When youth and children look up to us as their role models, we have the most sacred responsibility to guide them onto the right path not only by telling them what to do, but also by demonstrating what is best in us so that they can observe and learn from us. We have the best opportunity at hand to help them define and re-define the meaning of their life through our own lifestyles so that they can rise up in the right direction with right values. But if the role models fail to demonstrate what is good for their fans or followers, the result can be catastrophic. Just as the simple but unique hairstyle of Ronaldo during the World Cup final in 2002 could change the hairstyle of millions of his young fans around the globe, the role models can definitely influence the thinking and behaviors of those who look up to them as their source of inspiration and motivation. Hence, I feel all those who are respected by youth as their role models must always walk the right path so that those who follow them do not fall down.
Although there are many celebrities who inspire and motivate youth in one way or the other, I feel parents and teachers are the immediate role models for our children. When children are at home, they consciously or unconsciously look up to their parents for inspiration and believe whatever their parents do or say is good and worthy of imitation. For instance, once a dirty word accidentally slipped off my mouth in a feat of frustration in front of my daughter and I felt ashamed of myself when she reminded me that if adults like us use such a word, then children will automatically learn it. Yes, she is absolutely true. So whatever I do or say, I have to think twice especially when my children are around. In the school, their source of motivation turns to their teachers who have the power to influence their students in whatever way they like. So apart from just teaching what is prescribed in the textbooks, a teacher also has the moral responsibility of demonstrating good values and attitude so that they can positively influence their students who are still growing up, observing and learning from the world around them.
Last Saturday afternoon, my wife told me that she spotted a group of boys and girls as young as our 12-year-old daughter smoking cigarettes at Thai pavilion. I felt sad when I heard that news. I and my wife wondered from whom they could have picked up such habits at such a tender age. My daughter says even one of her female classmates was caught chewing tobacco in the classroom last week. I think we the parents have the biggest share of responsibility here to ensure that our children are in a safe environment. There are parents who openly smoke in the house in front of their children and constant exposure to such an environment would definitely influence the mindset of our young children. I have my own experience to share. When I was a child, my late father used to drink and smoke Biri and my late half-sister used to chew tobacco. I used to think that those things were normal and acceptable. So I tried to learn to smoke Biri but somehow I couldn’t succeed. After I puked a couple of times due to nausea, I totally gave it up. But I could develop taste for tobacco after I started trying it with my sister. Most of the adults in and around my house used to take it and hence, it made me even proud when I could chew tobacco like them. So I was kind of addicted to tobacco even before I went to school. So this can be a food for thought for those parents who constantly drink or smoke at home. We can always advise them what to do and what not to do, but proving what we preach through our own actions is more important for our children. We can tell them that drinking and smoking is not good for health but how can they believe us when we ourselves take it in front of them? The worse part is that some of us even send them to buy liquor, Doma or cigarettes from the shop because we don’t have regulations as in other countries that prohibit shopkeepers from selling such stuffs to children aged below 18. Even teachers should not come to the class chewing Doma or stinking alcohol. My son says his Dzongkha teacher always comes drunk and heavily chewing Doma. I am just wondering what kids can learn from observing their teachers in such a condition. So both parents and teachers have equal responsibilities to ensure that our children grow up in a safe and healthy environment, free from the influence of negative developments. We all are the immediate role models for our children and we must strive to live up to their expectations. The quality of our children mirrors the wisdom with which we have guided them, be it at home or in the school. All our children have the right to grow up to become responsible and productive members of the society. So let us always hold their hands and guide them with extraordinary care and love.