Youth in Need of Role Models: Who Can You Suggest?

Don’t Buy the Cookies” is Jane Chastain’s column complaining about the hijacked values in Girl Scouts. She argues that an increasingly politically correct/left-wing agenda in their governing board has led to official endorsement of role models such as Eve Ensler, author of the Va*** Monologues (no, Va*** doesn’t stand for Virginia). I still love Girl Scout cookies and recently bought some, in spite of my principled concerns about child labor (a concern for numerous fund-raising events: pity all those poor exploited children forced to go door-to-door, earning nothing as they rake in the bucks for the Big Fund-Raising Industry and, in the case of Girl Scouts, the Big Cookie Industry). My moral objections and principles concerns, of course, are outweighed by my desire to “help the kids,” expressed primarily through consuming large quantities of Thin Mints and edging my pancreas ever closer to Type II diabetes.

I don’t mean to pick on the Girl Scouts. There are numerous influences on young people of all genders that make me wonder how our society can continue. Our kids need virtuous role models who can succeed, inspire, and impress without taking drugs, uttering profanity every fifth syllable, prostituting themselves on the screen or stage, debasing our currency and morals, backdating stock options, or failing to leave tips in restaurants.

As a trained whiner, it’s easy to see the problems in current role models. But who do you see that offers some hope? I’d like to make a list of the top 10 bright spots in modern popular role models for youth. Who should be on it? I started my own list, but couldn’t get past Ron Paul and President Thomas S. Monson. There’s got to be more. Suggestions?


Author: Jeff Lindsay

27 thoughts on “Youth in Need of Role Models: Who Can You Suggest?

  1. Hello,

    I ran across your post and thought I’d share that I recently wrote a piece about a role model of my youth. I think that the life of Roberto Clemente is a good one for kids to study. He was an amazing dude, all-around, and a great guy to use as inspiration to do bigger and better things.

    Some of my writing may be a bit “edgy” for you or your readers, but this Roberto Clemente piece is clean and inspiring.

    Ron Paul is also a good role model but I’m wary of wishing kids to be politicians. The man Ron Paul is a wonderful role model. All politicians rule over other people, though, and that’s an iffy idea to get in the minds of youth. The man Ron Paul is a better role model than the politician.

  2. Wow, you seriously wont write the V word? I wont write it here out of respect for your space but really, come on, we’re intelligent people. V’s are nothing to be afraid of. All women have them, and everyone’s born through them (not counting c-sections of course).

    Eve Ensler’s point in calling her play the V Monologues is to make people comfortable with reffering to this part of the human anatomy. NOT reffering to it simply and freely when needed makes little girls (who become women) ASHAMED of their bodies.

    Simply using the V word is not offensive and certainly not even sexual as they have many non-intercourse functions.

  3. The first suggestion that comes to mind is Bill Cosbey. Of course he’s not quite in the popular culture as he used to be, but still is pretty well known and does have his hand in some projects targeting kids.

  4. Former NBA basketball great A.C. Green. In an environment renown for groupies and rampant promiscuity, he held firm to his convictions to save sex for marriage. He didn’t get married until his mid 30’s and to his word, did never gave in despite what must have been constant temptation and sure ridicule from his peers. The true definition of valiant.

    I also see lots of positive in Tiger Woods. By all accounts a clean guy with razor sharp focus and work ethic. But maybe he doesn’t count because I think he may not really be human given his near mastery and perfection of golf.

    Scott E.

  5. Okay, I’m surprising myself by saying this (’cause I so hated the boy in my own youth), but Donny Osmond is sure making it fun to be white n’ nerdy (I think it was when he did Technicolor Dreamcoat that he snagged my respect). He’s consistently been a good example, family man, supportive friend and brother. It’s come to this… I vote Donny.

  6. Some good male role models mentioned… Hard to find a decent female, as many women in the public spotlight have morals that are far from what I want my daughters to see.

    Even Oprah Winfrey, who many people look up to, has a “me first” kind of mentality, which is definitely not in keeping with the gospel of Christ, which recommends we serve others to find our happiness, and is what I have found to be a profound truth.

