SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

July 5, 2013

How to talk to kids about Aaron Hernandez

Recent news of ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez’s arrest has left football fans throughout the country feeling shocked. Disappointed parents and crestfallen kids may still be processing the events involving one of their sports heroes. But is Hernandez a hero? Our society’s obsession with celebrity leads to confusion about the distinction between being a star and being a true hero. Athletic talent and performance can make a football player a star, but true heroism is based on strong character and heroic acts. While adults are struggling to separate his character from his talents as an athlete, children may be feeling outright betrayed by the notion that Hernandez might be a murderer.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain perspective regarding the human-ness of today’s celebrity athletes who are often overexposed, overpaid, and over-idolized. Because of his success in professional sports, people assumed that Hernandez was someone to look up to and emulate. He is skilled and talented, and until last week, he was part of the elite and revered New England Patriots.

Many adult fans convince themselves that it’s OK to idolize celebrity sports stars out of loyalty to their local team. Parents may unwittingly pass this on to the children around them without recognizing the message they are sending. Like many professional athletes, Hernandez came to be looked upon as a role model for the wrong reasons.

Hernandez’s tragedy is an opportunity for families to talk about values and character. Here are some tips for parents when discussing Hernandez with their children:

Consider a child’s developmental age. Children younger than age 10 lack the abstract thinking ability to process how a sports star could be both a great and popular athlete and a murder suspect. Avoid discussing details of the violence. If the topic of Hernandez comes up, focus on things that are easier and less troubling for them to process. Tell them that since Hernandez is not a professional football player anymore, it’s no longer appropriate to display gear with his name and image on it.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Lifestyle
  • Dear Abby: Younger couples weigh in on how they handle money Dear Readers: On April 11, I printed a letter from "Wondering in Washington," a man asking why young men in general today have the attitude that "any money I earn is mine" in a marriage or live-in situation. He said when he married, he and his wife c

    July 22, 2014

  • Dear Abby: Dating scene is frustrating for strong young woman Dear Abby: I am a young woman hoping to find "The One." But I have come to realize that I'm not the normal female. I don't get manicures or go shopping. (I hate shopping!) When I meet a guy, he likes that I'm "me," but if we get serious, then I'm eit

    July 21, 2014

  • Monday's Best Bets Best Bets for Monday, July 21

    Looking for something to do today? Here are The Salem News' Best Bets:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • This weekend's Best Bets Best Bets for Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20

    Looking for something to do this weekend? Check out The Salem News' Best Bets.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • North Shore religion news in brief The Rev. Wesley Williams will be the featured guest for the 9:30 a.m. worship service on Sunday, July 27, at Holy Trinity United Methodist Church, 16 Sylvan St., Danvers. Williams will use the sermon time to lead in the singing of spirituals and give

    July 19, 2014

  • North Shore religion calendar Saturday, July 19 Church Yard Sale, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Our Lady of Fatima Church, 50 Walsh Ave., Peabody. Church-sponsored yard sale features home furnishings, clothing, children's items, furniture and more. Portuguese food will also be available. All

    July 19, 2014

  • North Shore Gardener: Can 10-year-old plant food be used? Q: As I am getting older, my gardening is less and less, but I do have three potted cherry tomato plants on my deck. I wonder if some Vigoro Water Soluble Tomato and Vegetable Plant Food that I have had in my garage for about 10 years would be safe a

    July 18, 2014

  • Dr. Kate's Parent Rap: 6 strategies to help your child build self-advocacy skills As tweens enter middle school, they are expected to manage increased responsibility and independence. Included in this set of expectations is their ability to self-advocate for their needs. Self-advocacy refers to an individual's ability to effective

    July 18, 2014

  • doughboys_2 Book Notes: Author discusses World War I at Wenham Museum All the veterans Richard Rubin interviewed for "The Last of the Doughboys," which was published in 2013, are dead now. Given that his subjects ranged in age from 101 to 113, and he started looking for them in 2003, that is hardly surprising. What re

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • womaninyard Quick pick 'East End Open Studio' An art show featuring the work of 15 artists who all live and work in the East End District of Ipswich is on view this weekend at the Ipswich Moving Company Studio at 2 Cogswell St. in Ipswich. The show is called "East End Open

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

NDN Video
Comments Tracker