Miley Cyrus presents parenting dilemma
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
May 26, 2010

Miley Cyrus presents parenting dilemma

Miley Cyrus presents parenting dilemma
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
May 26, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Miley

Cyrus transitions from her Disney image as Hannah Montana to the teenage star

of racy music videos, parents whose daughters revere her are left with a

dilemma: How do they explain to their children that Miley isn’t an ideal role

model? Is a talk even necessary?

Dannah Gresh and Vicki

Courtney, two mothers known for their guidance of young girls, each addressed

the topic on their blogs after the release of Miley’s sexually provocative

video for the song “Can’t Be Tamed.”

In an open letter to Miley’s

parents, Billy Ray and Tish Cyrus, Gresh acknowledged that in the past she gave

Miley room to make mistakes and encouraged forgiveness. But the latest video

crosses a new line.

“I wanted Miley to be the

one who would say no to the money-hungry industry that turns perfectly

adorable, talented young girls into common sex toys. You — her parents — were

my hope,” Gresh wrote May 12 at blog.secretkeepergirl.com. “That’s why I’m so utterly shocked at what appears

to be the parental approval you placed on Can’t Be Tamed.”

Gresh said Miley, 17, still

looks to her parents for direction and said in an interview that she reasoned

that the video could not possibly be too sexual because her mother was sitting

on the set.

Miley even acknowledged her

following, which includes hundreds of thousands of tweens, by saying, “A lot of

my fans have grown with me on the show, and I think (the video) is the first

step to growing up.”

“A girl doesn’t have to and

shouldn’t grow up to be what Miley portrays in Can’t Be Tamed. I’ve been on the

front lines of counseling sexually broken teenage girls for 12 years, and they

get broken by imitating the behavior they see in videos like this,” Gresh wrote

in the letter to Miley’s parents. “The media fuels behavior, especially when a

face as trusted as your daughter’s is showcased.”

Gresh said research

indicates there is a link between early sexual activity and the amount of

sexual imagery a child views in her formative years. The more the child sees,

the greater the risk of early sexual activity.

Also, research shows that

girls who are exposed to music lyrics, Internet content and picture-perfect

beauty icons in their tween years tend to be more likely to struggle with

eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem when they are teens, Gresh


“While the impact is not

immediate, it comes like a stick of dynamite to blow up everything you’ve

attempted to build into your daughter,” Gresh wrote on the blog. “One day you

have a bright little sixth grader, and the next you have a depressed ninth

grader with an eating disorder. What they feast on is what they desire to

become. But they can’t be the picture perfect, dolled-up Miley. Miley isn’t

even that. It’s an illusion.”

Gresh, author of the

upcoming book Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl, offered three pieces

of advice for handling the latest Miley debacle with young girls.

First, with

teenage girls only, watch the video and read the letter Gresh wrote to Miley’s


“If you’ve been fueling them

with the right stuff along the way, they won’t even need the letter to help

them think it through. My daughter Lexi, upon seeing the video, announced her

disappointment. ‘That’s just stupid!’ she said.

“Look at this as a great

opportunity to talk to your daughter about her self-worth,” Gresh said. “Remind

her that playing the tramp doesn’t attract the right kind of interest. Case in

point, the advertising community has discovered by way of research that sex

does sell, but it doesn’t sell brand.

“For example, if you use sex

to sell Kleenex, viewers tend to become more interested in product (tissues)

but they tend less to remember the brand of Kleenex. In general, when a girl

behaves like Miley in public places, she creates interest in product (girl) and

less memory of brand (insert-your-daughter’s-name-here),” she wrote.

For younger girls, rather

than watching the video with them, Gresh suggests saying, “Miley decided to

make a video that shows too much of her body in ways that I don’t want you to


“Your 8, 9, 10-year-old

should not see the video,” she said. “But she also should probably not be

plugged in to the Miley Mania until Miley decides to be a better role model.

So, talk to her and trust God to guide you.”

Finally, Gresh advised

parents to be careful with Miley’s heart and name.

“The goal is not to boycott

or vilify her. She is God’s precious creation and, just like us, will make some

mistakes along the way,” Gresh wrote.

“Take this as a teachable moment to point

that finger right back at yourselves as mother/daughter. In what areas of your

lives are you being careless?”

Courtney, author of 5

Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter, said that as mothers across

the country are throwing out their daughters’ Hannah Montana backpacks,

lunchboxes and T-shirts, Miley appears to be on the same path as Britney

Spears, who sacrificed “her girlhood innocence on the sex-sells altar of fame

and fortune.”

Like Gresh, Courtney advised

parents to put a positive spin on a difficult subject.

“It’s OKto be

disappointed over Miley’s actions,” Courtney wrote at vickicourtney.com. “But rather than crucify her (in the hearing of our

children), what if we instead acknowledge the video and what it represents

(aka: take advantage of a teachable moment) and shift the focus to examining

our own hearts and encouraging our children to do the same?

“What if we as parents set an example to our children by

stepping up and owning it when we ourselves are guilty of chasing after

counterfeit gods? Now, that would be radical, wouldn’t it? And rather

refreshing, I might add.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is a

staff writer for Baptist Press.)