It is still somewhat difficult to imagine that a sportsman millions looked up to; a man who took the world by storm would be caught in such a strong, tactical and technical web of doping! It is my honest opinion that Lance Armstrong is a skillful cyclist to have won the first time; but for me, it is about the millions of hopes and aspirations dashed by this experience for the young ones.
There is something in human nature that longs for heroes and saviors. We endlessly seek people to look up to, be inspired by. Whether in the family, politics, sports, business, or religion, time after time we put people on pedestals and look up to them and expect more of them than is sometimes justifiable.
“Kids often confuse celebrity with heroism,” says family counselor Sherri Young. This is true! Being prosperous in a profession or the ability to play football, sing well or run fast doesn’t necessarily make someone a hero, but young children and teenagers don’t see that. They see success and fame and they think to themselves….”I want that too!”
And when those heroes fall, it can be disappointing to kids.
It is perfectly OK for kids to admire affluence and successful athletes but schools and parents should strive to keep that admiration from reaching the level of worship. One way to do that is to give your children other people — people your school and household approve of — to admire.
The first thing to do is for parents especially to be exemplary role models to their kids. Studies have shown that kids look up to their parents and parents need to keep this in mind. The ‘weak’ rule of ‘do as I say not as I do’ will never hold water with children. They become what they see from you. Parents also should take the opportunity to point out other positive role models to their children.
If you want to know what your child thinks, ask who they admire and what they think makes someone a hero. Explain that many people have admirable qualities, but if you look hard, you can find something not to like in everybody. Soon enough, you will find out what type of value system your child has imbibed or is imbibing.
I think that any time your child hears of a disappointing news about their hero; that it is then a good time to tell them your honest opinion. Whether it’s an issue of breaking the law as we see in every ‘driving minute’ of our daily lives in Lagos or just about values, it immediately begs of a good chance to talk to your child about what you believe and why. Is it OK to use performance-enhancing drugs? Why not? Should you have premarital sex? What are the consequences? Should the social media dictate your image and style? What should then be your guiding light?
These are invaluable teachable times.