My eldest daughter, Molly, has to compose several essays choosing from a variety of topics provided by her teacher. She has already tackled GMO (“genetically modified organisms”), discussing its prevalence in our everyday consumption of meats, fruits, vegetables and fish. Now, she is tackling the subject of the influence of celebrities on young people in our society.
Pretty heavy stuff for a thirteen year old. When I was thirteen, I was writing essays on “plate tectonics” and “the Metis Party”.
While the first draft of her essay was in serious need of some grammatical tweaking and sentence structure improvement, I was very happy to see that the opinions she has on this topic are “right on the money”.
Molly voices disgust in the behavior of young celebrities and how easily kids her age are influenced by what these celebrities do and how they behave. People like Lindsay Lohan and even the squeaky-clean Justin Bieber have to be very careful in the way they handle themselves because of the electronic media and its ability to aggressively seek images of celebrities doing bad things that they don’t want people to see and sell them quickly for a lot of money to be posted on websites, blogs and in magazines.
She also expresses her disdain for young female celebrities who have a distorted view of what is deemed as an acceptable body weight and self-image. She writes that these young women are far too skinny and are not taking good care of themselves and that being too skinny is not healthy.
She finished off the essay by saying that these celebrities have a responsibility to their young fans. Since kids of Molly’s age begin forming their own opinions and values based on a combination of what they have been taught by their families (parents), their friends and other outside influences, it seems that once they hit their early teens that “outside influences” are more influential in their lives then their own parents. As a result, the onus must fall on these young celebs to act in a responsible way because millions of impressionable eyes are watching them and looking to them for direction.
I applaud Molly because I firmly believe that she has her “shit” together. Will Molly be exposed to drugs, alcohol and tobacco during the next few years of her teenage years? Yes. Will she be pursued by young male suitors? Absolutely (she is gorgeous, tall and stunning).
Molly’s ability to formulate clear and decisive opinions on some of these issues now will determine, to a certain extent, how she will handle these experiences as she moves through her teenage years.
While I have no doubt that she might have the occasional hiccup along the way (hell, didn’t we all make mistakes along the way?), I am quite certain that the concoction of communication, love, patience and a small dose of freedom that my wife and I will continue to supply to her, will allow her to successfully steer through the next few years.
I reach out to all of those moms and dads reading this blog who are parents of boys or girls that are in their early teens, to share some of their concerns and worries about the next few years. I would love to hear from you.