Help, my child idolizes Justin Bieber

Liza Finlay offers tips on how to talk about Justin Bieber's latest arrest with your kids.

1TYG-029850 Photo: Tina Gill/PR Photos

Many readers have understandably been concerned about Justin Bieber’s latest behaviour. Specifically, they’re wondering how to talk to their star-struck children about the celeb’s drag-racing, chauffeur-assaulting antics.

One Today's Parent reader wrote:

“What do you do when your 12-year-old daughter keeps defending [Justin]? I am so frustrated with her constant need to stand up for this boy. I understand she idolizes him, but she is so strong in her belief that he is innocent. I am at a loss as to what to say to her. Anything I say she comes back with comments that I don’t know what I am talking about.” — Frustrated mom

I’m here to talk you off the ledge. In fact, I’m here to tell you that this is a blessing in disguise. Why? Because, as parents, we need to take any opportunity we can to pound home the notion that deed and doer are separate. People who make bad choices are not bad people. People (the Biebs included) who make horrible choices are not horrible people.

Read more: How to talk to your tween about their celebrity idol >

Just for a second, consider the lifelong implications of this seismic shift in thinking.

  • Your children are released from the prison of perfection. They can make mistakes, goof, fall down, mess up without fear of being branded forever. Exercising bad judgment once does not lead to a life sentence. In other words, contrary to canned wisdom, my deeds do not define who I am. This applies to everyone, including Justin Bieber. He may be guilty of making some awful choices, but that doesn’t make him an awful person.

And, following naturally from this…

  •  If I am capable of doing, I am also capable of doing differently. While I am not defined by my deeds, I am responsible for them. And the good news is that a part of being responsible for our choices is acknowledging that we can always choose differently. Tomorrow is another day, one in which we have the opportunity to make different choices, with different outcomes. We are all, Justin Bieber included, entitled to this right to a redo.

Putting it all together, here’s what that might sound like:

“Justin Bieber is certainly a gifted entertainer. I agree that he has a great voice and is a great talent. But I don’t think he’s making good offstage choices right now and that concerns me. I wonder what’s making him choose to do the things he’s doing. Any ideas?”

Remember, at some point in the future, your kids are going to make bad choices, too. They’re going to experiment. They’re going to, well, do dumb stuff. You’ll want them to feel comfortable talking to you about it. And you’ll want them to be assured that no matter what they do, you love them. For who they are. Not what they do or what they’ve done.

This article was originally published on Jan 31, 2014

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