If you were Justin Bieber's parent, how would you respond to his recent arrest on drunken driving charges and allegations that he egged a neighbor's house? Would you ground him? Take away his phone? Freeze his allowance?
The truth is that even if she wanted to, it is much too late for Bieber's mom to do any of these things. His financial independence renders her impotent in her ability to give him “consequences.” Besides, it is clear that he doesn’t care what his mother -- or any authority figure -- might think about his recklessness.
In all likelihood, this has much to do with the way Bieber was raised. When a parent doesn't have crystal clear expectations for positive, respectful behavior beginning at a very young age, a child will turn out exactly like Bieber: Insubordinate, rude and disrespectful.
You might be thinking that this isn't his parents’ fault, that success and money is turning him into an entitled brat. But I would challenge that belief, reminding you that talent and success -- whether at the national or the elementary school level -- should not replace high expectations for good behavior.
Money and fame are facilitators, but it is the person's own blueprint -- architected in the way he is raised -- that determines the way he chooses to use financial and social power. In this case, Bieber's blueprint reflects a decided lack of self-respect, as well as a disturbingly blatant disregard for others, including his impressionable preteen and teen fans.
So, why do so many of the Bieb’s young fans continue to revere him, even as his behavior becomes increasingly more socially unacceptable? If it is all about the blueprint, how are we raising a generation of kids that worship their idols at an alter of social deviance and even criminality?
To begin, we too worship bad behavior, exhibiting our own brand of fascination with badly behaved celebrities. We can't get enough of reality TV and gossip magazines. We loudly criticize and demonize, but we still purchase tickets, products and cable subscriptions. And our continued interest encourages contract renewals, so effectively, it is we who financially support artists and athletes that exhibit behavior much like Bieber's and worse.
Even more importantly, as parents, educators and coaches, we often fail to enforce the importance of being respectful and expecting the same from others. We talk incessantly about “zero tolerance,” but resist enforcement when our own child is the bully.
We find it difficult to say “no” or to issue consequences, and we are afraid to disappoint -- everyone is a winner! Everyone gets a trophy!
We are raising a generation of Justin Biebers -- kids who cannot take no for an answer, who are unable to tolerate not getting their way and who don’t care if they impact others negatively. It is not about the fame and fortune -- that just makes it public. Any child can become a Justin Bieber, and a great many do. It's no wonder they continue to idolize Bieber -- he is their narcissistic and self-indulgent hero.
RAW VIDEO: Bieber leaves jail, waves to screaming fans
But, there is hope: Research demonstrates that a parent’s opinion actually matters more to a child than any other opinion, so leverage this!
Tell your child loudly and clearly how strongly you disapprove of Bieber’s behavior. In addition, it is time to use and mean the word “no,” as well as to issue appropriate and meaningful consequences for undesirable behavior.
The window to teach your child self-respect and regard for others exists only until he or she is old enough to be financially (and emotionally) independent. For most kids, this time doesn’t come as quickly or dramatically as it did for Bieber, but it will arrive for every child, and when it does, the blueprint will be etched in stone.