“Hmmmm….good relationship advice for me tends to be honest and knowing yourself. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be mean. Don’t take shit. Don’t settle. “ Actress Kristen Stewart (on relationships)
While sitting in a waiting room, I read the above quote by Kristen Stewart in an interview she did for Glamour magazine. This wisdom got me thinking pretty deeply about my own relationships. I don’t think anyone can argue that the girl hit it right on the head with her simple words. Such wise words for such a very young person, but as everybody knows, out of the mouths of babes often come great truths.
It is uncommon for me to consider the “wisdom” of celebrities, because I can’t identify with them. Their values, lifestyles and sound-bites are usually littered with shallow, materialistic gibberish and narcissism. It’s a bummer, because our culture has been “celebritized.” I call it Holly-wisdom, when a celebrity gets really opinionated AND soap-boxy. Peers, teachers, books, television, music, and movies are among some of the sources who are providing my hellions with information about which they must learn to discern, but in our media/technology saturated culture, celebrities are by far the biggest influence and source of information and opinions. My recent experience with Holly-wisdom reminded me just how important it is that I am gifting my children with discernment skills. I mean really, if their 41 year old mom was severely thought bombed by an actress half her age (who I think gave some of the best relationship advice on EARTH), how the hell can I expect them to resist the Holly-wisdom that is so influential in our culture?
More than ever, celebrities are using their fame to promote products and causes. I’ve used Moms who drink and swear to raise awareness to causes that I feel passionate about. I realized early on that there was power behind the numbers and was influenced by people like Matt Damon who started http://www.water.org. I used my fan page exposure to introduce MWDAS readers to this amazing organization. People listen to celebrities and this is where the art of discernment is so important. I did some research on Water.org before I shared it on my page. The art of discernment is even more important for young children who are looking to these celebrities as role models. Can discernment be taught? Are you wondering what the hell the word discernment means and why the hell did I weave parenting concerns and celebrity culture into a blog?
The simple definition of the word discernment is the ability to judge the value and quality of a certain subject or event. Discernment is not a natural process for children who are black and white thinkers, ruled by emotion and easily influenced. The word is often used when discussing spiritual things, but for now I just want to talk about how providing a child with the wisdom and skills to be discerning might just be the bestpracticalgift you EVER give them. I am writing about this because both of my kids are currently swimming in a sea of influence.
An example of this: My daughter loves Selena Gomez and Pink. I couldn’t be happier that she has the positive songs, “Who says,” and “Perfect,” on heavy rotation. The encouraging and affirming lyrics of these two songs tell her (over and over and over and…..) that just being who she is makes her perfect. Good stuff, but these messages are also being delivered by women who are immersed in celebrity culture and highly likely to use their notoriety to raise awareness to causes dear to their hearts and will be expressing their opinions in hundreds of magazines, books, interviews, etc. on hundreds of topics that my daughter will be reading. I want my daughter to know that her admiration for these celebrities should be tempered with discernment. How do I teach her the art of discerning whether or not she should listen to these women when she realizes that they do a LOT more than sing songs?
Above I used the word Holly-wisdom. I don’t know if I read it somewhere or I just pooped that out like the rest of the bizarre jumble of oddities that come out of my big mouth, but I love it. I LOVE IT. I want to tell you how I’m giving my kids this gift when Holly-wisdom strikes.
When one my kids come to me with Holly-wisdom, the first thing I do is identify it as such.
“This is Holly-wisdom. Do you have any other information about this?”
The second thing I do is to help them gather the information about said Holly-wisdom.
“Let’s do some research on this. Let’s you and me find some evidence and support for this Holly-wisdom, shall we? Let’s look at some FACTS.”
The third thing I do with them is to examine how this Holly-wisdom FEELS to them and to discern whether or not the opinion, action or information is in synch with which they are, and their individual beliefs.
“Now that you have the information, let’s use what you know to figure out what this has to do with YOU and the person YOU are and what you know in your own heart, mind and gut makes sense.”
Last, I encourage them to put all the pieces of the discernment puzzle together so that they can see the entire picture.
“OK, now what? What do you want to do with what you have learned? How does this help you become a stronger person, better friend, citizen of the world and most importantly do you feel stronger and better because of this new information/belief you have absorbed?”
There was a time not so long ago that “Teach your children well,” was a matter or dragging them to churches, schools and family gatherings that didn’t encourage any views of opinions outside of their often narrow minded, inflexible and long held institutional beliefs. Children became rebellious teenagers who questioned authority and fought to find their own voices and to form their own opinions. The difference today is that there is a much wider range of influence and the voices bombarding children. Many of these influences come in pretty, wealthy packages that society as come to value over religion and family in terms of importance. This is evident in all forms of media, advertising, music, politics and religion (i.e. celebrities turned politicians, product spokespeople, religious spokes people, and numerous festivals/ concerts/songs specifically to raise funds or bring attention to causes/charity ).
Kristen Stewart is a famous movie star, but the quote that provoked me to deep thinking thinky-ness only encouraged me to examine one aspect of my relatedness to others. I don’t want to dress like her, buy the stuff she buys or think that all the things she will say in the future will be my road map to successful relationships. I’m not interested in her political or religious views or musical taste. I just like what she said, but I wouldn’t have read those words if she weren’t a famous movie star being quoted in a magazine.
I had to discern whether this Holly-wisdom would be of use to me. Her words encouraged me. I’m going to try very hard to do a little more of what she said, like being honest and knowing myself and not being mean or an asshole and NOT settling or taking shit. This will make me a better wife, friend, parent, daughter and overall citizen of the world. I’m not taking the advice because she’s a celebrity and she told me to. I’m taking it because it’s damn good advice. It doesn’t change who I am or make me want to be someone other than myself. Using this advice will merely enhance the me I already am.
Mother Theresa said, “When you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Discernment is NOT judging others. It’s being able to judge FOR yourself so that you can be true to yourself. Whether my kids become a superstar servant like Mother Theresa or a superstar actress like Kristen Stewart, I’ll be right by their sides, teaching them discernment while I’m discerning how to be a superstar parent that is raising her kids to be superstar human beings.