Family Relationships

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Role Model for Bad Behavior

Usually it's celebrities who provide the bad role models for our teenagers. But now Francesco Schettino, captain of the grounded cruise ship Costa Concordia, has pushed the athletes and all the Kardashians off the Internet home pages and become the poster boy for bad behavior.

Photo by Rvongher, Wikimedia Commons

As we wait to learn the fate of passengers and crew still missing after the disaster, are there lessons from Schettino's actions we can discuss with our kids?

Consider the consequences of your behavior. For personal reasons, Schettino purposefully diverted his ship from its predetermined route, bringing it closer to the island of Gigilo where it hit rocks and later keeled over on its side. Encourage your teens, before they engage in actions that might be risky, to use their good judgment to think through potential outcomes and weigh the risks against the rewards. They may be less dramatic than those Schettino faces, yet important to their future.

Recognize real danger and act to protect from it. The captain and crew first denied the actual emergency, telling passengers only that the ship's power was out. The message to abandon ship came only after the Concordia had capsized, making many of the lifeboats inaccessible. While you don't want your children to be overly tense and vigilant in all situations, prepare them to guard their safety when a threat is, in fact, imminent.

Take responsibility for your actions. Schettino defied the accepted maritime standard of conduct: when it is necessary to abandon ship, the captain accepts his position of leadership and is the last one to leave. He ignored his duty to evacuate all of the passengers before getting into a lifeboat himself. When your kids are faced with an ethical choice, help them to rely on inner strength to do what is right so they won't have regrets later.

Don't lie. When asked by the owner of the cruise line about the situation, Schettino did not at first tell them about the severe damage the rocks had made in the ship. He withheld key parts of the whole story in an attempt to shield himself. As a result, the owners were not able to arrange for adequate rescue services immediately after the disaster. If your teens are tempted to shade the facts, help them remember that you respect their decision to tell the truth.

To read about positive role models - and real heroes like Captains "Sully" Sullenberger and Richard Phillips - join our email list, to the left of this post. You'll receive our free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, and also a link to download a complimentary ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching For Your Goals.

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