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Parental Influence: Did you know you could be a hero?


Television commercials have evolved into a highly developed art form. Action, comedy, drama, educational spots, and even three part mini-series are played out in thirty-second or one minute sound bites. Sometimes, on a slow TV night, they are the best entertainment on the small screen. Advertisements have an amazing power to manipulate both our spending habits and our preferences.

Today, more and more high-profile celebrities are being paid to promote products. As if a famous face lends credibility to a particular soft drink, line of clothing or even lifestyle. Teens, especially, read magazines, watch videos, and listen to talk shows that showcase music, sports, movie and television stars, displaying their opinions and promoting their values with glitz, glamour, and a level of endorsement that seems to equate celebrity with authority on almost every topic.

To parents, this can be overwhelming. What influence do we have - we wonder - when our children listen so attentively to the voices of excess, immorality and vice?

Here's the good news. Research has demonstrated, time and again, that children - especially teens - look to their parents for guidance regarding every important area of their lives. Drugs, sex, appropriate conduct at school, friends, money - you name it - they want to hear from us.

Here's the flip side. If we sidestep the opportunity to dialogue with our children, if we avoid the difficult topics and circumvent this incredible opening we have into their lives, then they will turn elsewhere for advice.

We may not have our face on the front of their box of Wheaties. We might not be exchanging hip observations with the MTV '"VJ." Our opinions typically won't be highlighted on "Geraldo talks with famous teens recently out of rehab."

But, we are their heroes, and the opinion of parents means more to teens than we realize - more than a boatload of famous faces - because deep down they know that we love them, that we take the time to care. And that counts for a lot.

By Derek Maul

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