A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. He or she may be a person who an individual knows in a very personal way or could be the way young fans will idolize and imitate professional athletes or entertainment artists. Many times the person chosen as a role model will have a considerable impact on the career and opportunities as well as the choices an individual will make at a later time. “Sports is a metaphor for overcoming obstacles and achieving against great odds. Athletes, in times of difficulty, can be important role models” the very famous basketball player Bill Bradley became a very positive role model to many young as well as older individuals. He did this not only because of what he accomplished as an athlete, but because of who he was as an individual. Other sports figures in some cases may have been great football players or golfers, yet did serve as poor examples to be modeled after. It is very important that parents and other caretakers are aware of who a young individual selects as their role model.
When the term is brought up most times it is in a positive way, however a role model could be a negative role model as well. Negative role models may have an influence on individuals most of all children. Sometimes widely admired public figures can make poor personal choices. Young children may assume that the behaviors of negative role models are typical, safe and acceptable. Parents and caregivers can intervene by emphasizing that role model who embraces inappropriate behavior, violence, sexuality, race and gender stereotypes, and drug and alcohol abuse are not acceptable.
When one is placed in the position of becoming a role model by chance or on purpose the role model should be aware of the responsibility that he/she is taking upon themselves. It is a huge responsibility. An individual who decides to take this responsibility on his or herself should ask themselves what kind of person do you desire the individual or individuals to model you as.
It is most important that the role model informs the person who is using him/her as their model that no one is perfect. Let them know that the model does make mistakes, however mistakes are opportunities for learning. After my formal retirement I taught in high schools for many years and found that one of the most important information that I could get across to my students was that when ask a question or perhaps when giving out information to my class just because I was their teacher, older and had a degree or two did not mean that I was always correct. I informed them that I would be honest in what I put before them, allowing them to think about what was said so they could form their own conclusions. This worked out very well.
A very wonderful thing is that anyone can be a role model to someone even if it’s for a short period of time. A teacher may have a brief conversation with a student or leave an impression on the class by being who he or she is not knowing that they have acted as a role model yet very much influencing a young mind. A parent may send a message to a child simply by showing love and compassion for another. We all are role models in a positive or negative way. We are all being watched so why not give another a step up even if at the time you don’t know you are doing so.