Charlie Sheen Is a Great Parenting Model

Category: Weekly Columns

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Do you think that Charlie Sheen is a great parenting model? Of course I don’t, but I bet I got your attention? He is a great model of how not to behave, as so many of our so-called “celebrities” are today in abundance.

When I was growing up we had terrific male role models.  JFK stood out as the image of a man to me when I was a boy. I was devastated by his assassination.  Sports stars were also heroic and in some cases much larger than life, especially to kids. When Sandy Koufax (scroll to the end of this column to see SK in action at his prime) made the difficult choice not to pitch a World Series game because it conflicted with his faith, he showed us what it meant to be a man, let alone a man of faith.

I’m not sure Charlie Sheen, Michael Vick, John Edwards, Paris Hilton, and so many others are in the same “field.”

But, they do provide excellent teaching moments for our kids. Indeed they do, depending on how you to approach these opportunities. The following dialogue is one way a dad might “approach” this:

Teen Son: Hey, Dad, did you see the latest interview with Charlie Sheen?


Teen Son: Boy, he was so funny. I sure hope he sticks it to CBS!           

Dad: Oh?

Teen Son:Yeah, sounds like he’s being really hassled by them.  Besides, he’s cool.  I want his life!

Dad: I bet you do.

Sound far-fetched? I don’t think so. Might this scenario have been a good “teaching moment?” Ya think? Sheen is a lesson that is just too perfect for a parent to show how drugs, excess, stupidity, arrogance, and fame can be so damaging.

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Are parents, and dads specifically, teaching their boys what it means to be a good man?  Given the preponderance of lousy male role models in the public sphere, it is incumbent on dads, and moms for that matter, to respond to the embarrassment of Charlie Sheen, or the foolish choices of someone like Michael Vick. But, respond with a more assertive approach than “Dad” did above.

Our children, especially the younger ones, will carefully watch how we as dads respond and react. What we say and teach our teen boys is essential to their moral development.

I referenced Michael Vick as I believe, ironically, he is an example of how two different lessons can be taught. When he first got caught and convicted of dog fighting, it was an obvious lesson in just about everything you can do wrong.  However, his rehabilitation is an equally valuable lesson.  I don’t think I’d ever trust him around dogs again, but he paid the price and he did come back.  That, too, is being a man.

Parents, and dads in particular, mustn’t delude themselves in thinking that because they themselves are good people that it will automatically rub off on their offspring. Just because you may be a concert pianist, and your kids may have your inherent genetic musical ability, they still need piano lessons. So, too, they need lessons on morals, chivalry, and respect. They must be taught to be the best men they can be!

Having certain “talks” with your kids may be uncomfortable–for them and for you. So what? Your job as parent isn’t to be their buddy, but rather to be their best parent. And that means you don’t avoid those uncomfortable talks about sex, drugs, drinking, or treating women with respect.

Dads should lead by example, be a good model of the behavior they expect from their boys in their daily lives, and lead in teaching our boys to be good men. I don’t care how hard it may be to deal with the touchy subjects. Do it.  Here’s another way that conversation about Charlie Sheen could have gone:

Teen Son:Hey, Dad, did you see the latest interview with Charlie Sheen?

Dad: No, I didn’t.

Teen Son: Boy, he was so funny. I sure hope he sticks it to CBS!

>Dad: Oh, and why is that?

Teen Son: Because they are so rich, and he’s so cool.

Dad: Hmmm, so you think his antics are “cool”? You think that since he has his own children, it’s “cool” for him to party, beat up women, get drunk or so high he can’t remember his name, and otherwise made a jackass of himself?

Teen Son: But, he’s famous and makes so much money. So what?

>Dad:  The “So What” is that he’s a jerk. He caused several hundred people on that show to lose their jobs. He thinks only of himself and his immediate gratification.

Teen Son: Wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way.

Dad:Good, ‘cause I expect much more of you. Do I treat your mom the way Sheen treats women?

Teen Son: (chastised and quiet): No, you treat her like a goddess.

Dad: Which is exactly what she deserves and how I expect you will treat any woman that enters your life.

Celebrities are our prisms with which many of us see the world. They dominate media and more often than not do not present the most positive role models.  Use the bad ones as the examples not to follow. Live and model the examples your boys should follow. Are you listening, dads?

Is this easy? No. Is it important? You know the answer.

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Sandy Koufax was and is a REAL hero!


Get Bruce’s new book and Limited Edition (of 500) Poster, A Dad’s Point-of-View: We ARE Half the Equation at Amazon, iTunes,, or The Store.