Concerned Mom: My 11-year-old constantly talks about wanting to be famous. She's always holding a pretend microphone, singing in the mirror, videotaping herself and more. To me, this seems like the wrong focus, yet many of her friends talk the same way. Am I being silly and overreacting to her desire for fame?
Dr. Linda Mintle: I am glad you asked this question. I don't think you are being silly or overreacting. Here is why: A third of tweens and teens surveyed felt it was important to be famous. One of the contributors to this emphasis on fame is the use of social media.
According to Temple University psychologist Laurence Steinberg, social media allows teens to imitate what it is like to be famous. He also thinks that adults play into this need for fame by posting videos and pictures of their kids on Facebook and YouTube. Then, when we add Reality TV, where the goal is to be discovered, kids think, fame is worthy to pursue.
Now part of being a kid is pretending to be a singer or someone famous, so you want to see some of this as just a passing phase. The problem is when it becomes a goal or an area of focus. Clearly the Bible promotes humility instead of status, honesty and generosity instead of wealth, self-control instead of self-indulgence, etc.
So teaching your child the contrast of these values in a culture that often promotes the opposite is important. Oftentimes, fame can be corrupting. It is the pursuit of fame for a person's own sake that becomes problematic. For the Christian, the true purpose of fame should be to bring glory to God. Since fame is fleeting and self-serving, it is never too early to talk about the true character of a Christian.
At an early age, kids need to be directed to activities that involve humility, caring for others, and empathy in order to combat the cultural obsession with fame. Continue to talk about what is important in life and build Christian character in your child. If she becomes famous one day because that is God's plan for her, then hopefully she will understand how to use that platform to glorify God.