Can TV Characters Teach Our Children It's Okay to Be Different?

Most kids love weird characters on television, and yet they spend so much time trying to hid their own "weird" traits in order to fit in.

My children think Urkel (Jaleel White) from Family Matters is hilarious. They can't get enough of his suspender-pulling and his whiney catch phrase, "Did I do that?" They also love Brick (Atticus Shaffer) from The Middle. His quirky look and mannerisms are somewhat enthralling to children.  And let's not forget the poster children for peculiarity, the nerdy SpongeBob SquarePants and his doofy friend Patrick. And yet my kids would never be caught dressing like Urkel, speaking like Brick or pulling strange stunts like SpongeBob and Patrick.

Still, I try to use these shows to remind my kids that it's okay to be different. My son has started to embrace this "we'd all be so boring if we were the same" concept, calling himself weird and liking it. My daughter is still trying to assimilate as seamlessly as possible, though she'll often unwittingly break into a Brittish accent.

While I'm not saying these characters need to be role models for our kids -- Screech (Dustin Diamond)  from Saved by the Bell was funny, but we don't want our kids emulating him -- I do think that pointing out television characters' idiosyncrasies may help teach kids that it’s okay to be different.

Who's your favorite oddball character? Chime in below!

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