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to think obsessive role models might not be good for children

(27 Posts)
IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 13:13:16

I feel that every success story I see on the news or in social media these days is based around somebody saying they only ever cared about one thing in their life and spent all their time working towards one goal.

This includes sports people, movie stars, pop stars, business leaders politicians etc.

I feel that obsession is being sold to us as a model for being successful in life.

For the vast majority of people, they can obsess all they like and commit 100% to their dream ambition - they still won't achieve it...(as an endless parade of wannabes on X-factor will attest - they all only ever dreamed of being a singer, have worked their whole lives for it etc. and only a few a year make it meaningfully).

So what happens to the mental health of all the people who are being sold a model of success that won't work for them, because they don't have the talent of the people they hope to emulate?

On average having a lot of strings to your bow, a lot of independent areas of interest in your life is a good way to remain mentally healthy because when one aspect goes shit shaped you have the others to fall back on.

AIBU to think celebrating the success of obsessive people non-stop all of social media might be contributing to the declining mental health of young people?

MumOnTheRunCatchingUp Thu 18-Feb-16 13:30:41


So many guesses and sweeping statements in there!!

AutumnLeavesArePretty Thu 18-Feb-16 13:41:06

It's not a bad thing to want a particular career and aim for it. Decent parents know their childs limitations and guide them accordingly with a back up plan.

For many, I doubt it's just the media but parents dragging them to dance class after class or pushing them hard in a sport so the child believes they are the next big thing. That's far more damaging than the media.

IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 13:43:47

I am seeing more and more uni students with mental health problems..for a lot of them it seems to stem from having been trained to obsess over their studies and academic progress.

Of course parents should encourage their kids to do well at school but turning up in the real world (as much as uni is the real world) with all your self-esteem invested in your academic grades is a recipe for disaster.

Gottagetmoving Thu 18-Feb-16 13:45:51

I hate all the promotion, either on Social, media, the TV or by parents for striving for anything.
I am all for chill out and see what happens grin

BespokeStereophonicVinyl Thu 18-Feb-16 13:46:09

Personally, I'm a big believer in the 10,000 Hour Rule

The earlier you start, and the more committed you are, the better.

X Factor wannabees just haven't put in the hard work, that's why they will never make it.

SquidgeyMidgey Thu 18-Feb-16 13:46:50

I think I understand what you mean OP but I'd rather my child looked up to someone like that rather than someone off TOWIE.

Keeptrudging Thu 18-Feb-16 13:52:28

To be a top level sportsperson/musician (non-manufactured) requires pretty much dedicating your spare time to that one particular pursuit from quite a young age. There are exceptions, but most sports start upping the training for those with potential at about 8.

ButEmilylovedhim Thu 18-Feb-16 13:53:42

I agree, Icebeing. Especially about getting your self esteem from succeeding academically. I got a lot of praise for being 'clever' my whole childhood. I would have been better off doing some hobbies and less schoolwork. But I was limited by lack of resources, money and transport so no one's fault really. All fell to bits when I suffered ill health and couldn't work like I had before. I'll be trying to make sure my dcs have a more balanced life.

IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 13:55:26

Ah see the 10000 hour rule is exactly the problem. You can't be world champion anything without putting in the hours...but putting in the hours doesn't imply success.

Somebody told me the other day that I could be an olympic champion high jumper if I put in 10000 hours....but I am short and bottom while I could get massively better at high jumping given 10000 hours I will still get trounced by someone a foot taller than me who had also put in 10000 hours.

The point is to be world champion you have to have talent, luck AND obsession.

Mimicking the obsession doesn't get you the other two elements.

IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 13:59:15

There's a Finnemore sketch about tricycling that covers this....

Its all about how inspirational it is that he devoted his whole life to tricycling and became world champion...and he just keep saying why is that inspirational?

The idea that everybody else could do the same and end up with the same result is bollocks.

IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 14:00:57

butemily sad that sounds very familiar. I had to diversify to find self-esteem in new places.

I am worried the trend is getting worse...and I am wondering if the social media explosion, linking as it does everyone to very few success stories out there, is partially to blame.

