High Hopes

I’m pulling for Miley Cyrus.  I really am.

(And if you don’t know who Miley Cyrus is, follow the sound of the screaming ‘tweens.  For where two or more ‘tweens are gathered, there is likely a Hannah Montana t-shirt or poster in the midst of them.)

Her show on the Disney channel is beloved of millions, and it’s a good show–funny and clean and smart.  My boys watch it faithfully, and I even watch it with them sometimes.  I don’t begrudge them clean TV–there’s little enough of it.

When I heard that Miley and her dad were being interviewed by Oprah last week, I set the DVR.  I wanted to see for myself if this squeaky-clean teen was the real deal.  Would she be as down-to-earth as I’d hoped?  Was her family as close-knit as I’d heard?  Because, I have to admit, I’m skeptical that it’s possible at all for any kid–no matter how grounded she is–to emerge from that lifestyle as a functional adult.  It’s a very important part of a child’s emotional upbringing to learn that they are important, but they are not the center of the universe.  How do you teach that to a 14 year old whose face appears on bed sheets and spiral notebooks?

Anyway, I watched the show, and Miley seemed fairly grounded, though I’ll admit I was watching like a hawk for red flags.  When her dad was interviewed, he spoke of their tight family unit and their faith, but he also spoke of how he "wants to be her best friend."

NO, Billy Ray, please don’t be her best friend.  Leave that to other 9th-grade girls.  YOU be the guy that locks her little butt in her bedroom if she so much as looks at a nightclub. Please.

I desperately want this story to have a happy ending.  I want for Miley Cyrus to be a 25- or 30-year-old woman someday with a healthy life, career and family.  I hope she never sees the inside of a jail cell and that she never finds out what cocaine even looks like.  I hope she’s paying close attention to Lindsey and Britney and learning–really learning–from their mistakes.  I hope her parents are watching her, very closely, and I hope they have courage to love her in the way that says "I will always do what’s best for you."

I hope all this for her sake, but for the sake of all the kids watching her.  And, I’ll admit, I hope all this with a healthy dose skepticism, having seen what so often happens to child stars. 

What do you think? 

65 thoughts on “High Hopes

  1. devin says:

    I’m with you on this one. My kids and I (and even hubby!) watch her show and really enjoy it. Here’s hoping she doesn’t follow in Britney’s footsteps…so sad.

  2. Jeni says:

    I can honestly say that my parents were NEVER my best friends growing up. I think I was grounded more than free from ages 13-15. But that’s the way it has to be, and it’s a strong biblical principle – the wildness must be disciplined out of children if they are to be mature. I hope that her dad was meaning more that he always wants to show his love for her, not that he’s trying to be buddy-buddy.

  3. Queen B says:

    I watched them on Oprah and was so concerned when I heard him say that about being her friend. Billy Ray…not a good idea. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders, but so did some of those other girls at this age. I’m pulling for her, too, though!!

  4. jenny says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly! I’d love to see Miley turn out differently than so many others. We don’t get Hannah Montana on television, but we’ve seen it while at Grandma’s house. It’s a great show. I think it’s okay for her dad to be her best friend, so long as he knows when to lay the best friend card aside and just be the parent!! Best wishes to her, and I hope Miley will be different and be an encouragement to future child stars.

  5. Ronnica says:

    I totally agree. They seem to be doing a decent job considering her intense popularity, which probably can be attributed to the fact that her parents are using her to gain income and celebrity for themselves (his career already did that) like so many parents of child stars do.

  6. Qtpies7 says:

    I don’t follow her much, but I think she has seemed grounded pretty much. I hope he didn’t mean that he’d be her best friend over being her parent. I am close to best friends with my mom, but she still disciplined me as a teen. She wanted to be my best friend, but didn’t stop disciplining me.

  7. Kellyn says:

    I remember her on Jay Leno, talking about how she still gets grounded, even though she has such huge success. That made me feel so much better, and less concerned for this girl. She is an amazing talent, my kids love her. I can’t wait to watch her develop as an artist, and grow into her own.
    I agree that the parent can’t be the best friend, to a point. They have to be able to lay that aside and lay down the law. They must be able to see beyond what the child wants, and do what is best.

  8. Cheri says:

    We’re fans around here too. I don’t know how you escape that kind of stardom at such a young age unscathed. I read an article in People (cause I’m all about high quality reading material–shaddup :D) a while back and it talked about how her parents have her on an allowance (granted it scaled much larger than say, my kids LOL), and how her mom is forever telling her about the latest ”fall” of some celeb. I think they are trying. I agree whole heartedly on the being their friend thing-and I suppose only time will tell how that works out for them. But with you-I’m holding out hope.

