Family Matters
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What do you tell your kids?

When you see a celebrity/sports star/singer/performer who your child is a fan of get in trouble (arrested, do something you don't approve of/you wouldn't want your own kid doing, rehab, etc,.), what do you tell your kid?  Do you use it as a teaching moment?  How do you handle this?  

Re: What do you tell your kids?

  • I'm not at the point where I'm handling this with my own children yet, but I've had to handle it with students who've brought things up in class.  Most recently it's been domestic violence/abuse with the Chris Brown/Rihanna dustup and drug use with Michael Phelps and the bong pictures.

    Generally, the kids know that the behavior is wrong (every once in a while I have a student who wants to argue for the legalization of marijuana or something like that), and what they really want to know is why people do things like that and what the best reaction should be.  They also like to talk about whose fault it is and how the laws should be or are applied.

    I usually emphasize the point with them that people are more than the sum of their actions, and while it's appropriate and just to expect folks to live up to the full consequences of their behavior, it's not okay to consign a person to the category of worthlessness based on his or her bad actions.  FWIW, my students are juniors and seniors in high school (and it's a Catholic school that requires ethics courses).

    I think that bad behavior, whether it's a celeb's or your child's own, is always a teachable moment.  It's a chance for you to say "We value X in our home."  It's also a chance to send the message that even though people make mistakes and do bad things, that doesn't necessarily mean they're bad people, which is important for kids to know -- that we will love them in spite of their wrongdoings, even as we hold them accountable for their actions.

    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Lilypie Fourth Birthday tickers Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
  • Similar to scherza, I have dealt with this issue more in the classroom than with my own children.  We watch only a little TV, so my kids aren't really in touch with celebrities other than Arthur and Sid the Science Kid.  But I do try to things they see on TV as "teachable moments" whenever possible.

    I teach middle school -- also at a private parochial school -- where teachers are permitted and even expected to help convey the school's ethics and morals to the students.

    Middle schoolers are VERY enamored of celebrities, but are too young to have a realistic notion of what these people's lives are really like.  I try to help the students understand that they should be skeptical of the way celebrities are portrayed in the media, both when the media elevates celebrities and also when famous folks are ridiculed.  I try to help them see that there are pros and cons of being a celebrity that are probably different from the pros and cons the students perceive.

    For instance, in the school where I teach, EVERY kid goes to college, and getting a bachelor's is considered a bare minimum.  Education is highly valued.  The kids are astonished to find out that many of their favorite stars not only didn't go to college, but also didn't finish high school!  This is inconceivable to my students.  It helps them put the celeb's actions and statements into a more realistic context. 

    Like scherza mentioned in her post, I try to emphasize that people should be held accountable for their actions, but I also try to help the students see that, for all the glamour/money/fame the celebs have, many have lives that are far less happy/fulfilling/stable than the students themselves do!


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