When Heroes Fall

Kids have heroes. They always have, and they always will. Adults have them too.

But what do we tell our kids when our heroes fall? 

The world of sports offers lots of opportunities to see personal success and failure. When the success happens, it reinforces why athletes are heroes to our kids. When they fail though, it’s not clear what it means to them.

Baseball, for example, has been plagued for years now with issues related to Performance Enhancing Drugs. While the “steroid era” has seemingly passed us by (one in which a good number of players with Hall of Fame numbers will probably not get elected because of confirmed or assumed use), we still see suspensions and new scandals emerging. Sometimes the fall is even more severe – as in the case of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, who is now in prison, charged with murder.

So my question is what do we say to our kids? Are there lessons here?

My bottom line is that we can use these falls as platforms for helping our kids understand that their heroes are people – real people. Perhaps we can encourage our kids to admire their professional successes without making the inference that they are “special” people because of their achievements. We can use these examples to let them know that there are pitfalls in anyone’s life, whether or not they are “heroes.” And of course we can remind them that there are lots of heroes in the world – police and fire personnel, teachers, moms and dads. Anyone can be a hero – and it’s great to remind them that sometimes our heroes are heroes because of their personal characteristics, and not just famous achievements.

Man Acting Like Super Hero via Shutterstock.com

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