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Old 06-06-2013, 07:30 PM
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 43,144,896 times
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One term that keeps popping up in pop-psychology is the need for kids to have strong, positive role models as they grow up. There are some who still believe that if a son grows up without a father he'll become a sissy, and vice versa with a daughter without a mother. That is, without a same-sex 'role model'.

One thing you never hear about, interestingly, is opposite sex role models. It's as if we believe that people of the opposite sex cannot teach us or be examples for us to follow. How often do you hear a son say 'I want to follow in my mother's footsteps?' Obviously a mother teaches her child, especially in the early years, but there's still this belief that boys learn from their father's 'how to be a man' while girls learn from their mothers how to be ladylike. While this is natural and good, I think it's equally enriching if say a boy learns things from his mother, not necessarily cooking.etc (he could also learn cooking from his father).

Anyway, there's this idea that kids without role models will grow up all screwed up and without direction...especially say in the case of single parents. There are so many other factors with single parents anyway, that I don't think you can scientifically say that is the reason why their kids turn out the way they do. Plenty of kids raised by single mothers or fathers turn out fine. I think plenty of kids without 'good' role models, even if they have two parents, also turn out fine. I'm not saying role models aren't important, I just don't think they make or break a person as much as pop-psychology likes to believe. Of course terrible role models are probably the worst of all, and definitely worse than having no role models (aside from friends, what you see on TV, adult acquaintances.etc).

Old 06-06-2013, 10:16 PM
Location: Kansas City, MO
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Kids need positive, strong role models. There's no question about it. Who are they supposed to learn from and be socialized by if they don't have them? How is a woman supposed to teach a boy guy things or vice-versa? That's not to say there aren't folks who grow up fine despite a relative lack of good role models, but even then there must have been somebody they paid attenton to whose influence provided good direction. Personally I've learned a lot of "what not to do" and "how not to be" from many of the people in my life growing up and even still, but I also recognize who were and are my positive role models.
Old 06-08-2013, 05:26 PM
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,036 posts, read 7,059,971 times
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I think your post is right on the money OP. For example, my father was a good role model in some aspects. He worked had, paid his taxes, did his job, took responsibility for those who worked him, very responsible. However, he certainly had his shortcoming. Alcoholic, not very loving or caring, definitely showed favoritism with his children, not very positive or encouraging. But, I made up my mind you could learn from a bad example too, so I tried to do most things the opposite of my father. So yes, role models are helpful. But I also agree, that it is not just the role model aspect that makes a difference when raising children. A parent also supplies structure, rules, order, stability patience, kindness and love and all are also needed by children, no matter how successful or attractive or popular they are.
Old 06-08-2013, 06:10 PM
Location: Southwest Washington State
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In my experience as a parent of grown children, what I have observed is that the kids embarrassingly pick up on the bad stuff I've modeled for them unconsciously. Same for DH, IMO. Oh sure some the stuff we tried to be a good example on they picked up on, but there is an awful lot of stuff I wish they had never seen from me.

I don't know the answer to the OP's question, but I do know that having decent parents is a big help to children. The kids who have good role models, and who have others around them encouraging them, have a step up in life. They really do.
Old 06-08-2013, 06:32 PM
Location: SGV, CA
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Isn't it just an issue of semantics? I'm pretty sure most boys would acknowledge that their moms were a huge influence on their lives and most girls would acknowledge that their dads were a huge influence in their lives. People just don't refer to these relationships as 'role-models' because a son can never become the role of 'mother' and a daughter cannot take the role of 'father', at least in the traditional meaning of the word.
Old 06-08-2013, 07:54 PM
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The gender of the role models doesn't really matter. I'm female. Two of my uncles were people I considered to be role models. I didn't need anyone to teach me how to be female. I needed people in my life who modeled good behavior and were the kind of people I wanted to grow up to be. I had a lot of good people in my life growing up, but the people I latched onto as to who I wanted to model myself after in terms of character were men. Both of the uncles I strive to emulate are honest to a fault, reasonable, logical, generous, helpful and kind. And they manage to be that way without being priggish.

I believe when people go on and on about boys needing strong role models, it's mainly because our society stigmatizes femininity. Because a woman is feminine, what could she display in the way of traits that a boy should emulate? But being a good person is not gender specific, and learning to be a member of either sex is only something that is relevant in a society heavily married to its gender roles - I like to believe we're slowly drifting away from strict definitions in that sense in the US.
Old 06-11-2013, 06:24 PM
Location: OC, CA
9,862 posts, read 13,199,006 times
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No positive role models and mentors are what makes a person successful. The reason society has fallen apart is a lack of them.

