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Role Models

January 18, 2007

Who should our children's role models be? Shouldn't we help them decide?

 

In this entry I take a leave of absence from the humorous side of parenting into the more serious territory – education.

 

I had an interesting experience this week with one of my daughter's homework assignments. She came home with a suggested list of "great famous black Americans" and was asked to pick someone and write about that person. The usuals were there – Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman. But then, as I read further down the list I discovered some not-so-great black Americans including among others a rapper who talks about killing cops, a pop star/sex symbol, athletes who boast about their sexual exploits, and an accused child molester living in exile. Immediately, I thought – we can do better than this.

 

I started making my own list – Colin Powell, Maya Angelou, Willie Mays, Nat King Cole, Condoleezza Rice, Tiger Woods, Ella Fitzgerald ... It wasn't hard. In fact in just a matter of minutes my husband and I had filled an entire piece of notebook paper with possibilities.

 

To the school's credit they met about the list and are sending home a letter and an updated list. Apparently the children had input in making the list. This notion stopped me dead in my tracks ...

 

As adults we have the responsibility to explain to our kids who is a good role model, and who is not. In that process we owe them explanations as to why certain people are not to be emulated. I think it's a cop out to simply throw up our hands and say we can't do any better. The reality is that we can and should do better. Sure, it begins at home, but then schools need to partner with us in this critical effort.

 

The world is moving very fast today and as a result pop culture is something children are bombarded with and are quickly learning to emulate. It's our job to put the breaks on. If we don't, we're going to have a bunch of wannabe pop-stars running around with criminal records instead of gold records.

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