As is often the case, last Sunday’s halftime show during the “big game” drew a variety of reactions. On one hand, there were celebrities and well-known athletes praising the two women on stage: “AMAZING! Fantastic Half Time Show!” “Incredible to see such powerful women coming together.” “What a legendary moment.” “Such powerful, sexy women!”
But as a dad—particularly if you have daughters, like me, and especially if you watched with your kids—you might have had a different response. To say that the on-stage costumes and dance moves were “suggestive” would be a gross understatement; more than once, I’ve seen or heard the term “stripper-like” used to describe them. As one person wrote, did the performers think “it’s honorable or somehow ‘empowering’ to writhe around on stage as if you’re trying to gain the attention of a bunch of frat boys?”
I realize that “good entertainment” is subjective, but this is more than that. One day the popular culture wants to promote a worthy movement like #metoo, and the next, they are praising sexually provocative performances during a TV event that is watched by millions of children. And some of the same people who praised the halftime performance were only a week ago proclaiming themselves proud #girldads. Do they realize that there’s something off about that? Is that really what they want for their daughters?
Maybe we all would have been better off if we’d found something better to do for that half-hour of our lives.
And stepping back from all the recent examples, should we really expect anything different from the popular entertainment culture? I don’t depend on NFL players or entertainers to guide or reflect my moral compass, and I hope you don’t either.
However, as fathers we should be aware of what our children (and grandchildren) are seeing and hearing in the media and elsewhere, and we can view these events as opportunities for thoughtful discussions with them. What are our family’s most important values, and how are they reflected in our routines and actions? Where do we draw the line on certain behaviors—and why? Which actions would promote and protect our beliefs, and which would betray them? What factors often cause people to betray their values?
Here are some questions for you and your kids to consider:
- Who are the top five athletes or entertainers that you admire most, and why?
- How difficult do you think it is for them to live their lives according to their beliefs?
- What kinds of challenges often come to a person’s life with success?
- How do you think you would handle that kind of success?
- Who are some people in sports and entertainment that do appear to reflect our values and morals?
- As a family, what is our moral compass based upon? How well do we live life according to our moral compass?
Remember, dads, you are one of the most important and most powerful influences on your children, much more than anyone in the NFL or the music industry. And the life your kids see you living in and out of your home will either confirm or confuse the moral compass you live by. And of course, your kids are always watching you, so make sure you’re living according to your beliefs (and make the most of opportunities like halftime shows).
And if your life isn’t effectively reflecting your most important beliefs and values, perhaps it’s time you ask yourself: Who or what is my moral compass? And how is that influencing my family?
Maybe it’s time you re-calibrated your moral compass as a man, husband, and father (and grandfather). Reading much more of what’s here at fathers.com might be a great place to start.
Randell Turner, Ph.D. is an author, counselor, and a pioneer in the men’s & fatherhood movement. Specializing in healthy masculine intimacy, he has dedicated over 20 years in working with men who feel broken, rejected, isolated, and lonely because of their struggles with “intimacy ignorance.” His personal and professional experience inspired the creation of “Rescuing the Rogue,” designed to equip men in forging intimate relationships to last a lifetime. He lives in Wisconsin and has two daughters and seven grandchildren. For more information, check out his website: TransformingFamilies.org.