How do you handle the culture of celebrity with your kids ?

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

“I’d like to win X Factor”,  “I’d like to marry a footballer” “I’d like to win the lottery” are goals I hear a great deal when I’m going into schools running my Confidence Classes for Kids Workshop as I do an exercise at the end of the day around setting goals, raising aspirations and making dreams come true.

I also meet a lot of kids who want to run their own business or want to run a marathon or be a lawyer.But where do these dreams start, when do they turn into goals with a date and when do we say to kids “Don’t be silly”

I also meet a lot of kids who “Just want to be famous” – but what does that mean and WHY do they want to be famous?

Famous for just taking their top off ?

Famous for inventing a cure for Alzheimer’s or Cancer?

Famous for making a difference in the world and leaving it a better place?

Or are they really only hungry for significance and want to feel noticed and heard or perhaps they have no idea that success comes in many ways and means different things to different people and that one size doesn’t fit all – unlike the socks in Primark!

I read the blurb on the back of David Walliams new book on Saturday in WH Smiths (published before the Savile scandal broke)  who wrote, as a 10-year-old, to the Jim’ll Fix It

“Dear Jim’ll, Please can you fix it for me to meet Brian Blessed, who plays the King Vultan in Flash Gordon? And please can you fix it for me to be a Hawkman  for the day?

Basically, I just really want to be on TV.

Yours sincerely, David.”

There’s nothing wrong with having BIG DREAMS  or wanting to be on TV – I have them – and I set myself the goal of sitting on the “This Morning” sofa with Holly and Scofe  as I wanted to reach millions of parents with my passion for giving kids the gift of self esteem  and helping make family life positive and happy and being on the telly helps me do that  – and I taken small steps every day, every week, every month and every year towards achieving that goal of making a big difference.

But what worries me is that kids aspire to be stick thin like Cheryl Cole or a clothes horse like Tulisa, &  they think that success can only be won quickly and easily  by winning the X factor or winning Britain’s Got Talent or by marrying a famous  footballer and not won through hard work and dedication and by doing something meaningful.

Just why people submit themselves to the jeering and sneering on Britain’s Got Talent for 15 minutes of fame I’ll never understand.

This sort of programme laughs at and not with its participants and encourages the audience to ridicule, jeer and belittle the contestants showing them no respect or any dignity.

Just why people want to have their 15 minutes of “fame” regardless of the cost to their own personal self esteem is to me rather strange and beyond my comprehension.

Kids who chase FAME also want to the lifestyle of fast cars, adulation and dream homes in exotic locations but don’t understand that they could have a lovely home and a lovely car and go on lovely holidays if they worked hard, saved up and set some proper goals for themselves.

For a writer like me that’s published by  Random House, one of the  largest publishing houses in the world, I have to admit that I too felt a real pang of real jealousy that Pippa Middleton got a £400,000 advance on her book just because she happens to be the sister Kate Middleton and now warrants celebrity status.

I wrote an article on my blog awhile ago called “Being A Hero To Your Kids” as kids look up to their parents first as their first important role models.

I think we as parents need to TALK & TEACH our kids about our values and about the importance of hard work, tenacity and meaningful work that they choose to enjoy and we need to teach them about successes –  as well as failures –  and how we overcome challenges and adversity  and if we don’t then we are doing them a great dis- service and they will pick up their life lessons from the media where being famous seems to be what it’s all about.

People idolise all sorts of people from footballers, athletes, film stars to business dragons and I actually think that it matters who you choose to be your hero because it says a lot about you.

After all our heroes and heroines are the figures and people we wish to become or wish to emulate.

These are the people we secretly admire in our quiet moments of pondering and daydreaming.

They represent unlimited possibilities and provide us with something extraordinary  to aim for and to dream about and offer us something to admire, or  they offer us living proof that a big achievement can be reached if they can do it…..but just being famous for the sake of being famous seems to me to be somewhat vacuous

Here’s an acronym for HEROES that I’d like kids to ponder

H is for honourable – the ability to stick to a self imposed moral code – a code that commits them to do the right thing regardless of personal sacrifice.

E is for extraordinary. Heroes aren’t afraid to stand out. In fact they stand up for what’s right when others keep quiet, they work longer, harder or are more focused than others, or they wear red nail varnish and have two toned hair as they are not frightened to be themselves and commit to making the world a better place.

R is for relentless. Being a superhero takes dedication. Heroes are constantly training, constantly striving to improve, to be the best they can be or learn new things.

O is for outspoken. Being heroic is about speaking up for what you believe in and not just going with the flow when you know the flow is flowing in the wrong direction.

I is for inspirational. Heroes do more than simply turn up. They lead, they believe in others and they see the best in others and they inspire them so that others can believe and achieve for themselves.

C is for courageous. Heroes have the courage to keep going when others would have fallen by the wayside long ago, they have courage to smile when it’s seems the darkest, they are different and they are brave for having a go and overcoming fear and they triumph eventually over tough times

Of course lots of famous people are doing great things by contributing back their expertise, or their time, or their money to making a difference – people like Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, or  Didier Drogba  but to a certain group of kids weaned on The Only Way is Essex are they listening?

So my point as a Parent Coach is:

How are we going to talk & teach kids about this obsession around the culture of fame and help them understand that there’s more to life than being recognised in Sainsbury’s?

 

 

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