It is a rude awakening for most of us when a hero of ours suddenly is discovered to possess a dark side, even to be a scoundrel or crook.
When we were young, we looked up to superheroes. Superman was near-perfect except when he came into contact with kryptonite. But he was Superman and somehow always recovered to reign triumphant over evil.
We remember Green Lantern, Aqua Man, Wonder Woman, Captain Atom, Mister Majestic, even Batman before he developed multiple personalities. If they had any weakness, they found a way to overcome it. These heroes did not let us down.
We have our real-life heroes, too, those individuals of remarkable skill or courage who are admired for their special qualities. However, being human, they sometimes disappoint us or betray our trust. In spite of their incredible achievements in arts, sports, entertainment or government, some of them suppress a dark side that eventually tarnishes, perhaps ruins, their reputation and deflates our trust.
We think of modern-day fallen heroes like Lance Armstrong, Pete Rose, Marion Jones, Oscar Pistorius and Roger Clemens. And then, there's Bill Cosby, the iconic humorist, actor and author who finds himself in a firestorm of sexual misconduct and rape allegations brought by more than 20 women. What are we to think?
Dad, if you have young children, they may not connect with Dr. Huxtable or Fat Albert. But for us folks who remember TV's "I Spy" and Cosby's famous album featuring a conversation between God and Noah, we can only hope that these charges prove to be false.
Adolescents and teens have their own gallery of wannabes. LeBron James appeals to all age groups. Then there are emerging personalities like the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Michael Musso, Brenda Song and Miranda Cosgrove. Most of us have heard and seen too much of some and know little about others. No doubt our kids can tell us who they are.
It's in the teen nature to idolize those who have "made it," to want to be like LeBron or Michael or Miley. We think it's important for mom and dad to remind their sons and daughters that they, too, are unique individuals who possess special skills and abilities of their own.
At times, our teen's choice is misplaced and requires redirection. At other times, our teen can build up individuals too high and bestow unrealistic expectations on them, expectations that are nearly impossible to reach or sustain. Too often our teen's world (and consequently our world) comes crashing down when a hero proves to be just like us -- frail and flawed and all too human.
Teach your children to model behavior, not individuals, to take care in placing too much hope and trust in an image and to believe in their own capacity for heroism.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of "Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers." Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at Dads2Dadsllc.com. Contact them at tomandbill@Dads2Dadsllc.com.