This week, Reese Witherspoon got arrested. A few weeks ago, Justin Bieber wrote some questionable things about Anne Frank in the Holocaust Memorial guest book. A few weeks before that Lindsay Lohan was late for court, again. When these stories emerge, there’s typically an outcry from the public calling the celebrity a bad role model and a response from celebrity saying, “I never asked to be a role model!” And I get it. Your job is to act or sing, not to raise the children of the world. However, you chose a career that came with a giant spotlight and even if you didn’t ask to be there, kids are going to put you up on a pedestal. Unless you give it all up and start a new quiet life on a deserted island, every move you make is going to come under heavy scrutiny. It comes with the territory.
With that being said, I could never handle being a celebrity. The pressure of having to be “on” all the time and having the futures of a billion kids in my hands would be too much. I have a “Little Sister” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and that alone can be nerve-wracking. Here are ten reasons why being a role model makes me nervous…
1. Pop Music Is Filthy
My Little Sister and I were rocking out in the car yesterday and all of a sudden I realized I was singing, “your sex takes me to paradise,” alongside a 12-year-old. It was completely inappropriate. So I casually struck up a conversation and switched the station to Taylor Swift. Then, Rihanna’s “S&M” came on. There’s no use. Pop music is filthy.
2. Accidental Swearage
I try to keep my potty mouth clean around the youngin’. However, when some [expletive] on the [expletive] highway is about to cross into my [expletive] lane, it can be challenging not to scream expletives. I’ve let one or two slip, but let’s be honest it’s nothing she hasn’t already heard.
3. Social Networking
My Twitter and Instagram accounts are public and I am in my 20s. I’m legally allowed to go out to a bar and have a few drinks with friends. Yet, I feel like if I post a picture of myself out at a bar having a few drinks with friends, it will glamorize alcohol and encourage youths to raid their parents liquor cabinet. I know this isn’t how it works. Kids aren’t parrots built to mimic your every move, but I just don’t want anything I do or say or post to ever encourage a kid’s poor life choices.
4. Snack Selection & Body Image
When I was in high school, I ate like a Gilmore Girl. Unfortunately, my metabolism has changed and I can no longer shovel down cookie dough and ice-cream the way I used to. This becomes an issue when selecting snacks with kiddo. I don’t want to force body image issues on her, but I also know I shouldn’t be eating Hot Cheetos and Takis like a tween. There’s such a fine line between encouraging healthy eating habits and inducing eating disorders. I’m terrified of crossing it. I usually just eat the Cheetos and balance them out with a salad later, she’s a kid, she has the rest of her life to worry about calorie content.
5. Forcing My Opinions Onto Her
When I was in high school, I begged my parents to let me go to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life. All my friends were going and I didn’t want to miss out, but my parents said no. They didn’t think I was mature enough to have a concrete opinion on such a complex subject. They didn’t judge me or try to force their views on me, but allowed me the time to grow up and learn for myself. I’m so grateful they did. This is how I try handle tricky topics with the Little, but if asked about something I feel passionately about, sometimes it’s hard not to persuade towards what I feel is right. It’s another fine line.
6. Stepping On Parental Toes
I never know how educated kids are in terms of sex, drugs and alcohol. If asked a question, I want to answer it honestly, but I also don’t want to give more information than their parents are comfortable with them having. It’s so hard to know what’s fair game and what’s not. I’m just waiting for the day I say something I shouldn’t to a kid and create drama at home.
7. Not Knowing All The Answers
When you’re a kid, you just expect grownups to know things. I took my Little to a science museum and it was so embarrassing. She had so many intelligent questions about animals and astronomy and it pained me that I didn’t have any answers.
8. Feminism Is Confusing, Yo.
It’s so hard to tell if I’m living up to my responsibilities as a feminist role model, because everyone defines feminism a little differently. If I compliment her on her hair, I try to balance it out with a compliment on her grades. If we spend an afternoon doing makeovers, I try to spend our next afternoon doing something educational or athletic. I make a conscious effort to encourage self-esteem outside of gender stereotypes, but I never know if I’m setting the movement back 20 years by baking cupcakes with a 12-year-old.
9. Having To Rat Them Out
You know how every ’90s sitcom had an episode in which a kid confessed something to an adult and asked them not to tell anyone? The adult then told someone and the kid got really upset? That’s the situation of which I’m most fearful. I think on the sitcoms it usually ended with a hug, though. So it hopefully won’t be that bad.
10. Remembering What It’s Like To Be Their Age
I remember being a teenager and hating it when adults would discredit my thoughts and feelings as hormones. Yes, I was super hormonal and dramatic as a teen, but my feelings were real and I wanted people to acknowledge them as such. Sometimes, when a kid is venting about how hard their life is, it’s hard to remember what it was like to be their age and have those larger-than-life feelings you can’t contain. I just pray I never make a kid feel like their feelings aren’t valid or don’t matter, even if they’re difficult to relate to as an adult.
This is not a sponsored article, but I cannot stress how much I’ve enjoyed being a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s an amazing program and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in mentoring or volunteering with kids!
Featured image is from The Mindy Project which I found here.