Thursday’s Thoughts : Who do your children most admire?

Michaela DePrince

Helena is now 8 years old and my husband and I are beginning to notice she’s looking further afield than her family for role models – she’s looking for someone to look up to, to inspire her. When she was younger she always looked up to either my husband and myself or to close family members, and just like all the parenting books say, ‘we need to practise what we preach’, I’d like to think we all did. We have shown her feelings like happiness (and sadness), consideration, self respect, patience, self-discipline, kindness, and encouragement. I’d also like to think we’ve shown her the appreciation of good food, the magic of travelling and exploring new places, the ability to make new friends and have an open mind to arts and culture. And I suppose we’ve naturally (instinctively) shown her who would make good friends and who we’d rather her not to hang out with.

But it wasn’t until I read an article about the incredible ballerina, Michaela dePrince, in an on-flight magazine recently that I started thinking about role models. In the article, Michaela explained she had always wanted to be an inspiration to young girls, and it reminded me that there are so many great role models for young children — people who will mould children and help them make healthy choices and achieve goals. Like Emma Watson, for instance, who is such a tremendously talented actress and well-read young women, or Jamie Oliver who has put the ‘bish, bash, bosh’ back into cooking, and Oliver Jeffers who creates the most wonderful illustrations.

It’s really had me thinking lately, and I’ve started asking friends who their children’s role models are.  Those with boys have confidently said sports people – Beckham and Federer amongst a few others. I asked my nephews and they said Epke Zonderland (who is a Dutch gymnast) and Paul van Loon (who is a Dutch writer). A few friends of Helena’s have said their class teacher and their Brownie leader which pleased me that it’s not just the media where children find their role models.

Perhaps to a point, we as parents are still influencing our children. I’d say I’m still giving Helena some guidance, for example I won’t allow her to watch MTV because there are so many negative role models out there too! I do see that her independence is increasing when she listens to her own choice of music, we encourage her to develop her sports abilities and talk of sports people who do strive in their field, we read books making a point to notice who the author is (and illustrator) and we continue to visit art galleries where’s shes now becoming more familiar with artists.

So who are your children’s role models? Are they in the media or part of their social circle? Do you encourage them to find positive ones? How do you feel about negative role models? I’d love to know your thoughts….please share.

Vanessa x

PS The image above is taken from the magazine with the article of Michaela DePrince


Comments (4)

March 3, 2016

Great post, thank you. It is a very relevant topic in our household at the moment, as I am trying so hard to give my children positive role models in light of so many negative ones! I also feel a strong need for role models in my life at this stage. We watched a short interview with Jane Goodall a few days ago, and she definitely came up very strongly as a positive role model for both myself and my children. They thought she was amazing! My children have been sharing with me about the poor behaviour of so many of the children at their schools, we then discussed how each and every one of us actually carries the responsibility of being a role model, particularly for those younger than ourselves. The choice then is whether we want to be a negative or positive influence in other people’s lives. xxxx

March 3, 2016

My son is too young to have a role model or really grasp this concept. If I asked him who he’d most like to be like, he’d probably say Curious George or something. 🙂 But looking back at my own childhood, I don’t remember having a role model until I was a preteen and then I admired the character Scarlett O’ Hara from Gone with the Wind. What’s funny is that she’s actually not likeable. As an adult, I think she’s conniving, ruthless and immature. But as a 12 year old, I was struck by her determination and strength in the face of much adversity. I think we look for our heroes based on what’s going on in our lives. I admired a girl who could and would do anything to survive because my own childhood was bumpy and it helped knowing that I had the agency to change my life myself.

Christopher Brown
March 4, 2016

Appreciate you writing on this topic. I might have touched on role models with my two but haven’t had the time or access to break down what role models are, who mine were and who my kids might view as there’s. Thanks for inspiring me to research this topic and have this conversation with mine. Single dad of two.

Nina Justin
March 8, 2016

It has been scientifically proven that children (especially at a slightly more impressionable age like between 11 and 16) do need role models. These are certainly not necessarily about role models for a future profession but for “achievements” and “talents”. I personally think it is a positive factor to be able to provide good examples (be it myself or a reference to someone else who is better at a certain area/task/sport etc).

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