Like it or not, parents, Miley Cyrus is here to stay. After her scandalous and much talked about performance at the Video Music Awards, this former child actress has proven that she is very much an adult. With her new music video where she sits naked gyrating on a wrecking ball braking records for most viewed on Vevo, it is clear this young woman is drawing a lot of attention. What kind of attention is she getting from your kids?
When her career began as sugary sweet, child-friendly pop star on the hit Disney channel show Hannah Montana, Cyrus established herself as a role model for young girls everywhere. But there were warning signs early on that this child star wasn’t always going to perform according to plan. Cyrus drew criticism from fans for appearing topless on the cover of Vanity Fair when she was only fifteen. No parent should be surprised at the trajectory her career has taken since.
After the infamous VMA display, the Parents Television Council issued a scathing statement and complaint aimed at MTV, but the responsibility to parent kids and teens as they are bombarded with these sexualized images stays squarely in the hands of, not surprisingly, the parents. So, how do you protect your kids from influences like this new and not-very-improved Miley Cyrus?
The pressure to fit in combined with the body-image driven trends being established by pop stars like Miley Cyrus can be corrosive to a teenager’s sense of self-worth. Parents can fight back by communicating with their kids openly about the pictures and images they are showered with on a daily basis. You may not be able to stop your teens from seeing videos like Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, but you can talk to them about how it makes them think and feel. Studies show that teenagers are more open to communication than parents might think.
When 30 percent of clothing marketed to children at major retailers have sexualizing characteristics, parents have to be ever vigilant concerning the products their children and teenagers buy. But just as it is impossible to guard your teenager’s eyes and ears from the things you don’t want them to see and hear, it can be just as impossible to always know what they spend their money on. You may not be with them all the time, but going with them to shop for clothing once in a while can be a great way to help nullify the effects of self-objectifying advertising. Don’t let the arguments or eye-rolling deter you from going with them. Again, communication is key. When you veto an outfit, explain why. Tell them that others may view them as less competent or less intelligent by the clothing they wear. Explain to them exactly why you aren’t comfortable with a certain piece of clothing. Their maturity in these instances may surprise you.
Above all, the important thing to remember when it comes to the Miley Cyruses of the world is not to panic. Taking an authoritarian stance with a teenager can have opposite the intended effect.
Teenagers will always find ways to rebel while still fitting in with their peers. Sometimes the best thing to do is to have a cool head and allow them to figure things out for themselves.
As creepy and gross as it is, influences like Miley Cyrus and pop stars like her are here to stay. But your teenagers have many influences in their lives. Just make sure that you are one of them.
Written By: Danyelle C. Overbo