You Just Might Have a Bieber on Your Hands

Celeb PostersThe internet is blowing up today with the (not so surprising) news of Justin Bieber’s arrest after alleged drunk driving in Miami today.  In my house, this is tragedy for my 13 year old Belieber.

The last few months we have been slowly dethroning Bieber as the King of our tween’s celeb idols, as more and more reports have been coming in regarding his behavior… disregard for his neighborhood, disrespect to his neighbors, alleged drug possession, and activity in brothels recently, to name a few examples.  When all of this surfaces, it’s pretty easy to justify a quick (albeit painful) ejection of all things Bieber from our home.

Earlier this week, we attended the concert of 17 year old Cody Simpson, another young artist of the male persuasion.  Right now in his life, his parents are on tour with him, seemingly very involved in his life and still guiding his path.  There haven’t been any reports of bad behavior from him yet, but he’s 17, right about the same time it all went downhill for the Biebs.

And I wonder about his future, and if, in a year or two, we’ll be forcefully removing Cody posters from our walls and taking his music off of our playlists.  I wonder about the next kids in line to be thrown into a grown up world and wonder if they are destined to be the next Brittanys and Mileys and Justins.  And I wonder how close we all are to having the same kind of situation on our hands in our own homes.

Justin is 19 years old now, and that technically, kind of makes him an adult.  I know that should mean he’s responsible for his own actions and the consequences of his choices.  But I have to feel for the kid.  In the real world, he would be taking a gap year, or heading out for his freshman year of college.  If we were his parents, we’d be calling every day and worrying about his grades and eating habits.

But because of his giftedness, he was asked to be an adult far before he was ready.   He was handed more money than he can even spend and a house in Cali.  Unsupervised.  I’m 34 years old, and might not handle that situation with the appropriate amount of maturity!

Justin is gifted and intelligent.  He’s charismatic and well spoken when he needs to be.  He’s a hard-worker.  I watched “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” and I was a Belieber myself for awhile!  Not that I swooned, but I was convinced that he was more than just a singer with a few catchy songs.  I felt he was a great example of someone who believed in his dreams, and worked hard to achieve them.  I participated in the crowning of Bieber as the King of all Celebs in my home.

We can do that to our own kids too.  We can see them as trustworthy because of their intelligence.  We can see their giftedness and mistake it for maturity.  We can misjudge their readiness to handle difficult situations because of their academic or social savvy.

I know we’ve got to put our kids in situations when they can fail.  I believe we need to allow them failure even, as hard as it can be.  But there is a limit to what we expect of them, isn’t there?

No matter how gifted your 16 year old is, they are still 16.  Do you remember always using good judgement when you were 16?  I don’t.  No matter how intelligent they are, or if they belong to the chess club, or compete in math league competitions, they are still only high school students.  And regardless of how smart they seem, their brains just aren’t wired to handle adult decisions.

When we send our 17 year old honor student to Miami Beach on Spring Break, we might be asking for trouble.  When we allow our fairly innocent 15 year old to attend an unsupervised party, the outcome might be disappointing.  When we hand our seemingly mature-for-her-age 16 year old keys to a new car without boundaries, disaster may strike.   No matter how smart they are, kids are kids.

I want to be a mom who stands between Laine and disaster.  I’ve got to open the door at some point, and let her go out into the world, and see how she fares.  But I have learned from watching Justin Bieber that she’s a long way from being ready.  

We all know a Justin.  A responsible kid who got mixed up in drugs, a brilliant girl who dropped out of college and didn’t achieve her dreams, or an excellent student who drank then got behind the wheel of a car.  It’s easy for these things to happen in our society.

As we tweet about why the US should #deportBieber and why Canada wants us to #keepBieber, let’s keep in mind what we can learn about our own kids from this.  He’s not so different than our children.  And maybe, he just needed his mom around for a bit longer, setting a curfew and doling out a monthly allowance.  Maybe he just needed to have his iPhone taken away, and to spend a week or two being grounded.  Maybe all of this could have been avoided.  I can’t imagine that a smart kid like Justin Bieber feels happy with his life today, and is simply choosing to allow his career and relationships to implode.

Before we crucify him, let’s remember – he’s still essentially just a kid, and kids need limits.  More importantly, kids need the influence of their parents, standing between them and disaster.

As for Justin – today, his posters are down and his music has been silenced.  But he’s only 19 and at that age, I had a lot of growing up to do.  Grace is powerful and one of the most beautiful gifts of life is that there are always second chances.  There are always opportunities to try again.  I believe Justin can return from this downward spiral, and for the sake of his giftedness, his intelligence, and his mom, I pray that he does.

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