Kids need good role models to motivate them to succeed and make appropriate choices. Parents are the earliest role models for children, but as children mature, they often select other role models, and sometimes those role models are celebrities. Parents and celebrities can provide positive and negative role modeling, so encourage your child to choose well and provide the best example you can.
Your influence begins the moment your child is born. He needs to learn how to live and function in our complex world -- he begins this education by observing you, according to the University of Nebraska Extension Family Living Department. Your child learns more from what you do than what you say, so when a choice in behavior must be made, your child is more likely to choose what you do than what you say. You influence your child’s moral character, faith and perspective on people and the world.
As your child matures and becomes more aware of the world around her, she might choose celebrities as role models, including athletes, performers and political personalities. Those people have no responsibility for your child, and might have little concern about the example they set. Youth and teens can imitate these celebrities in behavior, attitude and character. A 2013 study by the Barna Group, a California-based research organization that explores the intersection of religion and culture, found that a majority of people in the U.S. say they believe that professional athletes have a more significant influence than religious leaders. The study notes that athletes who talk about their faith can positively influence others for Christianity.
As a parent, you have an advantage most celebrities don’t have -- you can make a conscious effort to influence your child one-on-one about whatever is most important to you, including cultivating qualities such as respect, kindness, fairness, honesty and self-control. Your contact with your child is more concentrated and interactive, and your child knows what you want. Talk about those issues with your child and be a strong role model as he constructs his moral foundation.
Discussing Celebrity Role Models
If you think your child’s celebrity role models aren’t having a positive effect on him, talk with him about your objections. Reinforce the values you want your child to have. Tell stories about people and characters who you believe provide the kind of modeling your child needs. With teens, learn about your child’s interests and be aware of what he finds interesting and desirable. An open dialogue with respect for your teen’s feelings and interests will probably get you a more favorable response than simply forbidding your child from following a particular celebrity.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Being a Role Model for Your Child
- New Hanover County Schools: Parents as Role Models for Children’s Behavior
- Barna Group: Two-Thirds of Americans Say Pro Athletes Have More Influence on Society than Faith Leaders
- Being a Role Model for School Wellness: How Can Parents be Role Models?
- CommonSense Media: Why Media Role Models Matter
- DisneyFamily.com: Celebrity Role Models
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images