Day 98 Question 98:
Do celebrities have a responsibility to be good role models for kids and teens?
This weekend I had dinner with my parents. I have been spending more time with them lately because sometimes I slack and go far too long without seeing them. I live only 10 minutes away from them so I don’t really have an excuse. I am making a point to make time…life is moving really fast and I don’t want to have any regrets.
Anyhoooooo, as per usual my dad and I had some pretty passionate conversations. He was telling me about how NY State is working on passing a bill allowing for a very in-depth sex education class in schools. This class will discuss contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, alternative lifestyles, etc. Apparently this class is going to be very IN YOUR FACE! My dad seemed to not agree with this (even though he never specifically said it) and I am for this entire idea. My dad and I are in agreement on one thing though when it comes to this issue…the main teaching of this subject should come from home. Unfortunately this is rarely the case….for whatever the reason may be…too embarrassed to talk to kids about this, too busy, not sure what to say, etc. In my opinion kids these days need In Your Face teaching if we want them to make good decisions. Life is not always going to work out in their favor and we need to prepare kids for their and just be honest with them. We live in a society where every team member gets a participating trophy. I understand the concept of that because we don’t want any kids feeling bad or feeling left out but honestly (again, just my opinion) what are we teaching our kids? Real life not does not work that way. In life we have winners and losers and what it comes down to is teaching our kids to lose with dignity and to continue trying harder and harder.
With the question at hand it seems as if I have veered in a different direction (yes, real shocking for me huh..lol) but in truth so many things are tied together when we view the actions of people (children and adults alike). Honestly, I believe, the media has taken over so much of this world and celebrities are the current “role models” for children/teens. Now, the question is, whether these celebrities have a responsibility to be GOOD role models for children, teens and even adults. Well, because of freedom of expression and their own belief systems they can do as they choose. They do not have any obligation to act a certain way just because their career keeps them in the public spotlight all of the time. With that being said, I do believe, that if they are decent human beings that they will ALWAYS TRY to be positive role models.
The definition of what a positive role model really is is going to differ for a lot of people…especially when it comes to celebrities. We, as human beings, have so many different customs, traditions and values and if a celebrity withholds different values they may never be perceived as a good role model. I have seen both good and horrible role models in the entertainment industry. The problem is…there is no consequences for bad behavior. Ok, let me tell you what I mean. Michael Vick was found at his house and was responsible for the killing of many dogs. He had dogs taking part in brutal vicious fights and he would even have some dogs hanging by chains. I can only imagine what the entire scene looked like and who knows how long this was even taking place. Well as many of you all know, Michael Vick is a NFL football player that makes millions of dollars every year. In my opinion, he received a slap on the hand and received a mere 2 years (or actually I believe less) in jail and he is right back on the field playing football and collecting a very hefty check. There are people that have “pirated” movies or music that have received much harsher sentences. So, what kind of message are we giving to our kids? Maybe Michael Vick is sorry but in my opinion he is being rewarded for disgraceful and disgusting actions. I am not saying he should have never been allowed to play football again but I would have been much more convinced of his “rehabilitation” if I were to read about him doing a great deal of community service and making speeches declaring how truly sorry he was. He needed to get his face out in the public and take ownership for his actions and tell people how wrong cruelty to animals is. He didn’t do that (at least not that I saw). Instead he got a slap on the hand and then a welcome back into the NFL. Again, his personal life and public life should not have to be mixed but unfortunately they do. Once you live the life of fame, your personal life is almost non-existent and every choice you make (bad and good) is going to be splattered all over the newspapers and magazines. Celebrities don’t have to choose to be good role models but if they don’t want to look like no-good assholes they probably should at least try.
All adults should strive to be positive role models no matter what their “status” is. I can’t state this enough, people are going to make mistakes and that is natural in life but it is so much better to take ownership of your mistakes and admit you are wrong than to make a million excuses and point fingers. We are teaching our children nothing by doing this…well excuse me…we are teaching them ignorance and how to be manipulative. I believe it is fine to be silly with your kids and have strong relationships. I don’t think it is necessary to raise your kids military style in order for them to never cause problems or have issues in life. I believe it is important to be a role model by showing kids what happiness is…showing kids what curiosity is….showing kids the importance of education and knowledge and always search for everything that interests them. Being a good role model 100% of the time is impossible…we all make mistakes and make stupid choices in the heat of the moment. To be a good role model is simple though…show love over hate, try to make the best decisions you can and if sometimes you don’t then apologize when needed or admit that you were wrong, explain that losing is not the end of the world and show to them that losing can actually end up making you stronger, allow your children to decide for themselves and show them all different sides of the issues (don’t force your children to think and act like you), encourage them to always do the best that they can and reward them when they are successful, show them what hard work is and allow them to help so they don’t form any mentality of entitlements.
Celebrities can live their lives as they choose. Whether we like it or not they are a different breed of people. They are the people that will always be in the spotlight and whether we like it or not they are the people that are children are looking up to and modeling their behaviors and choices from. It is not their responsibility to be good role models but we hope they choose to take that route. I have said it 1,000,000 times and now it time 1,000,001…it truly does take a village to raise a child. I am not a parent but I am surrounded by children day in and day out and I am aware of how much my actions can influence them. For parents out there, you are your child’s biggest hero…even if you have not made all of the right choices and maybe you are not proud of your actions, your child/children are absorbing everything that you do. They are not aware that your actions are wrong. As adults we need to constantly remind ourselves of this. Kids don’t know right from wrong unless they are taught that and if you aren’t practicing what you preach then you are setting your children up for failure. How is that fair?