Doubt me? I did social work with the products of abuse, neglect, and no role models so there is empirical evidence.

Let's take it on a lighter note. Why do you think some Americans simply gave the mortgage company the finger and said I am not paying. I am maxing my credit cards and defaulting. Because that's what the banks and the likes of AIG did. There are very few role models in a narcissistic society.
Old 06-15-2013, 08:02 PM
Location: Gettysburg, PA
1,565 posts, read 1,511,118 times
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Originally Posted by MOKAN View Post
Kids need positive, strong role models. There's no question about it. Who are they supposed to learn from and be socialized by if they don't have them? .
I agree. I also believe from my own experience that they do not have to be people in that person's life physically. They can be someone who had lived before (or even in the present time just not in the same physical location) and that person is discovering their life and learning from it; unfortunately, I get the impression that many children use celebrities as role models (I find it sad because most of them in my own opinion are not good role models).

I used this example of having a role model that is not physically present with a person because it is what happened in my own life. I learned from my mother and father, but they did not serve as my role models--I should say especially later in life. Perhaps they were my role models when I was younger, I don't quite remember now; though the title of the post did not specifically state we were talking about children.

Which brings me to another point. What do you on here feel about having role models all throughout life, not just as children? Of course we do not stop developing as a person once we've moved on from childhood. I actually feel it is just as important in later life to have such figures we look up to. Personally, it has helped me to live a very enriched and fulfilling life.

Originally Posted by MOKAN View Post
That's not to say there aren't folks who grow up fine despite a relative lack of good role models, but even then there must have been somebody they paid attenton to whose influence provided good direction.
Yes, and this can be from people who are not around them, whom they have discovered and learned about.

Originally Posted by MOKAN View Post
Personally I've learned a lot of "what not to do" and "how not to be" from many of the people in my life growing up and even still, but I also recognize who were and are my positive role models.
I personally feel my role models have taught me more positive attributes than the negative ones. They have certainly helped me to understand that the "moral decay" of society is something which has always been occuring and will continue to occur until the end of time (I have long been disturbed by a certain dissonance I have always felt between myself and the society I am a part of; these people have helped me to understand that people like me have been existing all along and there certainly has been no "mistake" made in how I am here when I am here).

Originally Posted by Colorado xxxxx View Post
No positive role models and mentors are what makes a person successful. The reason society has fallen apart is a lack of them.
I feel exactly as you do on this, though have no evidence to support it as you do. My heart is so heavy when I see children try to dress and act like the morally decrepit celebrities of today. What can these people possibly teach these children? That all the value in the world lies in money and good looks? Oh how the whole world seems to have fallen on its head, it is such a sad, sad place. I am so grateful there are still some children who are not raised in this belief, who do not look up to such people. Can it be that the reason it (the moral vacancy of children) seems so prevalent to me is for the discord which so glaringly presents itself in such a circumstance? It is my most fervent hope.
Old 06-16-2013, 12:54 PM
Location: Philadelphia, PA
2,378 posts, read 2,485,446 times
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Are we talking about fake role models or real ones? And real ones that we are with every day or famous people etc?

Real role models that we are with every day are important at any point in your life. Otherwise the rest I would say is a good cheap heuristic to have (in AI lingo). Meaning it's a good direction to move towards but it doesn't consider enough important variables.

As for same sex... as far as "dumb" role models go then same sex, but if you are intelligently perusing your role model then you want both.
Old 06-16-2013, 03:28 PM
Location: Northeastern US
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I've had many role models during my life, of both genders. Obviously my female role models have not taught me much about how to "be a man" in my culture, but they are still a rich source of things to emulate ... integrity, tenacity, assertiveness, endurance, love and so forth can just as easily be modeled by either gender.

I think one can find role models even when they are lacking in one's parents or immediate family. It's harder to find actual mentors, but role models abound. Really, it's a function of whether you see people succeed in life and want to grouse about how it's unfair or study how they achieved it so you can attempt it yourself. The key seems to be whether or not you see those achievements as something that Other People do or something that's possible for YOU to do. For example until I was around 15 or 16 I saw being self employed or an entrepreneur or businessperson as somehow the province of Other People. I saw one of my older brothers start a couple of successful businesses and suddenly it became (in between my ears) possible for me to do it too. If my brother had not done that I probably would have wanted it badly enough that I would have started looking outside my family for role models. It might have slowed me down some but as deeply grateful as I am to my brother for showing me the way, I still say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear -- so he was not the only one who could have served the purpose.
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