I remember growing up idolizing prominent figures: baseball player (and former IronPigs Manager) Ryne Sandberg , Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, and the likes. I was enamored by their abilities, their passion, and their determination to be the best at what they did – they were Super Gods! They were untouchable, invincible, and everything I dreamed of being one day.
In retrospect, through my present adult eyes, I now realize that there are positive and negative elements of your role model selections in your youth. You take a gamble with your selection because there is no way to truly know these individuals on a “to the core” basis. Some will have a fall from grace and with that crashing fall comes a certain confusion in a young mind. Children don’t know how to process what happens in a scandal of epic proportions. Yet, some of the role models of my youth did continue to lead productive, positive journeys through their careers and some of them I still hold in high regard to this day. Another aspect I think we lose sight of when acquiring role models is the lack of a reciprocal relationship. You place so much pride, investment, and trust in someone who doesn’t even know you exist.
There was one role model, however, that sticks out in my mind as soaring above the rest. I truly admired and looked up to this individual starting at very young age. And, honestly, I might not have realized it at the time, but my biggest role model was - my Father. He didn’t have all the “bling”, the fancy cars, the loud flamboyant demeanor of superstar role model but he did possess one trait that was parallel to the idols mentioned above - he was passionate about what he did. He wanted to be the best he could possibly be and continues to strive to be the best. I admire him for that. But there was one other thing he did that the others didn’t and really made him special in my eyes, and I believe this is what makes a true role model. He invested his time into me and our family.
What is my one word of advice to all the adults out there who want to be their child’s superstar role model? Invest your time! Investing time is the key to making our children look up to us as role models. Granted our role as parents is very complex, twisted, multifaceted, but the one as a role model cannot be overlooked. As my father did with me, we need to fully invest our quality time and energy back into our children because, at its essence, our actions and our love will transcend into the person they grow up to be.
When investing this bonding time with our children, it is not just showing up at an event or listening to them with half an ear. We need to put them first and truly get to know them which, in turn, will allow them to really get to know us on a different level. To do this we can communicate with them on their level, allow them to see what we do at work, have them engage in activities we are passionate about, be optimistic, and take the time to answer their questions. This investment you make with them, showing them how you work mentally, physically, spiritually and even emotionally, will go a long way in developing their character, confidence, and personal drive. Time investment will show them how to become successful individuals just like ourselves. These bonding moments will also allow them to see that perhaps you are not perfect and that it is okay. Witnessing our failures and missteps will show them how to overcome adversity and how to adjust their goals in order to succeed. The time investment is priceless and invaluable as they continue their journey of life.
When we invest this time back into our children’s lives they will invest with you. As we make the investment we need to make sure we lead by example and instill in them the confidence to stay true to their moral compass. We need to show them how to become strong and love themselves for who they are. I strongly believe that our children do look up to us but it won’t be until later that they will really admit it. We need to set the precedent for our young minds of the future, as we set the bar high for them, and lead them to success.
I challenge all of the parents out there to play an even bigger role in their child’s life, regardless of age, and to make a positive impact on their child’s life. We must remember that kids will then emulate everything that we do. We must be cautious in our mannerisms, tendencies, tones, sternness and approach of a balanced life. We must set great examples to make great individuals. Let’s go out there and help our little futures become the greatest individuals by investing the time that will allow your relationship to flourish into far beyond the reaches of “parent” and into the realm of Gods. Be their role model and you never know, they may put a poster of you on their wall one day!
Kenrick Smith - Be a part of the K17Sport Lifestyle.
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