When a Teen Idol Crashes and Burns

I’m sure every generation of parenting had it’s extreme challenges. With the hyper connectedness of media and social networks of today’s times, it seems like parent have got to be one their A-game like never before. The issue I’d like to bring up is subject of teen idols. Most kids have them, from TV actors, sports prodigies and most well known … the teen rockstar!

This kind of teen role model isn’t really a bad thing, everyone needs someone to look up to. However, as parents, we need to prepare our kids for the likely event of when a teen idol crashes and burns.

Case in point: Miley Cyrus. The lovable star of Hannah Montana of just a few years ago, who had the hearts of millions of pre-teen girls is no longer the teen idol you want influencing your pre-teen girls. This isn’t just a problem for teenage fans who fell in love with Miley years ago, but new fans are made everyday with old DVD’s and video on demand services. The pro-Christian message and strong morals Miley professed a few years ago has been replaced with strong messages of sexual promiscuity and drug use.

This flip-flop happened so fast, many parents still think as Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana as a great role model for their kids. So what happens when your child’s harmless teen idol goes off the deep end?

I actually don’t know the answer to that question, and I’m not sure the answer to that question is the issue. I think the real issue is helping your kids understand that actors, musicians, rockstars are people just like everyone else. We could add to that list. Friends, teachers, parents, coaches and pastors are no different. We can respect them and appreciate them, but we should probably be more intentional about out kids putting these people on “idol” status.

When our kids grow up recognizing that God is constant and deserves our ultimate respect and that people are imperfect, a person held in high regard’s fall from grace may impact your significantly less. Actually, the actions of a fallen-idol may be disconcerting for a child and help reinforce the values parents are investing in their child as opposed to causing the child to want to follow their actions and attitudes.

Regardless, the rise and fall of Miley Cyrus teaches us the danger of “teen idols” in the hearts of our kids. It’s far too risky to let a teenager who is “discovering themselves” to have that kind of influence on my children. Lastly, it reminds us that parents can’t be complacent. Parents need to keep up with the media our kids are ingesting at home and away from hom to ensure our kids have appropriate filters. We only get one shot and it will be over before we know it.

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Kenny Conley
Kenny Conley is the primary author of Childrens Ministry Online and the NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. In addition to creating the Illuminate Conference, a high quality kidmin conference designed specifically for volunteers, Kenny is a published author and speaker.