I once worked with someone who had previously worked with some major theatre stars. I asked him if he noticed any changes in people as they got progressively more famous. He replied, "They didn't change, they just more readily showed who they really were."
Of all the liars, cheaters, destroyers, and other scummy people out there in sports, politics, business, education, and the clergy, Lance Armstrong is at the top of the list. What Lance Armstrong did is nauseating. Not only did he lie about cheating, but he destroyed the careers and reputations of people who tried to come forward with the truth. Even worse, he said in his Oprah interview that he didn't feel like he was doing anything wrong at the time. This guy is a major scumbag who was mistaken for a hero.
When your kids ask you about Lance Armstrong, tell them the truth and don't sugarcoat it. Lance Armstrong cheated, lied, and hurt other people. That's what your kids need to know.
Another thing you have to get across to kids is that just because someone is good at a sport, it doesn't make them a good person. Kids like to think winners are role models simply because they win. However, other than winning, what actually makes them a role model? How do they treat their spouse? How do they treat their kids? How do they help their community? Talk to your kids about what you think makes someone a role model.
Moreover, we need to teach kids that pride comes from doing things the hard way, the honest way, and the old-fashioned way. My pool teacher once told me something that completely changed my game. She said, "I couldn't care less that you miss a shot. I care more that you have the proper form. If you have lousy form and make the shot, you got lucky. But you can't own it and you can't enjoy it. If you do your form perfectly and it goes in, that's when you can feel good." To put it simply, the whole point of doing something is the honor that you put into it. When I was writing my first book, Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, I refused to allow a professional writer to rewrite it for me because I didn't want to put my name on something that wasn't my work. I didn't care if it got published or not - that was the honorable thing to do.
In my opinion, the best thing that could come out of this Lance Armstrong scandal is if Lance Armstrong faced criminal charges and was put in jail. That might resonate with kids pretty well. That would be a good role model. Cheating occurs far too frequently these days and there needs to be consequences.
For more tips on how to talk to your kids about role models who fail them, click here.