If Benjamin Sisko is the prophet of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then Odo is its saint. As the head of security for the station, he spends most of his waking hours watching, studying, and guarding. He is iconic in his stance high above the Promenade, waiting to spring into action, the ultimate helicopter caretaker for every inhabitant.
Odo, like most Star Trek characters, is not a full-time parent. However, he is a member of what I think of as the ‘Star Trek Parent for a Week Club’ – those characters who become parents for a single episode – and one of the few that did it twice. In two episodes, he is given charge of a youth and urged to raise it. In the first, the youth is a rapidly growing warrior species, and Odo is the only crew
member who can control it. In the second, it is an infant changeling, and Odo is delighted to be able to treat it with the kindness he wished to have experienced. Neither story has a ‘happy ending’, with the warrior being sent to live with his bio-kin, and the infant changeling dying in Odo’s hands. Yet in each instance, Odo is circumspect and grateful for the growth the experience provided.
And I get why people might not think of Odo as a caretaker. He doesn’t have the qualities that we tend to associate with successful parents – he is gruff and doesn’t like to sugar coat his information. He revels in his associations with both sides of the law, and enjoys the physical challenge of street fighting with toughs.
But he’s also the guy Sisko trusts to raise all these space orphans who find their way to the station. No one questions that those in Odo’s care will improve under his thoughtful and empathetic gaze. Odo is a trauma survivor, and his calm demeanor belies a deep promise – a promise to not let the things that happened to him happen to anyone else.
The Takeaway: If you’re the sort of parent who invests in the minutiae of caregiving, and you’re feeling the stress therein, consider Odo on the Promenade. He doesn’t stress, he doesn’t micromanage, and yet he is one of the most caring caregivers in all of Star Trek. Unlike Data, Odo cannot read every book on parenting ever written, so he keeps a cool head, listens carefully, and uses his empathy to guide him. And I think that’s amazing.