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Christy Catherine Marshall

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July 19, 2010

Below is an article by author Vicki Courtney, who has an amazing ministry reaching thousands of tweens, teens, and their parents. Her latest book for girls is Between God and Me: A Journey Through Proverbs.

A good role model can be hard to recognize — especially if you’re the mother of a tween. If your tween is out in the community, even if it’s the online community, he or she is being observed. So what can we do
to make sure they’re taking cues from the right people? Here are five tips for helping your tween find a solid role model, and how to be one yourself.

Walk the Walk
Mothers can scold their daughters as much as they want, but unless they are practicing what they preach, it’s unlikely their daughters will pay their words any attention. One of the virtues of being a role model
is sticking to your word, not only talking the talk, but walking the walk, too. In the end, the ultimate role model when it comes to virtue is the author of virtue, so monitor your fashion choices, language, and online activity as closely as you would your tween’s.

Don’t Look Too Far
Role models have changed over the generations. More people used to describe their role models as being people they didn’t know; i.e., movie stars and athletes. Joe DiMaggio, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc. Now, people tend to find role models that are in some way or another involved in their lives. It emphasizes a worthy saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” So help your tween find close-to-home role models, like a teacher, coach, or trusted friend in the community.

Learn From the Bad
Taking the bad along with the good is one of life’s easiest things to hear and hardest to implement, especially these days, when bad is the new good. Even once-wholesome stars like Miley Cyrus are human, after all. Like any one of us, she makes mistakes. A good role model admits to these mistakes instead of hiding them. For parents, instead of wringing your hands and tearing your robes, you can derive teachable moments from celebrity “role model” mishaps. Talk to your daughter about what went wrong, and how to avoid making the same mistakes.

Be Skeptical
The media bombards your daughters with messages every day. How will you know which ones to believe and which to take with a grain of salt? Often the general message can be deceptive, and the media will
leave out part of the story. Do your research and be discerning. We all deserve to have good role models — so before your teenager adopts one, make sure she is fully informed before she decides to emulate them.

Meet Their Friends
You can tell a lot about a person by who they hang out with. The type of friends a person chooses speaks volumes about her identity. No matter what, there will be those who willingly conform to a peer
group, and depending on the nature of that group, it can have a positive or negative outcome on his or her behavior. When helping your tween choose a good role model, find out first the type of company that role model keeps.

Vicki Courtney is the founder of Virtuous Reality Ministries and, an online magazine for middle school and high school girls that reaches more than 150,000 girls and mothers a year through its website, resources and events. Her blog Virtue Alert receives 20,000 unique visitors a month from fellow parents nationwide.

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