The Gift of Positive Role Models

My son will soon be turning 12! He has just celebrated his Confirmation and we are in the process of enrolling him into high school. He is growing up way too fast!

In such an exciting way his life is opening up and his world is expanding.

As our children grow into the teenage years, our parental sphere of influence in their lives gets smaller.  My deepest hope is that as his father, I will remain one of his most influential roles models.  However, I am also aware that the position of “role model” in my son’s life is something that I will be sharing with more and more people as the years go by.

“Please dear God, place positive, healthy and inspiring role models in my son’s life”. 

Surely this must be one of the most fervent and regular prayers that parents of teenagers make?  So much is at stake, as it’s so easy for role models to also have a destructive influence.

When our kids look for role models today they are spoiled for choice. They have peers, characters from the media – films, books, the music industry, sports… and all of these can become a big influence.

Recently we’ve had a new role model hanging around our house, and it’s given me a new appreciation of the value of our Catholic faith and culture.  His name is Pier Giorgio Frassati and he is the saint my son Jack chose as his Confirmation saint.

In the lead up to his Confirmation Jack completed a school assignment on Pier Giorgio, and we have had photos of him around the house since.

We have learned how Pier Giorgio was a passionate young man, who in his brief life reached the heights of adventure, friendship—and sanctity.

He was born to a wealthy family in Turin at the dawn of the 20th century.  He was good-looking, popular and athletic. He spent much of his youth climbing the rugged Italian Alps, disappearing into the clouds for days at a time. He was quick with a joke or a prank and enjoyed a good time. It seemed he was blessed with everything a young man could ask for.  Despite coming from a family of significant prestige, Pier Giorgio spent most days in the slums of Turin, visiting the poor and serving the sick. His love for Christ burned within him and brushed off on everyone he came into contact with – from lepers and orphans to college friends and political diplomats.

So it’s my prayer that in amongst all the role models my son chooses to allow in his life in the future, Pier Giorgio remains always in the mix.