    I think it important to look close to home, and find women who although they are not perfect, are striving to fulfill their role as a daughter of God.

    I should add that I am very impressed by Condoleeza Rice… I think she has many qualities girls can strive to emulate.

  7. Ayla,

    From what I understand, yes, all women have them, but would you like it if we mentioned the “P” word everywhere, I mean all men have them.

    Also, since those are Private parts, I have to take it that means they should be considered private and therefore it would be immodest to mention them, especially on a blog that’s geared towards modesty, chastity and upholding the sanctity of life.

    Just my two cents…

  8. Brett Favre. Despite barely getting a scholarship to play for Old Miss (and starting his first gave as the seventh string quarterback hungover) I haven’t encountered much about this athlete that doesn’t make me smile. He plays for the right reasons, loves his job, and has missed important football events to spend time with his family. I like the guy.

  9. “V*****”?? I think I just teleported to either 4th grade, or 1950. And we wonder why people think we’re weird…

    In this age, all public figures have some dirt that’s been dug up. Better to teach kids about people’s qualities than to focus on one person.

  10. I think that I’m going to have to side with Nephi and Enos and vote for my parents.

    It may be trite, but role models need to start at home. To quote David O. McKay. “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

  11. ron paul? (me too!) my respect for you just went up several notches.

    i like this idea of making a list. i think there is *plenty* of role models now, it’s just that popular media and culture doesn’t spotlight them, so it sure makes it feel like all we’ve got is britney spears, blech.

    take heart. there are many to look up to. or you could always move to asia, where they celeb-stalk scientists instead of actors.

  12. Calm down, sensitive enlightened ones! There are some good reasons not to spell out some words. One of those reasons involves Web filters. I’ve had some Web filtering services block my site in the past and found many people weren’t able to read my stuff. I keep some terms off my pages so that people won’t be kept off them.

    Likewise, when ranting against Hollywood, I might deliberately misspell words such as p0rnography.

  13. I agree that the role models should start from home. But for many their might not be any good ones. I’m going to sound really cheesy, but I really think Miley Cyrus is a pretty good one for young girls. Miley Cyrus of course is the star of the Disney channel hit show Hannah Montanah. The reason why I think this is because a lot of girls watch her show and most of them want everything with her face on it. They love her and it’s good to see young women like her out there. She’s a beautiful, talented 15 year old who’s sweet and has a great sense of humor. Her show also stars her real father who also plays her father and you can just see the love they have for each other and their co-stars. Miley talks a lot about her family and how important they are to her and how they’re there for her when she needs them. She points out also that dreams can come true and that they can for anyone too. She knows their are people that look up to her and she loves it.

    I think its good to know that their are good role models that kids can look up to. And even better when many can be one at a young age.

  14. I was a little surprised to see the star of Hannah Montana considering the only thing I “knew” about her is that she is pregnant. But actually after a google search it appears I didn’t get the message that it wasn’t true–the media was reporting it as if it was true and I never heard any correction. Go figure. I don’t know much about her other than that, so it sounds like she’s a good person from your description.

    Since I first read this post I’ve been trying to think of others besides Bill Cosbey that I originally suggested, but I can’t think of any, which I think proves to me the point Jeff is trying to make. (I’m sure there are other examples, I just don’t know of them)

  15. Mike L, no, that’s Jamie Lynn Spears, star of Zoey 101.

    Great post Jeff & it really made me think. I agree about Tiger Woods.

    How about…

    Diane Fossey
    Jane Goodall
    Aimee Mullins
    Erik Weihenmayer
    Alton Brown
    Dr. Paul Farmer
    Maya Angelou
    Wangari Maathai

  16. jeans,

    Thanks for the correction. But there must have also been a rumor about her at some point since when I searched, “Miley Cyrus pregnant” I got a bunch of results about how people said she was but she really wasn’t, so that must have been a separate issue. So I take back what I said about the media… for now.

    Sorry for the unrelated comment.

  17. I don’t know who has been watching American Idol but this David Archuleta kid can sing and is genuinely modest. I am not picking him out to be a role model because he is from Utah but because of his sincerity. What other 17 year olds have been doing what he is doing right now, trying to better themselves. All the while setting a good example.

