The truth about being your tween's role model - with Cam Newton's hel

Was it arrogance or confidence?

She described it with words, such as "chest puffs", "pelvic thrusts" and "arrogant struts".

I promise this is a G-rated post.

These were words used in a letter written by a Tennessee mom to the Charlotte Observer newspaper, in reference to Cam Newton's touchdown celebration in a game with the Tennessee Titans in November.

The Tennessee Mom caught attention because she wrote about how Cam's behavior prompted many questions about his character from her daughter. She mentioned that Cam is a "role model" and now many kids would emulate the same "thrusts" he displayed on the football field.

The truth is that kids will pick sports figures, rappers, reality celebrities to be their role models because all of their friends are doing it. It's the popular thing to do.

Just because a child chooses to do this doesn't mean the parent should just sit back and do nothing. Parents still have influence. Our kids see us every day. They only see their sports figures/celebrities on screen. As parents, we can still:

Help them form healthy spending habits with the money they currently have until they reach Cam Newton's financial status.

Model how to treat everyone - from the homeless person on the street to your neighbor to your boss at work. 

Give them a first-hand look at how to listen to others. They pay attention to how we listen, not only them but to our husbands/wives/significant others. 

Show them how we pull ourselves up when we get kicked down.

Model a healthy lifestyle which includes exercising regularly and eating right.

Show them how we own up to mistakes instead of hiding from them.

Show them how to keep commitments by keeping our promises. Even at those times when things change and we aren't able to keep promises, we can still talk to them about the change. 

Enjoy life, laugh and play, showing them we know how precious life is, enough so to love it. 

The truth is that kids are funny. They say one thing but do a completely different thing. They want to fit in, so of course, they pick someone in the spotlight to mimic. Usually, if a parent sets a good example at home, children have a firm foundation and will follow it as they grow.

Currently, I am Tween Girl's favorite celebrity. She writes me notes about how great I am. I am saving those notes for when she becomes a full blown teenager. If I ever lose my status in her eyes, I am pulling out those notes as reminders to her. The truth is, I am sure our relationship will be tested within the next few years. It's a rite of passage. Sure, she has sports figures/celebrities that she likes and there is nothing wrong with that. It's up to me, though, as the parent to continue modeling certain behaviors that I want to see reflected in her as she matures and grows.

After all, just as there are good parents and bad parents, there are good and bad sports figures/celebrities.With the high influence of social media, we can peek into a sports figure/celebrity's life. Still, we don't know what they do from minute to minute.

If a child is mimicking a negative role model, parents can use this as an example of "how not to act". This is a great segway into discussing how bad choices deliver bad consequences.

Psychology Today gives great insight on looking at athletes as good role models.

Who did you aspire to be like when you were a kid? How much are you like that person today?

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