative.

There was a book several years ago (firmly set in Pre-crisis continuity) that had Albert Einstein be contacted by a telepathic scouting device from Jor El prior to Krypton's destruction. As it recognized Albert as having the "greatest mind on the planet", the scouting device tasked the scientist with "choosing the best possible candidates" for the responsibility of raising a child who could change the world. Through and the scientist then sought out the Kents.

This was done from the 1981 Elliot S. Maggin book Superman: Last Son of Krypton. Excerpts can be read here

"My name is Jor-El and I am speaking to you through the use of a device which relays spoken information directly into the mind of the individual it contacts. My recording is incorporated into a navigational device whose purpose is to lead my son Kal-El to a planet by intelligent creatures whose thought patterns roughly correspond with those of the humanoids of my planet, Krypton. By the time you receive message my world will have been long destroyed by natural forces. Since the cataclysm, my infant son has been traveling through space at a speed close to that of light, and the time has passed for him slowly enough so that he is just beginning to feel the effects of a day without food. At moment he is slowing down in preparation for entering your field of atmosphere.

...

"Just as the navigational device was drawn to a world of intelligent beings, it was drawn to you, the most highly developed intellect on your world. The purpose for is to implore you to take in my son Kal-El as your own and see that he is raised to proper manhood. "

The point still stands, though: The Kents managed to raise the alien child either because Clark himself "went along" with it, or because some other Kryptonian influence reasoned that their characters were strong enough that Clark would willingly obey them, even with the advantages he had over them.

Now again, these are TV shows I'm referencing, so their canonicity could be subject to question, but at the very least in their respective Superman universes, it's shown, if not at least implied, that there was some conscious decision making involved in how they managed to raise Clark, either by the child himself, or by some other , more knowledgeable force, and that this was due to them being the kind of good people that Clark could be naturally influenced by.

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