the 2013 american idol judges ::michael becker / fox

the 2013 american idol judges :: michael becker / fox

Dear Nicki Minaj,

I just wanted to send a note of thanks to you for all the ways you’re helping me teach my 10-year-old about respect and responsibility. As a judge on this season’s American Idol, your efforts to showcase how not to treat others have been really brilliant. See, my kid is at a crossroads these days; working overtime to figure out how to manage disappointment and anger, experimenting with sarcasm and snark, repeating words he really shouldn’t, having fun pushing buttons. We know it’s a  natural part of his development, but it sure frays our nerves.

When his dad or I point out what not to do, it often goes in one ear and out the other.  But Nicki, when he sees you act out or be disrespectful on TV, he totally gets it. He can’t believe a grown-up – one who already has everything she could ever want – could still be so rude.

During the regional auditions, remember when you stormed off the set, swearing and pouting because the other judges disagreed with you? That was genius. You acted just like a kid who’s not mature enough to handle conflict or accept defeat. My kid saw himself in you, watching with his jaw dropped. Brilliant move.

Or how about this week’s antics? The way you showed up for Wednesday’s live show 15 minutes late and blamed it on L.A. traffic? Of course, we all know that talent, production staff and the audience are expected to be on-set waaaaay in advance of the actual airtime – even for an itty-bitty local show. When you did show up at the judge’s table, you were chewing gum in a hoodie and giant sunglasses, like you’d just walked off Santa Monica Beach. Sooooo clever. And then, last night, when one of your favorite contestants got voted off the show, you threatened to go home and dramatically tried to walk off the set. Thank goodness your fellow judges lured you back, just like parents who have to convince their kids not to run off whenever things don’t go their way. You looked so silly that I think my own kid might think twice the next time he considers storming off. Ha!

I know it probably sounds like I’m angry; I’m really not. Admittedly, I was irritated by your antics early on the season – but now I really am grateful because I’m able to turn your lapses in judgment into teachable moments with my son. This over-the-top persona of yours is great fodder and provides context for our talks about manners and respect.  I must say, we have also seen glimmers of kindness and generosity from you during the season, which has inspired talks about making positive choices, too. (Given that American Idol is one of the most-watched TV shows by kids ages 2-11, I just hope most kids watching also have a grown-up around to point out the good, the bad and the ugly.)

So thank you, my little ladybug, for helping me be a better parent. I’m obsessed with you – and hope that when you have impressionable kids of your own, there will be a role model like you to help teach them right from wrong.

Love & Light,