A child comes into this world without knowledge of love, hate, prejudice, greed, good or evil. They learn these things by observing the actions and words of others—role models.
Role models definitely play an integral “role” in shaping the behavior of young people. As children age, they want to “be like” and “act like” their role models; they start emulating things these individuals say and do. It’s great when those actions and words are what we want for our youth, but that’s not always the case.
When I think of role models, the first that come to mind are famous people—athletes, movie stars, singers, etc. Folks like Rickie, Jordon, Tiger, Denzel, George, Julia, Carrie, and you. Who? That’s right, even YOU!
The good news is you don’t have to be famous to be one. In many ways, we are all role models because we influence the actions, behavior, and character of children. That’s a bit scary isn’t it!
Here’s the bad news—YOU ARE a role model for youth in some way, shape, or form. Think about that for a moment. Young folks observe your actions, reactions, and listen to things you say, even when you don’t realize they are doing it. Yep, they’re always watching and listening! Your actions and words often influence (good or bad) their young-impressionable minds. For some of them, YOU may be the most important person in their lives. As a parent, grandparent, relative, friend, coach, or teacher you may spend a lot of time with them. Enjoy the time with them, but try to be a good influence also.
Unfortunately, you are not always at your best. That applies to everyone! There are times in life when you have bad days; it happens! Your frustrations mount as one small thing after another builds pressure within you until you can’t take anymore. You burst like a pinpricked balloon, releasing a volley of gestures or words that are not always representative of good behavior. You react in ways you would never want young minds to witness or emulate.
I think I’ve seen the full spectrum of role-model behavior in my lifetime. For instance, as I watch my grandchildren performing in various events, typically sports, I’m sometimes shocked how some adults act around young folks. Saying it politely, I think some fans and coaches bring their pinpricked-balloon attitudes to the ballpark. They are not exactly the role models I want in the lives of my grandchildren, but they do serve a practical purpose—how NOT to act. More often than not, everyone acts civil, which is good and healthy for the character development of youth.
Just for fun, look at the short list below and select one individual from each line who you think would be the best role model for the young folks you know.
- Miley Cyrus Carrie Underwood
- Al Sharpton Dr. Ben Carson
- Tim Tebow Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner
- Tiger Woods Jordan Spieth
- President Bush President Obama
- Michelle Obama Condoleezza Rice
- YOURSELF Uncle Joe/Aunt Sue
I’m sure you get the picture. YOU are the best role model for the young folks in your corner of the world. Congratulations! There are probably days when you would choose Uncle Joe or Aunt Sue over yourself—especially on your burst-balloon days. Hang in there because you CAN make a big difference!
So, what are your actions and words teaching children in your sphere of influence? Do you need to do some minor tweaking to your efforts? I certainly do!
Be a good role model… the world could use another one!
Your certificate: print, date, and sign it—go forth and make a difference!
Tom Tatum – Author – 2015
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