I’m sick and tired of being disappointed.
Is this what passes for leadership these days? Is it a requirement to be insane, disrespectful, or a criminal in order to be revered by millions?
Former House Speaker Salvatore DiMassi. Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Khan. Former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer. Former movie and sitcom mega star Charlie Sheen. Former super athlete Tiger Woods. Former Investment Manager Bernie Madoff. Suspended Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. Former College & Pro Basketball coach Rick Pitino. Former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips. Former Mr. Universe, movie star, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Update: Let’s add Kim Kardashian to this list, a role model to millions of young girls who basically laughed in the face of the sanctity of marriage by filing for divorce only 72 days after her much publicized wedding.)
Just to name a few.
Athletes are no longer safe as role models, coaches are no longer safe as role models, successful business professionals are no longer safe as role models, and politicians surely are no longer safe as role models. Not only have these people become unfit to be role models, they are criminals and adulterers.
People in power, people with money, people of fame, and people with whom many others depend upon have time and time again shown an inability to handle their responsibilities with honor, trust, and accountability.
The biggest issue with any of this, for me, is trust.
Young people put their trust in coaches, investors and business professionals put their trust (and livelihood) in the hands of corporate decision makers, and all of us put our trust in the athletes and entertainers we turn to for relief from this crazy world.
The easy way to respond to all of this is – “They all have failed us, I’m out.” But as with anything in life, things are never that black and white, but typically some shade of gray. I still hold out hope that the likes of Dustin Pedroia and Drew Brees are stand-up individuals first, professional athletes second, of which whom I can point out to my sons and say, “These guys do it right.”
The problem is that the actions of many have ruined it for everyone. In days past, that line used to go, “The actions of a few have ruined it for the majority.” No longer. Sub par performances are now par for the course, and the result is that in my court, you are now all guilty until proven innocent.
So where should we turn for role models you might ask? The same place we did when we were 5 years old – our parents (grandparents and legal guardians).
I feign no innocence that this group doesn’t have their bad seeds as well. I only need to mention the painful image of a pair of children’s Lightning McQueen sneakers to my friends in Massachusetts to drive home that point. Not familiar with that story? Good. Go hug your children and don’t worry about it.
End of the day, if we can’t trust our parents, then I say bring on the rapture.
My mom always told me that all she does is sacrifice for her children, and I never truly understood that until I had some of my own. Parents give their all for their children. Parenting is hard work. I work hard, my wife works hard, and nearly every single parent that I know works extremely hard at bringing their children financial stability, a roof over their heads, and education in the ways of respect, accountability, and pride.
There is no doubt that parenting is rewarding, but the result is that I’m tired 24/7, sacrifice the majority of my free time for them, and hand over most of my income all in the name of parenthood. What are our current “role models” sacrificing for you?
Self respect is about the only thing I can think of.
But am I really one to judge? Sure, sometimes I have the desire to shirk all responsibilities and party as if I don’t have care in the world like the Paris Hilton’s and Lindsay Lohan’s of the world, but I don’t. Sure, I question whether or not I would be tempted to accept a large envelope of unmarked bills in exchange for business favors, but deep down I know I wouldn’t. And surely, sometimes I wonder what I would do if the Women’s Swiss Bikini Team ever invited me to their log cabin for the weekend, but I don’t even need to soul search to find the answer to that one.
My wife and my children are my world, and I would never do anything to compromise that.
For those reasons, I am a role model. You are a role model. We are today’s real role models.
Kids, let’s cut to the chase. Odds are that Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, Lebron James, and Adrian Peterson are going to let you down. It’s time to reprogram your brains and focus on those role models truly worthy of your adoration.
‘Brad the Dad’ is a parent columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter: @readbradthedad
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 5/28/11.