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Who’s Influencing Kids These Days?


After Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, many of us were left scratching our heads wondering where have our children’s role models gone?

Looking back through a timeline of photos, videos, social media platforms, and previous performances, were you really surprised by the former Disney star’s less than exemplary behavior?

Truth be told, I wasn’t surprised at all. Miley isn’t the first to give us something shock worthy on TV to talk about and certainly won’t be the last.  But even more shocking to me than the over-sexualized, nearly naked, bump and grind on stage, was the quick shot of Miley’s mom giving her a standing ovation after her performance.

Having been in the spotlight as a young performer, I was often asked who my role models and idols were. My answer was never a celebrity and always stayed the same: my mom and dad.

Yes, there were entertainers, singers, actors, athletes, and musicians I admired. But my Mom and Dad had the most influence on my decisions and were who I modeled my life after. My parents poured their love into me through teaching, training, encouragement--and most importantly through rules and boundaries. .

Not only did my parents speak to me in truth, but they modeled their words with their actions, applying the same love and discipline in their own lives as they did regarding my career choices.

This doesn’t mean I never made bad choices or went against what I had been taught. Sure I did. But my parents’ boundaries taught me that I had the ability to say no if it wasn’t in my best interest. So, when I was of legal age, choosing otherwise hurt my conscience because I knew better.

So who are your kids watching the most?  You might convince yourself its a popular boy band, a movie actress, a country singer, or a gold-medal athlete—but don’t be naïve. Kids may seem to follow their favorite celebrities every move, but the one they’re seeing up close and personal is you.

Whether you are an aunt, uncle, grandparent, sister, brother, friend, or teacher, remember that you may be the greatest role model in their lives. Kids are waiting for your approval, your warnings, your reactions,  your guidance, and watching whether you do as you say. You have more influence than any untouchable and unattainable celebrity seen on a screen or heard through a speaker.

Celebrity role models are fun to have, but it’s your job as a parent or mentor to discuss role models with your children and help guide them toward a good choice. Below are 4 key talking points to discussing celebrity behavior with our children who may be influenced by them.

  1. Listen. Be open for discussion, not just criticism. Ask your kids why they like a particular celebrity and what attracts them to be a devoted fan. Be conversational so they know they’ve been heard before you share your opinion and direction.

  1. Help your child understand that many young entertainers are guided by a team of people whose ultimate goal is to make money. Young celebrities can just as easily be manipulated and given an image to sell even with good intentions. Listening to or watching interviews of that celebrity may give your child a better understanding of their personal worldviews and their character.

  1. Discuss the content. Explain how the song lyrics we listen to and the images we watch affects our minds. Encourage them to be aware of what they’re really feeding their body. Is it truth or a lie? Uplifting or derogatory? Repetition will create habits. What habits do they think they’re forming based on their role model choice?

  1. Talk about self worth and value. From whom and where does it come from? Who sets that standard? Your parents, peers, friends, the media, or God? How does the way you dress, talk, and act reflect your beauty on the inside and outside?

Just as Miley watched her mom give her a round of applause for all the world to see, kids who look up to you are watching your actions.  Are you willing to step up and take on the responsibility?