With the explosion of the media in the last 20 years, children are attracted to celebrities, and quick to role model them.
Retailers make millions on clothing and multiple items featuring famous names and faces. Add in animated movies and TV shows and there are even more characters to attract our youngsters.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, parents need to be careful about the values and principals that these celebrities openly display.
A family activity centered on finding appropriate role models will give parents an opportunity to discuss what they value and life choices they make.
Challenge your child to find a person whom they admire, and they must say why. Do not limit the search to modern times; a historical search will bring great personalities from the past into the child’s awareness.
Children will be happy to get on the internet and start hunting. If they need suggestions to get started, here are just a few.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was a scientist who invented many things we still use today. He made the first telescope, and discovered gravity, inertia and made significant discoveries in astronomy.
Yet when he supported the theory that the sun was the center of the universe, a belief that was not supported by anyone at the time, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the religious leaders of the time.
Moses was adopted into a royal household in Egypt as an infant. He was educated and as an adult became aware of his heritage and that his people were actually slaves in Egypt.
When he personally witnessed the abuse the Hebrews suffered at the hands of the Egyptians, he chose to walk away from his pampered lifestyle and help his people escape by leading them across the Red Sea and then on a long journey through the desert.
As the child of slaves in 1790’s, Sojouner Truth (1797 to 1893) was never taught to read and write, yet she became aware of the Constitution of the United States and realized that slavery was not protected by that document.
After bearing 5 children, several of whom were sold into slavery, she escaped to New York where emancipation had been enacted and lived with a Quaker family.
It was at that time she took the name Sojouner Truth (she had previously been called Isabella). Then she began touring the country speaking out against slavery and later in life, woman’s suffrage issues. (Right to vote and have equality with men).
Helen Keller (1880 to 1968) was born with sight and hearing, but at 19 months old contracted a serious illness, some say either scarlet fever or meningitis, which left her blind and deaf. Her isolation from her family was profound.
She could not speak or communicate. When she met Anne Sullivan, a special teacher who taught her sign language, she blossomed. She earned a college degree, and became an author and well traveled advocate for people with handicaps.
Malala Yousafzai is a modern day heroine. This young Pakistani school girl defied threats from the terrorist organization, Taliban.
When she was just 14 years old, they shot her in the head. She amazed the world and survived and when recovered became an outspoken advocate for human rights, woman’s rights and the right to education.
Jane Goodall spent her life studying chimpanzee social structure and family life. Her method was contrary to scientific norms of the time, and became the new way of studying primates. She is now considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees.
There are thousands and thousands of individuals who have contributed to the world in so many different ways.
Helping your children get to know people who have had the courage to stand up for human rights, animal rights, social justice, the handicapped and new scientific discoveries just to mention a few accomplishments, and become leaders, will allow them to move beyond pretty faces, clothes and music and strive to make a difference in the world.