Kids ill Always Have Heroes!
In today's society like in the past, kids have heroes. This is usually a good thing. However, in modern society it seems the process of selecting heroes has become rather muddled or confused. Fame should not, necessarily, make a person a hero. We, in our family, have experienced this from both sides: first as parents of two sons who chose heroes while growing up, and now with two sons who have distinguished themselves as outstanding athletes who are often the object of hero worship.
Please hang in here with me on this one so there is no misinterpretation of what I am attempting to say. We do believe that both our sons are worthy heroes. Both are moral, ethical, kind, honest, and admirable people with a strong sense of family. Both are civic minded and both give back to their respective communities. It is just alarming to see how so many people have selected them as heroes who know nothing about them. Many children have been taught to, or at least allowed to, select their heroes/role models based upon nothing more than skill at a game or fame. Few of these kids know much about their heroes beyond some perceived skill. If children had been taught some criteria or standards for selecting role models, it would be different.
A Real "Hometown" Hero
Allow me to illustrate with a personal example. Barbara's Father, Dick Matthews, died suddenly a few years ago. His five grandchildren delivered the eulogy at the funeral. It was obvious to all in attendance that "Grandpa Dick" was a hero to all five. As they spoke of him through their tears, they all mentioned his hero status in their eyes and used words like loyal, dedicated to his wife, hard-working, honest, a man whose word was his bond, as well as describing a fun Grandpa who always had a smile a mile wide.
Dick Matthews was quite a fellow. Nobody could outwork him outside his home. He built houses for a living but he also ran a 120-acre farm and did odd jobs on the side as was needed for extra money for the family. If necessary, I'm certain he would have taken a night job to provide for his family and he did all of his work cheerfully, and with a bounce of purpose in his step. Inside their home it was a different story. In his house, Dick was the king and Maxine, his loving wife of 56 years, waited upon him hand and foot. It was not a "modern" romance but rather one from a previous generation and it worked beautifully for them. Dick earned a living and Maxine kept up the home.
Then, ten years ago, tragedy struck that loving couple and Maxine was stricken by a severe stroke. Overnight she became in need of around-the-clock care rather than being the caregiver. Without the slightest blink, Dick became that 24-hour, 7 days a week caregiver and on top of it he began to do all of the housework! He did all of the laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping and everything else Maxine had done for all the years of their partnership of love. He even did her hair and put on her makeup!
A year ago, while out to breakfast alone with Dick, I was struck by the enormity of the change he had made on behalf of his loving wife and I asked him how he made such an amazing change so suddenly and so cheerfully. His answer really affected me that day and it will always be in my memory. He looked back at me, got tears in his eyes, and then quietly said, "One day 56 years ago, I said 'I do'..."
Man, I think that everyone deserves to be loved like that just once!
A Grandpa Was a Bigger Hero Than Anyone!
At his funeral each of his grandkids said that one thing they had learned from Grandpa Dick was to honor commitments! They each got the message. He was a hero to all. We as adults need to hold people like Dick Matthews up as heroes to our children! We all know people in our families and in our neighborhoods that are so worthy of being heroes to our kids. We must not be so careless as to think that kids will seek out these remarkable but often quiet people; we need to teach them what a real hero is and point out some in their immediate surroundings. Sure an athlete makes a flashy hero and many are worthy of the status, some musicians too are worthy, but let's be careful to teach our kids what makes a person worthy of “Hero” or “Role Model” status. What are your criteria for picking heroes? Fame alone should never define who should be picked as a hero. What are the values, morals, and ethics that make a person worthy of being a hero?
Make tomorrow "Hero Day" in your family and talk about what makes a real hero!
When our son Drew was drafted he was being interviewed by Chris Berman for ESPN. Chris had done some research and found that as Drew was growing up, he had met a number of professional football players at a football camp that I ran. Chris asked, “Drew you have been around some of the greats of the NFL. I see where you have worked with Jim Plunkett, Fred Billetnikoff, Warren Moon, Ronnie Lott, Ken Stabler, Clint Didier, and many others. Were those guys your heroes growing up?”
I think Drew’s reply kind of shocked Mr. Berman when he replied, “Well, kind of… but not really. Those men taught me that NFL players were just pretty regular folks; however, my real heroes were Shawn Woods, Blaine and Mark Bennett, and many of the other outstanding athletes that played for my dad and were the great players who preceded me at my high school!”