By Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman
It takes more than a degree of motivation to call a radio talk show, wait on hold for several minutes, and then state your case with millions of listeners hearing your every word. So it was not surprising that a recent caller articulated his views with passion and angry words.

“Two weeks ago my son was wearing an Alex Rodriguez jersey,” he began. “Now this! The bum admits to using performance-enhancing drugs. He lied publicly for several years and portrayed himself as clean. He wasn’t. He was a cheater. And if he hadn’t got caught he would still be lying. This was my son’s favorite player. Didn’t he know what a role model he was for so many young people? A-Fraud is making it hard on all parents. He disgusts me. This is terrible.”

The talk show caller is so focused on A-Rod, his behavior, and his responsibility as a role model that he fails to examine a more important role that is being neglected here: the caller’s role in the parenting process. Hey, caller, stop complaining about A-Rod and get your own parenting clubhouse in order. Use this opportunity to go to bat for your own children. Use some of the ideas below to score some runs on your child’s behalf.

1.) See this opportunity A-Rod has presented to you as a blessing. This is not awful, disgusting, or terrible. It is wonderful—a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child while teaching some valuable lessons.

2.) Did you know that 85 percent of children have never had a parent, teacher, or coach talk to them about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs? Stop getting after A-Rod for not doing his job of being a role model and take care of your own job as a parent. Talk to your kids about these dangers today!

3.) When you debrief this incident with your child, listen to what he has heard and read in the papers and online. Get clear on what he understands about the situation before you share your personal views. Do more listening than talking. It will help your child learn that you care about his opinions.

4.) Discuss the process of choosing role models and how important it is to do that wisely. Just because a person makes a lot of money, drives a fancy car, or can hit a baseball a long way doesn’t make that individual worthy of our wanting to grow up to be like him. Factors such as integrity, kindness, charity, giving back, cooperation, and trustworthiness may need to be added to the selection process.

5.) Talk about the celebrity-as-role-model phenomenon. Help your sons and daughters appreciate that celebrities are simply people, not larger than life, as our obsession-with-celebrity-oriented culture tends to portray them.

6.) Examine the issue of mistakes and how people react to them. Help your child appreciate that we all make mistakes and that making a mistake is not a measure of a person’s character or worth. If there is any measure of character related to making mistakes it has to do with what a person chooses to do with the mistake. Do they learn from it? Do they demonstrate that they learned the lesson?

7.) Add the topic of making amends to your discussion. Saying you are sorry is not enough. It is cheap forgiveness. Anyone can say they are sorry. Are they willing to show they are sorry by making amends? How did A-Rod do on this particular issue? Of more importance, how do we do this in our own lives? How do you demonstrate this to your children?

For the past two weeks the sports world has been consumed with stories about Alex Rodriguez. Sports fans, reporters, radio and television hosts, and maybe you as well were shocked by the news of his steroid use, then angered by his lies and subsequent admission. As the story continues to unfold, and it will, we are all dismayed by his comments, confused by his press conference, or downright frustrated with the entire story. The integrity of the players and Major League executives has come into question yet again. The baseball world has clearly taken another hit, and this one isn’t the kind that will increase anyone’s batting average.

As a result, fans are left with a foul-ball taste in their mouths, and some parents threw away their kids’ A-Rod jerseys and took down his Fathead wall decal.

But wait, the A-Rod saga has a good side. There is a silver lining in this cloud of steroid dust. There is hope for Major League baseball. Fans, coaches and parents who want to restore the integrity of the players and return the game to its hallowed position as the nation’s pastime can use this moment to great advantage. The most important part of what happens from here is not what Alex Rodriguez does next. It is what each parent and coach says to their kids about what has taken place. The real “fraud” here may not be A-Rod. It could be the “fraud” that is in each of us if we don’t take this moment to teach our children important lessons.

A-Rod is not hitting right now. He is pitching, and he has just served up a nice big softball toss to parents around the world. It is time for them to step to the plate and hit his latest pitch out of the park.

Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of The Ten Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, conscious children. They publish a free Uncommon Parenting blog. To obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their website today:

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