Parenting Generation Famous
A generation ago, some parents tried to counsel against a misconstrued notion: that the pursuit of money above all else would prove dissatisfying. That chasing dollars alone was a quick way to have a dissatisfying career. Rather, identifying and honing their skills will both satisfy and lead to a successful career.
Today, such a debate seems silly. Why? A look at one study quickly reveals the answer:
When asked what they want to be when they grow up, a startling 54% of 16-year-olds had a puzzling response: a celebrity.
Just 20 years ago, such a response would have surely been incomplete. “Well what will be the profession that makes you famous?” would surely be the follow up question. Not anymore. No longer are Oscar-worthy acting skills or Grammy-worthy singing voice required as a stepping stone to fame. Today, social media and reality TV have bred another type of fame, one that the world’s teenagers are apparently hungrier for than any other profession:fame for fame’s sake.
When pressed for details, 68% didn’t know how they’d become famous, while 21% could take to reality TV and 5% would find a shortcut through dating a star.
Rather than palm our foreheads in dismay, it’s time we did something about it. Here are three steps we can all take today.
Redefine fame as excellence.
Encourage your child’s desire to have a quality that is celebrated. Just steer that into skill, not attention. Help your child discover their hidden talents, then help them hone them. Any time your child talks about their pursuit of fame, ask instead about their pursuit of excellence.
Highlight the realities of fame.
Much of kids’ obsession with fame has to do with a misconstrued notion of it. We compare our “behind the scenes” footage with their highlight reels. We watch A-listers fly private, spend freely, and work rarely. The reality of reality TV is very different. Moments after Bow Wow posted an image of his alleged private jet to Instagram, he was unfortunately spotted. Flying Southwest Airlines. That image? It was pulled from Google. Share stories like these with your kids to balance their misconstrued notions of the good life.
Celebrate true success.
No matter how many likes or shares your child attracts—or doesn’t—there’s another form of feedback that your teen is taking in. They just might not admit it. Your approval and interest in more valuable to your teen than they’ll let on. As such, apply your accolades wisely. The Instagram post that got 1000 likes? Pass the rolls, please. But the science project that attracted the interest of the judges, or the gesture of selfless kindness they showed a fellow student? Get out the special red plate and get ready to celebrate.