Kids need heroes. They need role models.
And our culture has no shortage of role models. I don’t think there’s an application to fill out or an interview process to become some kid’s role model. There’s no certificate. You just become one.
The problem with that system is that all kinds of people are running around, being role models, who have absolutely no business being looked up to by young children.
Simple question today: who is your kid’s hero? You probably won’t like the answer.
Role Model Reject: Musicians
If you have not seen this video, I can’t say I blame you. But 30 million people have. It’s a clip of Ellen Degeneres’ show wherein two little girls get to meet Nicki Minaj. The girls nearly crap in their tutus at this event.
If you are not familiar with Nicki Minaj, then you are lucky. But if you watched the Grammy’s, she did the religiously themed performance that featured her being possessed and girls gyrating in front of praying holy men.
And almost as bad as the performance were some of the reactions from my corner of the blog world. I saw dozens of Christians tweet and blog things like, “Say what you will, you have to hand it to Nicki Minaj. She is talented.”
No, I do not have to hand anything to Nicki Minaj, least of all the assertion that she has “talent,” and I don’t understand any Christian who would tweet such a ludicrous thing. Nicki Minaj appears to have sold her soul to the devil like Tommy Johnson, but forgot to ask for a decent singing voice in return.
Musicians are some of the first, and least deserving people to be idolized by kids. Kids plug their iPods into their ears and fill their spongy heads with ridiculous, sexual, antisocial messages. Your kids hear their musical idols more than their teachers, their youth pastors, even you. Do you know what they are preaching to your kids?
Role Model Reject: Sports Heroes
I’m not saying that all sports figures are giant tools. I’m not saying that even most of them are. But what is inexcusable is the amount of worship we heap on these overgrown children for their ability to play games. An athlete is likely your son’s first or second idol. What do most boys what to do when they grow up? Be a ball player. Makes me wonder what boys wanted to do before pro sports.
Most kids naturally grow out of the pipe dream of being a pro athlete, or an astronaut, or a fire truck. But many boys have to have this dream taken away far too late, when they try our and fail to make the ball team. We wonder why so many kids aren’t more motivated to work hard in school. Look at who they are idolizing. We allow kids to idolize athletics instead of academics, and then wonder why they aren’t motivated to work hard in school.
Role Model Reject: Fantasy Land
You will never stop kids from fantasizing about being Harry Potter or Super Mario. I don’t want to. There have been many shows, books, characters and stories that have filled my need for fantasy and escapism.
But kids have an uncanny ability to get lost in a fantasy, to memorize and recite and re-enact scenes from shows or video games, to live in their minds in a fictional world. The sixth graders last week interrupted class to break into a spontaneous rendition of Skyrim.
I always point and laugh at people who think that the oral tradition that the Israelites used to pass down the Old Testament was horribly flawed and inaccurate. “People could never remember all those stories without error!” they assert. Bah!” I say. How many random quotations from endless movies and sitcoms can I recite, completely extemporaneously? I’ve never seen the written scripts, but I could be an understudy in The Office. That’s oral tradition, suckers. We remember the stories that are important to us. We underestimate our ability to memorize things just because we waste our ability on stupid stuff.
The question is: how much of your kid’s brain is taken up by fantasy, verses truth?
And don’t tell me they’ll grow out of it. You have to draw the line. I give you exhibit A of failed parents:
Okay, let’s hear it. Who were your idols when you were kids? Who are your kids looking up to? Who do your kids love right now that you can’t stand?