When I was a teenager, I had a variety of posters on the walls of the room I shared with my sister. Rock stars and movie stars lined most of the walls, save the wall on which my sister had hung her baby animals poster. I eyed that piece of prime wall real estate often, trying to coax her into letting us have something less juvenile.
While pictures of celebrities are not bad in and of themselves, we need to think about what these people stand for and why we emulate them. I cringe, not only at my selfishness toward my sister’s one wall poster, but also when I think of the people on my walls – those I looked up to and wanted to emulate.
In hindsight, they are not the type of people I would have wanted to grow up to be like. Actually, they were the exact opposite.
I am astounded sometimes to see what celebrities kids and teens choose for their role models. Some are drug users, authority bashers, anti-American, anti-God people who place a high emphasis on seeing what they can get away with. Not what we would want our own children to aspire to become.
When we think of role models, they can be from a variety of scenarios: celebrities, historical figures, family, friends, or people in the community. They can be people we have never met or they can be those with whom we have a relationship. They can still be alive or they could have passed on years ago.
So, how can we help our kids choose good role models?
Talk over the values and morals that your family embraces. Encourage honest and open dialogue about the principles and behavior that are important character traits.
Be on the lookout for role models. Look to the Bible, your extended family, church, and among close friends for suggestions. If your son or daughter could grow up to be just like someone they know/like, who would that be?
Reinforce the importance of character.
Ask your child who they admire. Ask what traits draw them to that person as a role model.
Consider whether you are a good role model for your child. Ask any parent and they will tell you the shock of the first time they realized their child had “taken on” one of their bad traits. None of us are perfect. Far from it. But with God’s grace and help, we can model godly behavior for our children.
Ponder the following criteria for helping your child choose good role models:
Do they have a heart for God? Do they live a Godly life rather than just saying they are a Christian? There are a lot of people who are a Christian in name only. They say one thing, and do quite the other. One thing I have noticed, particularly in sports figures, is they will declare the name of Jesus, but they won’t take a stand for Him and/or for what is right.
Do they have integrity? Have they been caught “doing the right thing”?
How do they treat the less fortunate? Especially when it is of no benefit to them?
How do they treat others when they think no one is watching?
Are they generous with their time and resources?
Our kids aren’t likely thinking about character when they choose role models. They are more often thinking about the music artist whose music they enjoy listening to, the movie star who has cute clothes and hair, or the classmate who seems to have everything. There’s a real possibility they could be resistant to our suggesting alternative role models to the one(s) they have chosen.
But with our patient help and God’s guidance, they can navigate the wide range of choices in today’s society and choose a role model that will influence their lives for the better.
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