To be a role model is to be someone who is regarded by others, particularly younger people, as a good example to follow. That’s a pretty huge burden to bear. And whilst I’m happy…no, scrap that. Whilst I want to play such a role for my child, nieces and other young people in observation of me, like I’d imagine most parents want, it is a role that I deem a choice and not a given because of celebrity status.
We cannot consider every footballer that beats his chest on the pitch, every rapper that freestyles their life story on stage and every contemporary pop singer that twerks her backside off to express her musical merriment to be our young people’s role model! And why should they be? They are human beings riddled with flaws like you and me, living their life to their own contentment. If their life choices permit them to grab their crotch, verbalise obscenities in public without a care in the world, and do the things that go against spectators’ ethics, then that’s their business.
And if you don’t like that footballer’s, rapper’s or singer’s conduct then it is your business not to expose yourself, your child, within reason pending their age, to the conduct that you disagree with. It is also your business to express your concerns with the behaviours you deem unsavoury by others to young people so they are clear on the behaviours you do/do not endorse and why. Post declaration of your concerns, there should then be an element of choice from a young person. Ideally, your child will also carry a lifetime of guidance and judgement in understanding what traits of their idolised to leave at the gate of where the exposure occurred.
As parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and friends, we can make the choice to be leaders in the role of role models for the young people amongst us. Our way of living should be part of the aspirations young people set their goals against. Aspire to inspire. Be the best that we can be. Achieve our full potential. If we don’t own this role by choice, we leave it to the choice-less celebrity living their life the best way they know how…in the moment. In the end, the final decisions in life will come down to the young person. Let’s give them a rounded pool of role models to take influence from.