As we progress throughout the lifespan, so do our role models.
When I was little I idolized cats. I didn’t have a cat but I adored them through pictures and wall calendars. I eventually moved onto princesses, Strawberry Shortcake, Powerpuff Girls and Power Rangers because they were capable of the impossible. In high school, I moved onto actresses and musicians. They looked so cool and showed me how to dress and behave.
I think the importance of goals regardless of judgement is that it gives us something or someone to look up to. It shows us how they did it so hey, we can too, right? Thankfully, I developed other goals with futuristic importance during middle school which significantly helped fuel my academic career. What about kids that don’t have that? What if their role models are only through media?
Let’s also consider the variable of screen time in the life of a typical American child. It is significantly more hours, more days, and younger and younger ages of initiation. Technology has boomed in recent decades and children consume programs, whether it’s TV, YouTube, social media, video games… the list goes on. So, does technology consumption play a role in role models?
I feel that child ‘followers’ are modeling sexualized behavior that they find online. Some musicians claim that they are owning their sexuality but are they considering their impact on sugestible minds? I think back to what fierce women went through to get suffrage and equal rights. They fought, they marched, they even burned their bras in the name of the movement. Women are more than our bodies. We cannot force-feed a child a cherry-picked celebrity for our daughters to admire (Hello, Michelle Obama). What we can do is talk to our children about topics that they need instruction on.
PSA: We need to talk to them about sex! If they don’t hear it from you then Billy from the neighborhood will tell them his version. Yikes! YouTube influencers are now role models and advising kids of things they could be or should try. This is just a gentle reminder that we need to be parents. We need to teach them as much as we can in order to shoot them off into the world fully prepared. They need discipline and life skills at home in order to make it as adults. We do not need to be helicopter parents that bulldoze any potential obstacle out of the way. We also do not need to be living-in-denial parents that borderline neglect their children’s needs. It is great if we simply be there when a child fails and help them get back up. It is also great if our child is testing our boundaries that we would be able to recognize it and address it. We need to be present and curious to our childrens needs for attention, safety, and love. Childen can never have too many positive role models.