Our children's role models
In a world of twitter, news feeds, facebook and live streaming it's become very hard to know our children's role models. It is no longer true that a footballer or a singer with dominate the mind of the majority of teenagers: the media world and our access to the celebrities within it, through personal devices, has become bespoke. Role models come from all over the globe, they flit in and out of lives. No longer does one song's lyrics roll around your mind forever or one person's face seem indelibly inked in your consciousness.
Last week at school we hosted a few different speakers: each potential 'real-life' role models for the pupils. Following Andy Murray's post-Queens -victory charity match against Ivan Lendl, Ross Hutchins, an ex-pupil, world-ranked tennis player and friend of the England number 1, came in to play tennis and raise more money for his charity, The Royal Marsdon Hospital. (The hospital has been treating Ross since his diagnosis with cancer last year.) Later in the week, a professional golfer came to speak to the boys in the 5th Form, partly about his life on the PGA tour and his struggle to achieve success, but far more poignantly about his decision to drink and drive one day which resulted in a fatal collision with a young person. This evening we ran one of our monthly seminars for parents of pupils: an ex-parent led this by speaking about the important role of fathers in a young boy's development. Just over 80 dads attended- a good sign in itself and I hope they got something from the discussion. I suspect for many it was the realization that they are in the same boat as many other men and they are battling away to do their best for their sons and daughters.
The evening's speaker opened with a quote from Justin Rose, the newly-crowned champion of the US Open Golf Tournament, a titled he gained on Father's Day.
"It wasn't lost on me that today was father's day...A lot of us come from great mean and a responsibility to our children to show what a great man can be."
And this is a powerful fact. No matter how much dads might think they are getting in wrong with their son, their influence on them in the long and short term is significant. The child may not know this yet and it is natural that they would deny it if asked right now, but at some point, all of us are affected by our fathers. Alarming and unlikely as it may seem, and even within our shrinking media world, perhaps the biggest role models live in the very same house as our children. Of course this is an enormous challenge and one that nobody can truly say they get right every time, but it is surely something of a privilege to consider that fathers (and mothers) may one day be remembered as Janice Turner described in the Times this weekend, as ' a presence in your life as broad and solid as a tree.'