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MIA: This one is going to be a doozy of a conversation at our place.

Joel
Joel

By MIA FREEDMAN

There are so many things I love about watching The Voice with my kids. I love that it’s a TV show that’s based on what you can do not how you look (LIFE LESSON: TICK). I love that everyone keeps their clothes on (TICK).

I love that the backstories of the contestants spark so many opportunities for interesting conversations about different personal circumstances; everything from being Albino to overcoming bullying, the loss of a loved one, dealing with a disability, mental illnesses such as depression…..SO MANY TICKS.

Same with the judges. We’ve had conversations about being gay, about Seal’s facial scarring, Joel’s tattoos, being a twin, Delta’s hair extensions TICK TICK TICK.

My 4yo son Remy is particularly taken with Joel. For a while he called him “The Tattooed Arm Guy” and from the moment he saw him he’s thought Joel is so very many shades of awesome.

I agree. He’s a passionate musician who loves his wife and his kids has a clear and sincere respect for women, he nurtures his artists both male and female and he has just enough of that larrikan charm to make him feel almost…..Australian.

So what did I think when I heard he’d been caught with drugs in his hotel room at the weekend? Relief when I heard it was marijuana and not a harder drug. Relief when I heard it was a very small amount so that he would only receive a caution from police.

If the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton – and pretty much every high profile politician since – can admit to having ‘experimented’ with marijuana in their youth, I’m hardly shocked or horrified when a rockstar does the same thing.

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I was also impressed with the way he quickly made a statement:

The statement Joel posted on Twitter.
The statement Joel posted on Twitter.

He was gracious, apologetic, humble and low key. Contrast that for a moment with the petulant arrogance of some OTHER visiting American celebrities who have stayed at the same hotel (I’m looking at you Kelly Osborne…).

Sitting with my son early this morning on the couch sipping my tea and flicking through the news on my phone, my son looked over my shoulder and immediately became excited when he saw pictures of Joel. “Look Mummy! It’s Joel!” Fortunately, he can’t yet read. But when he walked past The Today Show and an item about the drug bust came on the news, I dived for the remote control to hit the mute button.

I don’t let my kids watch the news but in a normal household where the TV is on and there are regular newsbreaks – ditto in the car when the radio is on – I have no doubt that he’s going to hear about it.

It's in the news
News tends to find your kids.
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The fact my 7yo daughter can read means it’s almost guaranteed.

Anyone who claims children should be kept away from such stories about popstars and sporting heroes who get into adult trouble has clearly never lived in a household with an actual child.

In 2013, unless you live in a yurt in Mongolia, news tends to find your kids, especially if it’s about someone whose name and face they are drawn to.

So what will I say to my children if they ask about Joel? I’ve thought about this today and here’s what I’ve come up with:

I will tell them that Joel had some medicine he wasn’t allowed to have and that he got in trouble. I’ll tell them that he had to leave the hotel where he was staying and he is really sorry and really embarrassed.

I will explain that sometimes adults do the wrong thing and make mistakes and that there are always consequences – just like there are for kids.

Had Eddie McGuire been on their radar, I could have said the same thing.

I don’t think they need to know much more than that. Kids tend to accept age-appropriate explanations for things they don’t understand (especially if they’re boys).

Do I think he should be sacked from The Voice? God no. Absolutely 100% no. Because he committed no crime and there HAVE been consequences. I am still a huge fan of Joel Madden and I still think he’s a fine role model. Because even role models made mistakes and in the scheme of things? This wasn’t a big one.

This was originally published on iVillage.com.au here.

How do you talk to your kids about difficult issues they see in the media?

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