  9. pam says:

    Shannon~ All I can say, is “AMEN” sista. I am right there with you, and I yelled a similar sentence at ole’ Billy Ray while he was on the Oprah Show last Wed.
    None of us do our children any favors by trying to be their buddies. They need strong role models to follow and someone who is willing to suffer temporary angst and dislike in favor of long term respect and gratitude for being willing to set immovable boundaries for their protection.
    Your assessment was right on, and I plan to step up my prayers for the family Cyrus.

  10. Anonymous says:

    She seems to have a good head on her shoulders…I’m with you..I hope she ends up okay….better than okay I hope she looks back on her life and says…wow that was a great ride…..I agree with you…if she can hang on to her faith through this God will protect her.

  11. sara says:

    I totally cringed when I heard him tell Oprah that he “wants to be her best friend.” I hope that he always remembers that he’s a dad first and that she is not always supposed to like him. I was impressed with most of what she said but I guess only time will tell.

  12. Tee says:

    I feel the same way. I’m skeptical though. And I saw some Hannah Montana Halloween costumes last month that were way too risque. I think Disney does what makes money. She’ll be clean cut for as long as it’s profitable and then they’ll push her to become sexy like what happened to Ashley Tisdale from Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Have you seen her new music videos? I was so completely shocked. It looked and sounded like Christina Aguilera. (Another former Disney sweetheart if I’m not mistaken.)
    I hope Miley’s parents are watching out for her, because Disney won’t be – that’s for sure.

  13. Cindy says:

    I read something author Karen Kingsbury wrote about meeting her… that her family has read Karen’s books; that Miley said the Bible is her favorite book, etc. And that while right now she is grounded and centered and has a strong faith, the arena she is in is SO tough and she’ll be needing our prayers! Here’s hoping Miley and her family will be a success story and a great example for YEARS to come!

  14. misschris says:

    I think I also read something a while back about Miley’s mom giving her a big NO on an outfit she wanted to wear to some awards show… mom thought was too risque for a 13 year old. I get the feeling she is getting more ‘parenting’ than these other girls ever did… You know, there are a lot of good girls out there, too, that *don’t* make the headlines. Look at Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway…. Great post.

  15. Chelsea says:

    I had that exact same thought when Billy Ray said he wanted to be her best friend. Then again, he does spy on her when she’s with her guy friends in the backyard. I think she’ll be OK.

  16. Melanie says:

    I hope so, too.
    I think that parents try to be their child’s best friend for the parents’ sake. What kid wants a parent as a best friend? They really do want discipline and authority with a huge dose of love. But the friendship comes later, after they have left home.

  17. Chaotic Joy says:

    Allie and I finally watched this today and everytime he said “I just want to be her friend” I cringed. And he just kept saying it. I think Oprah really wanted him to explain what steps they were planning on taking to prevent her from taking that path, but he never really did. I kinda wanted to shake him.
    But her parents do seem very involved in every aspect of her life. And she seems very close with them. I am pulling for her as well.

  18. Too Soon To Tell says:

    My daughter has an awesome close friend, but at 14, she still calls me her best friend. I’m still the mom, but she feels like she can trust me and confide in me like a friend. Everything I’ve heard about Miley’s parents points towards loving discipline. Sometimes when you have a child that loves the Lord, the issues aren’t that great. I’m hoping that is what he meant. Thanks for the thought, I’ll say a prayer for her tonight.

  19. Barb says:

    They have enough friends. They only have one dad… I thought the same thing. I think they’ll be okay, though. He’s done a great job so far πŸ™‚

  20. CanadianCarrie says:

    I watched them on Oprah last week too. I have a Hannah Montana crazed 5 yr old here. I was watching for the same things you were. And… just like you, the red flags came up when Billy Ray said he wanted be Mileys best friend. But, I’m not sure if he really meant it the way it sounded, I think he just wants to have the kind of parent/child relationship with her where she feels comfortable enough to to hitalk to him about life stuff and if/when she has a problem. Their family does seem very grounded, but you’re right, child stars usually go through alot of bad times in their lives!

  21. Gretchen says:

    Yeah, I’m sorry, but friendship and parenting are mutually exclusive until they turn at least 18. If not mutually exclusive, then at least parenting always has to win. Good post. I’m rooting for her too, especially since, like it or not, she is a role model for my 9 y.o. dtr.

