When and why do kids go wild? I don’t know. But the wild doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s often a long road traveled by small steps that seem insignificant in the moment. A road paved with words like, “just this once.”
I’m sorry, but I’m sad about the Miley Cyrus incident at the MTV Video Music Awards. My kids and I, since I’m a teeny-bopper at heart, adored Hannah Montana. From the first show until the last. I remember Billy Ray when Achy-Brakey Heart topped the charts. He disappeared for a while then showed up as doctor on TNT. I’m not sure I saw the show, but I remember being glad for him. Not many people get more than one shot at fame. It seemed he was grounded and he wasn’t a quitter. Good for him.
Fast forward to another media outlet. The Disney Channel with his daughter. Welcome meteoric rise to fame for his young daughter. They seemed to wear it well – even prudently. But in the midst of apparently strict boundaries in their home, some “just-this-once”s began to cross their path. Some weren’t small. One was a precursor to the young lady’s VMA performance.
I’ll never forget watching her on the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards in 2009. (Granted, I had to go back to see what year. But it wasn’t hard to find. I googled Miley Cyrus ice cream cart) My young daughters coerced me into changing the station to watch Miley perform. It didn’t take much. She was so cute. An inspiration to so many. Apparently, she had won some ginormous award. But, rather than come up on the stage and accept, the show had her sing her new single – Party in the USA. Catchy fun song.
She pops out of a Airstream trailer with back-up dancers and starts to sing. Modestly dressed, she does a few moves I didn’t want my daughters imitating. Then, I scolded myself as a bit of a prude. I can’t help it. As a mother I see everything differently. I see with their eyes instead of mine. And not with their rational. But with rational eyes that know what’s on the other side of those moves when you get just a few years older. Anyway, within a minute, she’s making her way down the stage stairs when an ice cream cart is wheeled her way.
A strange ice cream cart. One with a stripper pole in the middle. I remember thinking … please don’t. Then she did.
I can’t begin to think how anyone involved in that show justified a 16-year-old dancing on a pole in front of who knows how many viewers. In disbelief I watched. I gasped. I felt ill. I wished my kids hadn’t seen it. I couldn’t believe that anyone on any production team could see in any way shape or form how such an unnecessary move could be danced in front of a teenage crowd while hanging on to a pole like it was every day normal. Her doing it made it normal. In fact, after that incident I actually stepped in to change direction of a tween friend who was over jumping on our trampoline. Party in the USA came on the radio. Mimicking began – because that’s what kids do. Then she grabbed one of the poles holding the net and started copying Miley. I adore that child, so I told her exactly what I had told my girls and wanted my girls to hear again.
“Please don’t ever do that on a pole. Dance moves like that communicate more than you realize. It brings images into the minds of people that aren’t at all equal to who you are. I know it might seem fun and harmless in the moment, but it sends a message that demeans you. And your are worth so much more than that. You are precious. You are priceless. Please don’t forget that. Come find me, I’ll remind you.”
Thinking about that awards show still makes me sick. But not as sick as this did at the time:
Hard to imagine they could fathom that in four short years, their daughter would flaunt herself in a disturbing sexual scene on a different awards show.
At the end of her Nickelodeon song, Miley thanked her fans, her producer and “my God in heaven who got me here.” To which my girls proclaimed to each other, “See?!!! She loves God.” I hope she still does. I hope deep down, somewhere she remembers/knows she has worth. That she’s precious. Priceless. Because I think that message has gotten lost somewhere along the way.
Here’s the deal: baby steps lead in a direction. For the Cyrus clan – maybe it began with a seemingly harmless ice cream cart. It crossed a barrier that made it easier to cross again – and again – and again. To the point of a display that shocked everyone.
Before judging, it might be worth stopping and assessing where we might be taking baby steps in the name of “just this once.” Do we say the same thing? One underage beer. It’s just a drink. All the kids are doing it. He’ll be prudent – just this once.. .. It’s cute dress. Maybe it’s a tiny bit short and form fitting. She never wears anything suggestive – just this once. … Co-ed sleepover? The boys and girls will be in separate rooms. Nothing will happen. Just this once… I’ve got to get an A. I can plagiarize a little. Just this once.
Except it just might shade gray some boundaries and make it easier to take an another step next time that leads to doors better left closed.
Seemingly harmless baby steps. Barriers crossed. Which may or may not lead down an undesirable path. For Miley, her worth has gotten lost somewhere in the midst of all those steps. Whatever accolades, inclusion in the popular group, acceptance, … fill in the blank – it’s not worth it.
So, here’s to traveling these roads with our eyes open, heralding a very loud message along the way. “You have great worth. You are precious. You are better than a questionable decision. You are priceless.” So much so, the “God who got (you) there” gave his life for you. Lest any of us forget. At any stage of our lives.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Kay, well said. Thank you for teaching the teens around you they are of worth. So much of what this world teaches devalues women and the roles God has given us. Bless you in your efforts, bless us all in our efforts to keep our kids safe and trusting in Him. Family is what we are here for… it is really what it is all about.
Bravo! You said it better than I could have. And with love as well. Something went wrong somewhere and it was rather quickly. I was horrified to see her acting that way on stage.
Well said…and so true – time for all of us to evaluate our own “just this once” words and attitudes… my heart is heavy for all of our teens, young people who are seen as commodities – we must demand better for our children.
You hit a homerun with this article!
Just this once. Just a small step. And then a pattern or rut can be formed. The rut may seem to be one of pleasure, but it can also have a heavy degree of guilt and shame accompanying it.
Sometimes that pattern or rut is also formed by things that are done to us – something that hurts or shames us. But the same negative feels can overwhelm us leaving us thinking there is nothing else we can do, no other place we can go. So we live up to, or down to, the negative image we have of ourselves.
Miley’s performances are ultimately her decision, but you have to wonder how much pressure has been put on her by the entertainment people. “Come on, do this and you’ll be even more popular.”
My heart aches for any young person, boy or girl, who achieves a degree of fame in Hollywood. It never seems to serve them well in the long run. How many innocent souls has our entertainment industry injured, even ruined?
I linked here from FB. Thanks Lisa Smith!
I came across your post from a friend. So very well said. Thank you.
Go Kay! You are right on. Thanks for writing this better than I ever could. I’ll be saving this one.
Best article/blog post I have read yet on the “Miley incident”! Many question her parents, others judge Miley, several said they will pray for her and others want us to remember that it takes two to twerk (boy is that true!). But you take us back to the root of the problem which is where all solutions should start. When we realize our worth in God, it effects everything. Brilliantly written and certainly convicted me to be even more purposeful in my parenting than I already am. To parent is, I believe, the highest calling of all. And to do it well takes off-the-charts tenacity, courage, discernment and, most of all, a complete dependence on God.
What a great writer you are! I love your perspective on this–like the frog in the boiling water phenomenon. What a great challenge for our kids to think about!
Completely agree. Just how Satan works…getting us to take little baby steps, giving in an inch, believing it’s no big deal and before you know we are full-blown in it. My prayer is that God would show me where I am tempted to fall prey to this in my own parenting and life. Thank you for the reminder.
This article is equally as good. From the view of a father:
As the antitheses of Miley, I would recommend this 9 minute video by Jessica Rey – The evolution of the swim suit on YouTube.
Fascinating stats from a study at Princeton about how a man’s brain works related to how women dress (or lack dressing). Nearly a million people have watched Jessica’s talk at the Q conference and I think every mother of a girl should watch – better yet – maybe the daughters should watch? Your call as a mom but I recommend the talk to every mother of a daughter. Jessica is fashion designer who is trying to bring modesty back in fashion.