Growing up, I do not remember idolizing anyone in particular. There wasn’t a celebrity, or anyone really, that stands out to me that I really wanted to be like. Except my mom. My mom was my role model. She wasn’t a celebrity, she is far from famous, but who I am and the things I do now are, in part, due to my mom and how she was. I am not exactly like my mom, and do not do everything like her. However, I learned kindness, and how to treat other people from my mom. My mom is not perfect, but she has a lot of good qualities that I wanted to model myself after.
Recently there has been talk about how Beyoncé’ is not a good role model. A lot of focus has been placed on her career, and who her husband is. I can agree that her career is more adult-oriented. I mean, she dances around half-naked on stage, and some of her songs are sexual. I can also agree that her husband has a bad past, as he was a drug dealer. However, there are good qualities to both of them, as well. Beyoncé’ is a savvy businesswoman. She has done well to surround herself with savvy business people, and has learned a lot about the business. She knows who she is, and what she wants out of her career. She gives back to the community through projects like the “Move Your Body” campaign she did with Michelle Obama. She is also very family oriented. She is very close to her family, keeps them involved in her life, and cherishes their opinions. As for her husband, he may have been a former drug dealer, but he has turned it around, and is now a very successful businessman. These are all good qualities!
It’s important for our children to know right from wrong, how to treat other people, and how to be a good, productive citizen. However, I think it’s equally important, if not more, to point out the good in people. Nobody is perfect, and nobody should be idolized as such, but constantly pointing out the negative can lead children to believe it’s acceptable to criticize, judge, and demean people. Instead of pointing out that Jay-Z is a former drug dealer, how about talking about how he overcame his drug dealing past to become successful in his career, and business ventures.
There are people in this world that are evil, and not someone I would want my child to admire in any way. However, I can not think of one person that is perfect. Betty Ford was an alcoholic, but got help, and turned her past into something that could help other people in a positive way. Does her past make her a bad role model? I do not think so.
Maybe I am too accepting of people, and choose to not always see the negative in someone. I choose to focus on the positive, on a person’s character. A person’s past does not always define who they are now. A person’s career choice does not automatically make them a good or bad person. It’s far more important to look at the person for who they really are. Maybe if we took the time to point out more positive qualities in people, instead of the negative, we could pick a person up, and help them better themselves and their community. That drug dealer on the corner may not know any other way of life, but if we focused on their good qualities, maybe they could turn their life around. The prostitute out on the streets may seem like an obvious candidate for a bad role model, but maybe she is a kind and caring person who has ideas on how to make the world a better place, but can’t dig herself out of the darkness to think she is good enough.
Teach your kids right from wrong, but do not forget to focus more on the good. I think it can lead to confidence in themselves, and it can work to steer away from negative actions like prejudice. It’s like the old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”