Role Models: The Person Vs. The Persona

rolemodelparentsThe definition of “role model” is a person whose behaviour generally serves as an example and is emulated by others.

A person.  Not a persona.

And therein lies the problem with exalted pop sensations and sport stars.  Most often the public is only privy to the product of an expertly, manipulated media machine and not the whole person.

The most profound role models don’t exist on screens but within the community.  Political leaders, activists, teachers, coaches, people who are striving to leave behind a better world than the one they are living in – these are real people, complete with flaws.

It’s time that we unplugged, clicked out and turned off the constant barrage of media and stepped into our communities, talked with each other and learned about each other’s lives.  The veils of perfection need to come down and honesty and truth need to replace the insecurities that all too often cumber our youth prey for the media.

Role models should be real people who stumble, make mistakes, have regrets but learn to be better from these missteps.  I echo Nathalie’s sentiments from yesterday’s post that role models begin in the family and this quote from Barack Obama (June 2008) although speaking about the absence of fathers in communities, reiterates the value of meaningful familial connections.

“Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.”  

Our children shouldn’t need to look to celebrities for role models.  They should simply be free to admire creativity and skill without seeking direction of how to live a purposeful, mindful, and generous life. 

Cartoon credit:  Kiki & Tea

Being a Role Model: It Begins at Home

Being a role model, like charity, begins at home.  I don’t know about all of you, but I like to think that if my kids had seen the deeply-painful-to-watch spectacle of Miley grinding her way to infamy, they would have done the same thing I did:

Say, “WTF?” and move on.

But my kids and I didn’t see it, because we were off doing other things, as is often the case when “disaster” strikes on tv.

imgres-1Here’s a funny story from our holiday in England.  My husband was with our three boys en route to meet me at Covent Garden and passed a group of very excited people outside of a hotel.  They stopped to ask what was going on, and were told that Hugh Jackman was about to leave the hotel to go to the London premiere of some movie he starred in.  (OK, I know I should have put a Wolverine photo up, but this one’s so much better!)

The boys thought that was pretty cool, the fans gave them some photos to get signed, and they hung out for a while.  Then a while longer.  And then, well, it was time to go.  It looked like Hugh had made an exit somewhere less busy.  No big deal.

“But wait!” cried the fans.  “Take more of these photos.  You can go to the theatre and wait for him there!  Don’t give up!  Don’t you want to give your kids something to remember their trip to London by?”

Seeing as how we think we did an amazing job on the memories to take home from England score, we passed on the chance to stand around waiting for a phantom star appearance later that night.

And that, I think, sums up my approach to the hand-wringing about how celebrities are letting our kids down when they fail to be good role models.  Do your own thing.  If you don’t actually have too much invested in the fame of the famous, they won’t really have an impact on what memories you take home.