Teachable Moments from ‘American Idol’

by | May 22, 2009 | Late Breaking News, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

If you weren’t among the millions watching this week’s must-see TV event let me be the one to break it to you: Arkansas student Kris Allen was officially crowned as the eight American idol. A record high of nearly 100 million votes were cast in the finale and thousands of kids tuned into the season finale. I’m also betting that all too many debating the same hot topic: How much money and notoriety Allen will reap from his victory.

The fact is scores of studies have found that this generation fantasizes A LOT about becoming rich and famous. A recent survey found that 31 percent of American high school students say they expect to become famous someday. (As many rich as poor kids share the same aspiration). Many are willing to settle for even “near-fame”: 43 percent of middle school girls say their life goal is become a celebrity personal assistant. And it doesn’t help that every entertainment show this week features a segment on how much money past idol winners have made.

So what’s a parent to do? Well here’s one simple solution: Switch the emphasis from $$$ and fame to positive qualities in the American Idol competition like sportsmanship, perseverance, grace under pressure, accepting criticism, handling defeat and cultivating talent.

Here are five lessons to bring up over these next few days every child should learn.

Talent is cultivated. Kids see the performances and moment of fame but miss the contestants’ long and hard work (And the lessons, the practice, the recitals). Emphasize that success never happens overnight but through sweat and tears.

Losers lose graciously. There always are losers in competitions and the best of the best lose with grace. No falling apart. No blaming the judge. No excuses. Point out that Adam Lambert‘s immediate response upon losing was to embrace the Idol winner.

Winners win graciously. Kris Allen won the crown and did so with memorable class. “It feels good” Allen admitted, “but Adam deserves this.” Stress that display of humility to your kiddos.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Stress that there is no sure win. In fact, everyone–including Simon Cowell–expected Lambert to win.

Wash your hands and comb your hair. It appears that image matters! Manners. Presence. Social skills. Grooming. Audiences voted for Allen’s clean cut, boy next door appeal. (Yes!)

My congratulations to the two final Idol contestants for displaying talent as well as sportsmanship. I just hope the kids watching picked up on those worthy lessons.