Navigating the waters of the teen years Print
Youth Column
Written by Karen Osborne, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Aug. 08, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Justin Bieber seems to be on the paparazzi's crazy-go-round this month.

Recently, the formerly angelic pop singer started showing up late for concerts, fighting photographers, peeing in a restaurant mop bucket, stiffing store proprietors and insulting former presidents.

Reports said he might have spit on fans standing underneath his balcony at a Toronto hotel.

I don't think that anyone is surprised. Justin is acting out. He's young, rich, and famous. That combination has proven to be trouble for many young stars. Former child singers of his cohort, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, also have gotten into trouble while struggling with what it means to grow up under a microscope.

The biggest task of being a teen, famous or not, is to figure out who you are. Most of us have time, space, and privacy. Celebrity teens have to struggle with it publicly. But examining what these young stars are going through can help teens who aren't famous navigate the choppy waters of discovery. Sometimes, it's a matter of following simple rules. We can look at celebrity teens' behavior to see what to do and what not to do.

Don't be rude. It doesn't matter how much money or power you have. In the case of Justin Bieber, if he doesn't adequately respect others by showing up to his gigs on time and treating others with kindness, people won't like him. Treat others as you want to be treated.

Take a chance, but don't go too far. When Miley Cyrus cut her hair short and adopted a "punk" style, a lot of people said she was killing her career. A year later, as her new single continues to break records, it's clear that those people were wrong. Nevertheless, her success will be for nothing if she falls for the lie that drugs are fun.

Don't be too proud to ask for help if you need it. Singer-songwriter and actress Demi Lovato had problems with drugs and eating disorders when she was younger, but she was able to overcome them with help. At a recent Chicago concert, she encouraged the audience to seek help when facing big or small problems.

We see Justin Bieber and today's teen stars as lucky and blessed. We think: If only I had that kind of money, if only I were that famous, everything would be so much better. My problems would be solved.

It's clear that scads of money didn't solve any of the stars' problems. Likewise, their fame didn't make life easier. In a way, it made things worse as they navigated tough times and thorny questions in public, in view of bloggers, critics, and fans

Justin Bieber obviously is struggling with a lot of questions faced by people his age: Who am I? Who am I in relationship to others? What do I want to do? Why do I feel this way? What should I do? What is wrong? What is right? What do I believe in?

It's OK if you don't have the answers to those questions right now. They'll come in time. When you're having trouble, remember that we've all been there, even the biggest of pop stars, the prettiest of actresses and the most hyped of idols.

Remember the good and bad behavior of others when you're working things out. Don't spit on fans or punch the photographers. Nobody thinks that's cool, no matter who is doing it.


Karen Dietlein Osborne contributes to "Coming of Age," a CNS column series for and about youth. She is a staff writer for the Evangelist, newspaper of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y..

 
 

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