Role Models

18 Feb

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This past Sunday night, you could almost hear a collective ‘NO!’ from the world when Rihanna was shown at the Grammy Awards smiling and snuggling up next to Chris Brown, her ex-boyfriend who beat her black and blue in 2009. I can’t say I was surprised myself after seeing Rihanna on the Oprah show this past August when she called Brown ‘the love of my life’. I figured this was her opening the door and soon we would see them together.

I started thinking about celebrities as role models back when the Tiger Woods scandal blew up.  The fact that Tiger was the youngest man (at the age of 21) and the first African-American to win the U.S. Masters is incredible. It’s a shame that when many think about him the first golf club that comes to mind is the one his then wife was swinging at him when she discovered one of his many mistresses.

Take away Lance Armstrong’s Tour De France titles (and they did), his Livestrong Foundation still raised MILLIONS of dollars for cancer research. Undoubtedly, what he did was crappy. He apparently called those who were telling the truth about his steroid use liars, but is he absolutely EVIL? Some would actually say yes.

We all want Rihanna to make better choices and be a hero, BUT, here’s the thing, she’s a beautiful young woman who can sing (sort of) and that’s it. Why do we think she should be imparted some special magic wisdom and strength that so many other people do not have as far as getting out of and staying out of an abusive relationship simply because she is a celebrity? I think it’s a shame that she is not able to see Brown for seemingly what he is, a smug douchebag, but she is not my child or my friend, and here’s the thing, even if she WAS, she’s an adult and will make her own decisions. She certainly must hear what is being said and she chooses to ignore it. Same with Lance and Tiger. I wish they would have done things differently but I also wish Jon Hamm would shoot an entire season of Mad Men totally nude but It doesn’t matter what I wish.

I think children will always look up to celebrities. I think it is inevitable. Basketball player Charles Barkley has said “I don’t believe professional athletes should be role models. I believe parents should be role models.” That is indeed a lovely sentiment but unless you raise your children in a box with no outside influences, they more than likely will idolize someone besides their parents and that someone will probably be a celebrity. In this age of technology where kids can keep up with their favorite celebrities via Facebook and Instagram they can get more of a peek than ever into their fabulous lives, and they do look fabulous.They never see celebrities doing the day to day stuff that they see their parents doing (probably because they have people who do it for them), and it’s hard to look glamorous while folding laundry. I have tried.

I think as a parent there is no way to choose who my children look up to. The boys, their dad, and I have always talked about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and how amazing a person he was. Their dad talks about the teachings of Buddha with them. My eldest is big into sports so I try to talk about those athletes who have done well and are doing well, like Robert Griffin III. We have talked about Rihanna and Chris Brown and the fact that hitting a woman is not okay. We have talked about Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods and the questionable choices they’ve made as well as the good things they have accomplished.

I think when celebrities mess up it becomes another ‘teachable moment’. I think it is important for adults to speak with kids and let them know that celebrities are just human beings. Admire them for their sports prowess or their achievements but talk to them about the other choices they’re making in their lives as well if necessary.

This doesn’t mean the heat is totally off us parents, or other adults in children’s lives. We should all strive to be positive role models, I just think it’s important to talk about all of this stuff with children. Not talking about when celebrities mess up doesn’t make it just go away, and celebrities are going to mess up. It goes back to that whole ‘being human’ thing. This is one reason I was so shocked that Kristen Stewart made some personal choices that she probably wishes she hadn’t made. I honestly thought she was a robot.

Also, kids are often a lot smarter than we think. My 11 year old is currently anti-Bieber (after a short stint of being Pro-Bieber) because he read that he smoked and that is just not cool. Of course this same child is also big into some unsavory rap music sometimes and we have had discussions about that too, but that’s a whole other post.

If you are given a chance to be a role model, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person’s life in a positive light, and that’s what I want to do. That’s what it’s all about.

– Tiger Woods

4 Responses to “Role Models”

  1. Peter February 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    When I was a kid I worshipped anything that wore Yankee pinstripes.  Of course, I stopped looking to athletes for any wisdom ages ago. If my son asked me about ball players and what’s really important I’d tell him but so far he’s shown no interest in any sports star, or any player at all.

    As for me, Muhammad Ali might be the exception. What current celebrity would risk EVERYTHING he had achieved, while just reaching his prime, in a profession that typically last 5 years or less, to take an unpopular stand against a US war? That’s what a role model does.

    I have told my son about Ali.

    • Amy February 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      Totally agree with you on the Ali thing. True role model in every sense of the word as far as I’m concerned.

  2. JokerSATX February 19, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    I try my best to give as much reality to my kids as possible. My job is to have my kids understand the rules so they can win. Will this make me a role model? Probably not. But I think they will learn that I may be the best choice for them out there by comparison to today’s standards….

    • Amy February 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

      I totally agree with you Mr. Joker. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

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