Recently, I was in the company of some of my mom’s friends, discussing athletes’ behavior and how it affects children. All of us in the group have children ranging in ages eight to twenty-six years old, so the conversation took a few twists and turns. It was obvious that older kids are more impacted by a negative action and resulted consequences since they understand what is happening and don’t require as much explanation. Little ones, not as likely, and it is up to the parent how much information they want to share, given the maturity level of the child.

At the forefront of our conversation was the American football player, who has been boycotting the tradition of standing up during the National Anthem, as a way to show support for fellow African Americans, specifically on the topic of police brutality. One of the moms had asked the group how we felt about his stance and if we thought it would make a difference. I have to say that the answers didn’t surprise me. We all understood why he was doing it, we all support #BlackLivesMatter, but few question if the player’s protest would otherwise draw more criticism rather than support to an already difficult situation. Someone related it to giving a child a punishment that didn’t relate with an incorrect behavior. As parents, how often have we done that?

Yet, all the moms in that room agree that there is much to be done to stop these tragic behaviors and that as mothers, we should all join #WeWontWait movement spearheaded by @momsraising.org and @mamásconpoder.com.

The conversation continued on to the mistakes and bad choices athletes also can make when in the spotlight.

“What about the gold medal swimmer?” one of the moms asked. “My son was crushed. At 10, all he could hear was the negative publicity his idol was receiving!” 

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“Perhaps there lays the problem,” another mom answered. “We allow these athletes to become idols and forget that they are humans like the rest of us.” 

I asked my teen friends Elisha and her sister Elyssa from @WhollyArt.com to weigh in. Below is what they shared:

Elisha, 14,“I think that even though it is shocking and upsetting when an athlete makes a mistake, it is actually an opportunity teach kids that no matter who we are, we still need to face the consequences of our choices, and that we all make mistakes. Athletes, celebrities, and other media personalities, have problems in their own lives. I don’t think we are in a place to judge them, but I agree with feeling compassion, love, and learning from their triumphs and mistakes, instead of criticizing.”

Elyssa, 13, “I believe that the media tends to judge celebrities harshly, and that even though a mistake is a mistake, celebrities are human, too. Everyone messes up, whether publicly or not. Why should we make a big deal about it any more than we would if a friend or family member did it? Celebrities, athletes, and any other public figures that make mistakes publicly can also be a lesson to us that we’re all imperfect.”

Wise words from two very wise young ladies, I must say.

In summary, here are five things we can teach our kids about their favorite athlete or celebrity:

-They are people like you and me.

-They have a story.

-As it relates to what you hear, media or otherwise, there is always two sides to one story.

-Better to not idolize but to appreciate, to not judge but to show compassion.

-Take a stand, be an advocate, but make sure it supports your beliefs.

Bai Bai,

Maritere

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