As a person I have made some big mistakes in my life but from here on out I hope I can be looked at as a mentor and a role model. People may not always agree with my views but my heart is filled with goodness and what matters to be the most is the happiness of other people whether big or small.
I’ll reply with other questions.
Do celebrities *want* to be a bad role model for children?
Should celebrities feel obligated to consider their effect on children, or are they working/making art because it’s their job, and whomsoever chooses to be entertained by it is responsible for themselves?
Angelina and Brad got started (possibly) by an affair, are committed and have 6 children out of wedlock. Poor role models? Chris Brown, Jackson Brown and R Kelly’s reputations don’t seem to have been harmed by beating women and molesting very young girls. Parents are in charge of their children. If parents don’t allow hero worship of someone nasty, then the celebrities should be able to do what they want without worrying that children will be harmed.
Jeez, I started rambling somewhere in there and didn’t even realize. 🙂
I cannot agree with you more. Parents need to BE role models for their kids…apologize when you are wrong, when you lose your temper, when you do something “not so stellar”. Show how nice praise can be, and I’m not just talking about trophies for participating in a sport.
An example is an example, good, bad or otherwise. If more parents took the initiative to raise their child beyond feeding them, clothing them, buying them “stuff” and driving them to & from sports and actually worked at being positive role models (and for God’s sake…follow-through on CONSEQUENCES when they misbehave…don’t get me started), it would really be a lot easier on everyone, including themselves, in the long run.
No one said parenting was easy. Anyone who says that it is is doing it wrong. I truly believe that if you are a good person, and TRY to do the right thing…well that’s a great start.
I believe that parents play the biggest role. It opens communication, when I see something I wouldn’t condone for my children. They cannot be kept in a bubble, but they can receive their parents morals. 🙂
i won’t say “in my humble opinion” because i’m not humble.
anyway, celebrities do not have an obligation unless their field directly involves children. if you’re a star on a disney show, you damn well better what what you’re doing that kids might see. if you’re an NBA star, then you’re not mainly there to entertain kids, so i don’t see any obligation other than to be a civil human being. which they all have that obligation, celebrity or not.
beyond that, the obligation lies with the parents. we have the obligation to be aware of which celebrities our kids are following. we have an obligation to know something about those celebrities and then talk to our kids about them if there’s a reason to do so. now i’m kicking myself to remember a musician my kid liked, and then i told her something about that singer/whatever, and then my kid was done listening to that person’s music. just wish i could remember who i was because – obviously – i’m sooo influential. 😉
I am in complete agreement Dinae…Well put (as usual!)…:-D
I love how the news reporter at the end just sums it up “You know..If you’re a parent, you better not be trusting a celebrity or an athlete to be a role model..you better be your own kids role model..”
That’s it right there in a nutshell for me!
I agree with your views on sex education (and with the rest of your post, for that matter). Our schools should do better. Unfortunately, it’s an uphill battle in many places.
I don’t have any kids, but, I used to be a kid.
And, I know most parents want keep their kids … innocent.
Well, good luck with the “soft porn” in the grocery checkout line.
Sex education … a must.
As well as you I would hope every adult would take the role of molding children positively. However the primary role is the parents. I believe no one is obligated to be a role model to a child more than those who have brought them here.
If we lived close I know we would be friends :0)
I think so too 🙂
Definitely start all deep subjects that have layers i.e. sex, need to commence in the home, parents are usually better mediators and can know what’s on your childrens minds and going in their lives. I’d simplify my family life by having these life changing experiences. Sincerely Deborah
Leadership by example isn’t so much a concept as it is a simple fact.
They will learn of the world – and how to interact with it – through your actions. Both the good and the bad. I pray for mine that there’s more of the former than the latter =]
I think celebraties have a social responsibility to set a model for our children, especially if their audience are of the younger set. I also believe that the ultimate role model must be the child’s parents. Schools should not be the ones teaching things of a sexual nature, however, if the parents are not teaching their children, someone must! Peace…:)
Generally, I don’t believe they should. That said, if you’re famous for something directly related to children, say, a kids show host, then it’s probably a good idea to be mindful of perception and reach of influence. But does that apply to anyone who’s famous? Absolutely not.
Look at the people on all the “reality” shows. They are “famous” and pulling in big bucks because people will happily sit on their butts mindlessly watching every episode of their obnoxious lives. Isn’t that a sorry state for our adults to be in? Isn’t it pitiful that their young children are either watching it with them or hearing it from the bedroom after they are tucked into bed.
I’m NOT letting adults off the hook. Who is footing the bill for the music, the clothes, the movies? Do parents care? If parents care they will raise children that care. It’s one of those home grown things.
Thanks for letting me borrow your soapbox. I love your thought provoking posts!
Anytime my friend Anytime :0)
I firmly believe that anytime anyone gets in the public eye, they should be extremely mindful of the influence they are having on young people! To whom much is given, from them much is required!