What Kids Can Learn From NFL Players’ Bad Choices

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You can hardly turn on the radio or TV this week without hearing about a few certain NFL players (Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice more specifically) and the charges they face for domestic violence and child abuse. The latest: Adrian Peterson is banned from team activities.

Pro sports players rank high on kids’ lists for people they look up to. It could be called ‘hero worship.’ And with jerseys and sporting gear galore to back up that favorite team-spirit fervor, this is a good time for parents to talk to their children about how bad behavior isn’t acceptable even by star athletes (or other high-profile Hollywood stars or teen-sensation singers).

I’m having to just guard what my child hears in order to keep from swaying his young mind. We were in the car the other day and a news report came on the radio about Adrian Peterson and the child-abuse allegations he has against him. I’d heard this news numerous times and opted to change the station. My son, who is 5 and suddenly really getting into football and sports, asked me to turn it back because he wanted to hear about football. Huh, he knew enough about what was being said to make the association to football, even though it was about bad decisions by football players. I took the moment to explain to him that they weren’t really talking about football, but instead about some players who had done some things they shouldn’t have and thus are getting consequences. (My benign answer for my 5-year-old).

I had someone say to me last weekend, “Well it’s just what happens when you give 23-year-olds a lot of money who don’t come from great backgrounds.” OK, you can go with that, but it’s not acceptable. Discipline and consequences need to follow or what does that teach anyone? I really believe parents, whether poor, rich or middle-class, all have the capability to teach their children wrong from right, respect and how to make a smart decision. It doesn’t matter if you have a wad or cash or fame, respecting women, children and each other is universal … or at least should be.

So as this talk goes on about these NFL players’ actions and consequences, take a moment to talk with your kids about respect, why domestic violence is intolerable, putting people on pedestals and choosing good role models, and simply how to make good decisions. These lessons start young and can stick forever. And remember, actions speak better than words.