  18. How is Ron Paul a good role model? He is an advocate of foolish policies. Allow me to elaborate. He is pro-gay rights. He wants to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow openly gay service members in the army. He opposes the “war on drugs” and even would allow some states to legalize drugs. He opposes the FED even though it has kept our economy the most stable that it has ever been over the last 30 years. He wants to abandon the Iraqis and other oppressed people around the world to evil forces. He wants to abandon all of our important alliances like NATO and the UN. History has already proven that isolationism is not an option for America. The last time we failed to stop dictators and other evil forces in their tracks, world war II resulted. He opposes NAFTA and the WTO which have made America fabulously rich and have fostered great economic prosperity. His idea to abolish income taxes and switch revenue sources to tariffs would destabilize our economy, decrease consumer spending, and increase the income gap in this country. Ron Paul’s ideas are dangerous and scary. I cringe to think what would happen if he became president. Finally, his rejection of federal power is a dangerous idea for the religious right. The size of government will continue to increase. We might as well face the facts. Instead of avoiding government power, religious conservatives should seek to control it. For a more in-depth thesis on the necessity of our control over the government, visit my blog and read, “why Christians must pass a constitutional ammendment banning gay marriage.”

  19. Wendy Shalit – she’s been a vocal proponent for modesty.
    Brooke White – Admitting that you’ve never watched an R rated movie on tv? That takes guts!
    Michelle Obama – she’s just classy
    I second that Miley Cyrus comment. Her show is too cute!

  20. Mike L, your right about their being a rumor about Miley Cyrus being pregnant a while ago, but they found out it was nothing more than just a rumor. It’s sad to see people try to make stars look bad but I’m glad Miley has the support of her family and friends to keep her going. Love that girl!

  21. Hi All,

    Just a suggestion on a role model for today’s youth. How about Jimmy Braddock. He was a boxer during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Mr. Braddock lost everything during the depression, lost most of his fights during that time, and was considered a washed up fighter. But, Mr. Braddock never gave up, he supported his family by doing degrading work, and ultimately overcame his losses. In the end, Mr. Braddock regained his title, and paid back all of the welfare money he took from the state during his time in need because it was the right thing to do. If you want an example and a role model of enduring to the end, Jimmy Braddock is an excellent example and role model for our youth to follow.

    Catholic Defender

  22. “Hannah Montana” the tv charcter may be a “good” role model (and I say that very hesitantly), but Miley Cyrus herself is NOT. Haven’t you guys seen those pictures of her lately? Wearing up to *there* miniskirts, halter tops, thick makeup…she looks 30 years old at the recent red carpet events. Plus she has pictures of her and friends doing inappropriate things (pretending to “share” a lollipop so that it looks like they are about to french kiss each other, pics of her in sexy bra and undies, very “myspace-y” type photos that are immodest and immoral).

    Celebrities are very rarely good role models. Actors are not their charaters…singers are not what the sing about…sports players are not who they seem to be on the field. Just because these girls PLAY sweethearts on TV/ in the movies, does NOT mean they are good role models. It is not their true self, it is just a character.

    You just have to look at Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, etc…they were America’s sweethearts, but then they “grow up” and start acting out. Even Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted) has done nude roles, played a stripper, was one of the wives in Brokeback Mountain, etc.

    I would encourage parents to REALLY look at the celebrity’s personal life before advocating them as a role model for their young children. I’m actually really surprised and dismayed that so many parents on here didn’t know how risque Miley is in real life. :/

  23. I guess the current controversy regarding Ms. Cyrus (and I will call her Ms. since apparently 15 is considered adult enough now to pose in suggestive pictures for magazines) underscores the need for care we must have before we put people up as role models for our kids. Perhaps the whole idea of using celebrities as role models is flawed.

  24. wow..why cant u people just leave miley cyrus alone? what the hell.. has she ever done anything to you? have u spoken to her lately?? didnt think so… please just go and talk about you own kids

  25. Anonymous,

    We are talking about our kids. Specifically, we are talking about what kind of role models are good for our kids and what kind aren’t.

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