At Issue: Finding Role Models

Exhibit One:  Miley Cyrus’ appearance at the MTV Video Awards a few weeks ago.

I won’t link to it. You’ve seen it already, or if you haven’t, it’s because you’ve steadfastly decided not to. Still, you know what happened:  Miley  performed an over-the-top, highly sexually suggestive dance with Robin Thicke. There was grinding, and twerking, and a foam “Cheer Finger” was used to naughty effect. It was, for most of us, crass and uncomfortable to watch.

The headlines the next day proclaimed the official “death” of her Disney character, Hannah MontanaHanna Montana, for those of you with younger children, was a Disney TV show staring Miley Cyrus, who portrayed an average pre-teen by day, and a famous pop-star by night. Beloved of many, Miley Cyrus was considered a role model for her wholesome portrayal of an ordinary kid with a secret identity.

English: Miley Cyrus at the premiere for Hanna...

English: Miley Cyrus at the premiere for Hannah Montana: The Movie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exhibit Two:   Justin Bieber,  who went from squeaky clean teen sensation to someone whose club hopping, occasional paparazzi-scuffling antics threaten to overshadow his musical career.

Exhibit Three:  Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, or any other athlete whose personal misdeeds  belied their public persona.

This week,  4Mothers looks at role models.   As parents, how do we talk to our kids about finding positive role models in a world where fame appears to equal integrity? On the flip side, is it possible to find positive role models in the media, and what do we tell our children when, as often happens, these people turn out to be mere mortals like the rest of us? Join us this week, and as always we invite you to join the discussion.

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9 thoughts on “At Issue: Finding Role Models

  1. From experience, I feel like we should encourage children to look to people from the past as role models. I don’t feel like most of the sensationalized people we see on TV are really fit role models for anyone. They really are just “mere mortals” and they are bound err. That’s part of their journey in life. I think kids should be directed towards those that have already lived, people who’s lives they can learn from. They can see obstacles overcome and different aspects of someone else’s life. Lessons we can draw from the past can certainly be morals for our present and future. This also gives them the opportunity to really get to know a figure from history that they can relate to for whatever reason. If you go with someone current, their falls in life are going to be a bit overwhelming, and the lesson involved might not be as clear as someone that has lived and gone.
    I’m not a Mom, but I’ve noticed this in my own childhood hunt for a decent role model. I wanted someone to revere and look up to, and I was not finding it in the media. It’s an idea that I’d love to pass on to my kids too, if I end up having any 🙂

  2. Church youth groups are usually a great place to find good influence for your kids even if you don’t believe in God at all. Lots of fun and activities usually led by people who want the best for them. The great thing with church in general is that it covers all ages, so young people get to mix with the old who have travelled the road before…and yes, they are mere mortals too! Find one in your area and you might just be surprised!

  3. What makes a role model? Is it our job as parents to help our children find them? There was an incredible role model on Australian Story tonight – I’d highly recommend watching it on iview (with your kids?!). A 16 yo girl voicing her eloquent opinion about selfies & demonstrating unbelievable courage in her convictions.

  4. It’s important not to mistake fame for character. As a mother, I must teach my kids the difference. On the other hand, I want my kids to be free to admire imperfect people. It is sad – for both the admirer and the admired – when vilify role models for their flaws and mistakes. I’d like my kids to be free to admire Miley’s singing voice and success or Tiger’s swing and dedication without needing those people to embody all their ideals in a single package. I want my kids to know that everyone – whether known to thousands or just a few – has strengths and weaknesses and that expecting anyone to be ideal all the time is unrealistic. Some of my best learning lessons were the result of watching someone I admired screw up.

  5. I myself did not like Miley’s performance however, I also have to respect that she is growing up and trying to find her way. That said, I would encourage my children to really stay away from “celebrity” role models because we only see the side that is portrayed by their publicist or the tabloids. I have no problem with them liking their music, movies, etc., but they need to look at their teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. as role models. Great post!!

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