Who’s Your Son’s Role Model?
Yesterday, many children and adults were disappointed to hear that Lance Armstrong admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. In one confession, Lance fell from his title as champion and role model to cheater and liar. As parents, we should be thinking about what this confession teaches our sons.
Growing up I had three role models: My brother, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali. I can’t explain why I chose guys as my role models but to me it wasn’t about their gender but their character. I chose my brother because of his kindness and patience which is rare in an older brother who had to deal with an annoying sister. I liked Bruce Lee because of his quiet but powerful disposition. Muhammad Ali exuded confidence and I thought if anyone could think so much of himself, then I should think highly of myself too.
I didn’t idolize these role models because even in my innocence I knew that no one is perfect. As I grew older, my role models changed with the exception of my brother (who’s still my role model). With maturity came an appreciation for the unconditional love, compassion and support of my parents. My mother exemplified the type of woman I wanted to become. What I ignored and rebelled against in my teen years, I embraced in my adulthood.
Sometimes we don’t choose our role models, they choose us. They quietly slip into our hearts and minds and fill us with words of wisdom and encouragement. You aren’t aware of the power of their influence until you are enlightened enough to see how their words and actions have guided your decisions in life.
Your son’s world is filled with positive and negative influences. There are people whose actions will be reflected in how your son thinks and behaves. We can’t control who our sons choose as role models. We can hope that our sons will choose his father or a male relative that we admire, but you never know. We become concerned that if he chooses someone who might disappoint him that he won’t recover from it.
We may not always approve of our son’s role models but we can help them to see that role models are not infallible. When we rush to vilify a disgraced public figure, we’re actually teaching our sons that to admit failure and weaknesses does not benefit you. We need to have ongoing conversations with our sons about values and help them to understand that people’s personal lives may not always live up to their public image.
What is the lesson we want our sons to learn from Lance Armstrong’s actions and confession? That you shouldn’t lie or cheat or that you shouldn’t get caught.
The most burning question in our minds should be “What will this role model teach my son about being a man?” I think what Lance Armstrong’s actions has taught us is that it is more important to be a man of character and to live by your words than it is to pretend to be a superhero.
Who’s your son’s role model?