Katenka Thu 18-Feb-16 14:01:26


If you want to be at the top of your game, you have to put the work in. Sometimes it won't be enough.

I am never going to be world kick boxing champion but still train hard many hours a week. My ds however could be as he is very talented and works hard. Luckily we also train at a dojo which has helped a few European and world champions so know we have a good team behind.

The people on the X factor rarely have put the work in. So it's a poor comparison and often they aren't good enough. You need to put the work in but also be realistic about your limitations.

Fear of failure causes stress. Learning to accept you don't always win or succeed is important.

As pp said you have to have luck talent and hard work.

What you are suggesting is that young people aren't being realistic

DerelictDaughter Thu 18-Feb-16 14:02:09

Tricky one. "You can be anything you want to be" is a nice idea but it needs clarifying that there is work involved. Surely if anything the madly obsessive yet successful people show how much work is needed to er be all over social media all day every day.

I'd like to see kids being taught totally realistic skills like bookkeeping (you will always be ahead when you start out as a performer if you can keep your accounts in order and not faint at the sight of a tax return deadline), desktop graphic design (promote yourself), putting forward a coherent idea in report form etc.

(I get so many proposals from arts charities for example which are half a question that trails off in the middle. FFS organise your ideas if you want me to take you seriously as a performer or an artist! Bring something to the table, you know?)

Katenka Thu 18-Feb-16 14:04:13

Also I don't know any athletes who didn't attend school.

Do you feel people who go to university only have one string to their bow, too?

BrandNewAndImproved Thu 18-Feb-16 14:08:04

I agree op.

I'm pretty hot on my dc doing extra work at home and I am slightly pushy. However they have a huge range of clubs, interests and hobbies not just one.

Those dc you see being pushed into football training 6/7 nights out of the week is a recipe for disaster imo. It's parents living their own dreams through their dc.

I'm pushy in the sense I want my dc to be happy in all areas of their lives. If they grow up to be well rounded, well read healthy and happy I will know I've done my job right.

IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 14:58:36

katenka it is primarily the people at university who apparently only have their academics that I am worried about! So yes...I am worried people at uni only have one string to their bow and are massively over invested in achieving in that one area.

Katenka Thu 18-Feb-16 15:05:25

So what's your solution?

Most people have things they are good at, and lots they aren't good at.

If you want to turn something into a career you need to work hard.

It sounds like you are saying that a large amount of students assume they will come top in everything and can't handle it if they aren't?

In which case they are entering uni, sport, politics (or whatever) completely unaware of real life.

maydancer Thu 18-Feb-16 15:22:45

But nearly every uni students with that level of application Will succeed.I think it is a weird message to send out that you shouldn't try too hard incase you don't succeed and fall apart!
Also in my experience people like that are self-driven! Once a child gets to about 10 no amount of parental pushing works!

IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 16:01:46

derelict "you can be anything you want" is transparently untrue even if you DO put the hours in.

Another hugely unhelpful message to young people IMO.

IceBeing Thu 18-Feb-16 16:54:19

I think there is a difference between working hard and obsession.

There is working hard to get the grades you need to progress then there is having all your self-esteem tied up in the endeavour.

And actually if you were working a 60 hour week to get your A* then you are really going to struggle at uni level anyway.

maydancer Fri 19-Feb-16 13:17:42

university students are massively financially invested in their degree.

IceBeing Fri 19-Feb-16 13:33:02

yes that may account for part of the upswing in depression/anxiety.

theycallmemellojello Fri 19-Feb-16 14:44:44

I think you're right, particularly when it comes to singers/actors/sportspeople. Clearly being very keen and working very hard is necessary but not sufficient for success in those arenas. However, I think that the ability to work hard and apply oneself is a transferable skill. It's best to encourage kids to do things for their own sake rather than the end result though imo.

IceBeing Sat 20-Feb-16 20:03:55

The problem is really with deciding you will only be successful if you make it to the olympics/bgt final or whatever. Work as hard as you like as long as you can cope with it not working out...

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