In case you somehow missed the news, Justin Bieber went and got himself arrested. He was charged with driving under the influence, drag racing and resisting arrest. Now, parents are tasked with figuring out how to explain to their children that their hero isn’t quite a good role model anymore.
Notice we didn’t go with the mug shot? That picture is everywhere and totally over-played at this point. This isn’t the first time Justin Bieber has been in trouble with the law, although previous incidents passed without official charges. While the charges were bad enough, people were mostly in an outrage over the fact that Bieber was smiling in his mug shot. In fact, the outrage grew to epic proportions when hundreds of thousands of people actually signed a petition to have Bieber deported.
Whether Justin Bieber actually spends time in jail remains to be seen. We all know how celebrities get different treatment than average citizens who commit the same crime. It’s all kind of moot, though, as the damage to his reputation is done, at least as far as moms go. The big question is, how do you handle it when your child’s role models go bad like this? How do you explain to a kid that as much as they liked Bieber, he’s not someone they should be emulating?
The Justin Bieber Debacle: Talking to Your Child About Role Models Gone Bad
As much as we want our kids to be their own person and not look up to any celebrity as a role model, realistically speaking, kids want to be like the famous people they adore. Back when Justin Bieber first came on the scene, he was a pretty clean-cut kid. I never really got into his music- just not my thing- but he wasn’t a “bad” egg or anything.
What worries me most about the Justin Bieber debacle is that if he does get off, kids will think “hey, I can drive with an expired license high as a kite, going over the speed limit and not get in trouble!” This is where having a good talk with your kids about role models gone bad comes in handy. After all, this is a little more serious than role models eating junk food! Check out these tips to help with the discussion.
- Have an open, age-appropriate conversation with your child about the acts involved. Make sure your child understands the severity of what Bieber- or any other role model gone bad- has done. Using drugs, drinking under age, driving under the influence and drag racing are all incredibly dangerous acts. Focus on the danger of the acts, not on the boy behind them.
- Ask your child why she thinks Justin Bieber acted this way. We’re not talking deep psychological analysis here, but by discussing the “why” behind the act, you can open the conversation up to discussing how fame can cause some people to act out in unexpected ways. It helps humanize their idol a bit, which may knock him down of the pedestal your child has placed him on.
- Talk about how Bieber’s family must feel about the mess. Again, by talking about his parent’s and family’s feelings, you’re turning him into more of a human in your child’s eyes. Plus it gives you a chance to talk about how you would feel if your child ever did anything like this.
- Let your child know that it is okay to like the music without admiring the person. Don’t expect your daughter to run upstairs and chuck all of Bieber’s CDs in the garbage. We’ve all listened to music put out by less-than-ideal role models. For example, Olfa’s daughter loves Lady Gaga music without emulating the woman herself! It’s okay if your child still like his songs (although again, I just don’t get it), the point is to make sure they understand that just because someone writes music they enjoy doesn’t mean they’re good people to look up to.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that your child’s role models will change frequently. In fact, by the time you finish your conversation they’ll probably have moved on to the next “big thing.” Still, talking about it is important because it opens up sensitive topics that you need to discuss eventually anyway- like drugs and alcohol. Justin Bieber heads to court in March to answer for his alleged crimes. We’ll see how that plays out. For his sake, I hope he gets at least some reasonable consequences. Maybe it will help straighten him out before it’s too late. He is still a kid, after all. He still has a chance to set his future on the right path.
What do you think of the Justin Bieber mess? Why do you think kids who seemingly have everything end up messing up in such major ways?