Passing along tidbits on media heroes and conduct

How do the tweens/teens react when the perception of their role model is compromised?

Tweens and teens can internalize the information in different ways:

(1) Become a copycat: Do as their role model has done. Even if Miley, in this case, is basically saying “do as I say not as I do,” many number one fans of Miley will follow her lead. You’ll hear children saying; “Mom, what’s the big deal? Miley is so cool/hot that whatever she does is awesome! ”

(2) Ban their idol: This is drastic. The tween who does this really feels betrayed. In this case, the role model becomes and “anti-role model” (a symbol of what NOT to do) and the tween really turns on the switch by saying “I never liked her anyway.” Or “I liked her when I was younger” or I liked her before she became like the rest of those Hollywood types—those pictures were gross…”

(3) Refuse to believe it: You might wonder how someone can do that when the pictures are right there—but it’s quite simple—they can just say she was forced, tricked, or pressured—or say that it’s been blown out of proportion and everyone’s just wrong. Children are resilient and they will do whatever they can to make it so they can believe what they want and go about their business.

How can parents express their views about these role models without alienating their kids who idolize them?

Shaping Youth » Stuffing the Story: Ignoring Media As A Coping Tactic

Go check out more from Shaping Youth, it’s worth a read and opinions of your own.

My mom always pitied (out loud in the car where we couldn’t escape) icons who made mistakes out loud in the car. Pitied, followed with “Now don’t you girls do anything like that”. And somehow both Momola and Popola managed to sneak in a bit of caution regarding how inappropriate choices/activities make us look, our parents look, and how they can affect our livelihoods as members of the community. And since there were no televisions or separate radio stations in the car, we usually listened to them banter about the news or about others in the community who had situations with their family that were less than desirable. For some reason that freaked me out– thinking that others might discuss a situation that embarrassed my family.

Occasionally they (ma & pa) might call the famous icon an “idiot” for their actions presented on talk radio (especially when my no-nonsense dad was in the car), but mum and da quickly followed it up with explanations and rational together, and I understood their sentiments and worries more than just power-trip-parents.

I remember my first “bowling” trip (aka Teepeeing someone’s house). I was in 8th grade, it was the end of the school year, and my gal pals decided to go tee pee the house of this kid “Matt”. I had known (and generally disliked) Matt since I was in preschool. We went to church together, had choir, confirmation, and junior high together. My parents knew his parents, so it was always one of those OBLIGED to be nice situations, but secretly irritated by his stupid boy coodies, and junior high “lame” nonsense.

It was quite a hike to his house, and when we got there it was dirty dusk– and only white shirts could be seen as haze as we darted about his house, throwing toilet paper rolls poorly. Then the minivan pulled in front of the house and he + 2 younger bros jumped out. Like chickens scattering, all 9 girls took off in separate directions screaming like banshees. I heard one of my friends get taken down directly behind me, but I kept sprinting. For a long time Matt with mike on my heels. I had a winter hat on, so I don’t know if he ever knew it was me, but MAN did I run. The entire time all I could think of was “If I get caught, i’m going to have to face his parents… and then mine.” And the worry for embarrassment was intense.

Eventually I lost Matt, hid in a rose bush, was chased in the dark by a black dog, nearly caught AGAIN as Matt’s family minivan slowly patrolled the neighborhood for more girly hoodlums, and finally reached my friend’s house two hours later. I was the only one to make it, everyone else was caught and brought back an hour after me by Matt’s parents. I hid in the bathroom until they left my friend’s parents house.

Whether or not Matt’s family ever knew it was me they didn’t catch, I dunno. But I’ll tell you– every time I saw Matt’s very kind mother, there was a certain something to the way she looked at me that made me embarrassed, worried, and sad. I am – to this day – convinced she knew, and she never said anything to my mom. But I can’t help but wonder if they talked about it in the car with pity and disappointment. After that, I steered clear of mean “bowling”– never opting to join in with cruel intentions for fear of THAT FEELING I got when I looked at Matt’s mom, or the thoughts I had as I was running away from Mike’s house.

Learning trips. Man, they do a number on you, right?

On a good note, I did continue “bowling” through my teens- but mainly with a youth group who teepeed their most BELOVED of mentors. The mentors knew about it, knew they were beloved, usually saw it coming, and always had garden hoses. Nothing sucks more than running away from a laughing mentor with a 1/2 used toilet paper roll as she sprays you with the hose only to get to your car to see her husband smiling as he was filling the interior with water from the second hose.

And as for “bowling” in college? Le sigh, the good ole days. I’ll save THOSE stories for another day of muppet madness and college insanity.

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  1. May 6, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    ‘Bowling,’ huh? We always called it ‘TPing’ but it was more a form of affection than disdain.

    Interesting how even TPing has dialed down demographically with ‘age compression’…10th grade was my own TP experience, 8th grade was yours, and 6th grade was when my daughter told me the PARENTS of one of her pals drove them to ‘do the deed’…so clearly there’s been a shift from malice to mischief.

    Ahem…the PARENTS? This is a telltale sign for a whole diff. blogpost! I draw the line on culpability. As I told her, “maybe the other parents want to be ‘friends’ in a retro kind of way, but count me out other than nostalgia…

    In other words, “I get that this is your team’s playful ‘gotcha,’ but if you guys aren’t old enough to drive away on your own you’ll have to escape on foot like the rest of us did” 😉

    btw, the pullquote you have from Shaping Youth above, is from our Shaping Youth Body Image Pro, Dr. Robyn Silverman. I’ll e-introduce the two of you, as she’s great. Here’s a link to her blog…take a peek! best, Amy

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