  22. Haden says:

    I totally agree with. I hate that so many people have bought into the idea of enjoying the celebrities hurting themselves. I don’t understand why more christians don’t pray for these celebs, people whom every is watching.

  23. nap warden says:

    Well, I agree with you, and I did see her on Oprah. I hope she is learning from the mistakes of the child stars who have come before her…Time will tell.

  24. Misty Dawn says:

    I had to read this out loud to my husband. You see, he has always swore that the fact so many parents now-a-days are trying to be their kids ‘best friend’ is causing serious problems. He swears they are so worried that if they discipline their child, then their kid won’t like them anymore. You wrote this post wonderfully and I agree with every word of it! Thank you for letting us know that we aren’t the only ones who feel this way!

  25. Candace says:

    I’m with you on this one. They can be best friends when she’s grown – right now what she needs is a dad. I don’t know why so many parents want to be their kids best friends. I’m so glad that my parents didn’t fall into that trap.

  26. Jeana says:

    Exactly what you said. Although I have a hard time understanding why any parent wants that life for their kid. It almost never ends up well.

  27. Christy says:

    AMEN. Oh we LOOOOOVE Hannah Montana in this house. It’s the one show that doesn’t make me want to claw my eyeballs out. And I pray that her parents will keep her feet planted on the ground. I hope they’re pointing out all the stupid tabloid garbage & showing her pictures of Britney’s sub-par parenting skills and telling her all kinds of ways to avoid that trap. You’re so right. Billy Ray – don’t be her friend. Be her dad. Be her overprotective dad. Cuz you’ve got a fabulous young lady there and you don’t want to lose her.

  28. lisa h. says:

    you’re great! oh, i hope the same too, it’s got to be very hard. i love reese witherspoon, in an interview she said she would never let her kids act, until they were 18…i thought it was fabulous!
    i always think to myself, i am not my kids friend, i am their mom.

  29. Tina says:

    Very well said. I think we’re ALL pulling for this one! She seems so sweet…and I too had those thoughts, ‘flags’, about Billy Ray being her ‘friend’…you can’t be friends until you’re done with the ‘raising them’ part. IMO

  30. Staci at Writing and Living says:

    I agree with you.
    Over Thanksgiving weekend, Britney’s face flashed across the TV screen, and my bil and I discussed how it’s quite likely her parents wished they had a do-over. Miley’s parents have some examples of how bad things can go – I hope they are watching and learning.

  31. BLMOM says:

    Oh, we love some Hannah Montana around here. I hope Billy Ray parents her! I am skeptical also, though. With so many child stars gone crazy, it is hard to have hope. But especially for all the girls she is a hero too, I hope she proves me wrong. Nothing is like hearing about your child’s favorite star having taken nude photos of herself. (Vanessa Hudgens) It was not the exciting news I hoped my child would hear at school that day.

  32. jen at talking hairdryer says:

    I DVR’ed the Oprah episode also. The alarms went off loudly whe Billy Ray kept saying, “I just want to be her friend.” My parents were not my friends until I became an adult. Now, I cherish their friendship, but there is plenty of time for that when the parenting is done.

  33. Jenni says:

    Oh, amen and hallelujah to that!
    He can save the “best friend” part for when she’s safely all growed up.

  34. Melissa Markham says:

    I agree. We love Hannah Montana. You are right, it is hard to be a child star like that and have it not go south. The Olsen Twins, MaCauley Caulkin and others throughout time have struggled. Keeping Miley and her family in our prayers is the best thing we can do.

  35. Robin in New Jersey says:

    Definately hoping this one continues to be role model. I saw tht Oprah interview too. Her dad was watching her closely when she had the boy over! However…I saw something on TV a while back and I *thought* she said she has her own little house right next door to her parents? And I was like, “WHAT?”

  36. Kristen M. says:

    I’d be interested in seeing the statistics on how many former Disney stars are screwed up. I think Miley may have a slightly different perspective from growing up in a household that appears to handle fame well (her dad seems like a well grounded person). Most other Disney stars are unknown until they are groomed by Disney. It almost seems like some of their lives are controlled by Disney and maintaining that perfect image. I think the fame overtakes them and they are willing to do anything to stay in the limelight.

  37. Anna says:

    I love Hannah Montana myself. I read in USA Today over the weekend that over two thirds of American kids watch Hannah Montana. Isn’t that unbelievable? Millions and millions of kids. I don’t know how a girl COULD keep her head on straight. But Miley Cyrus does seem to have a good head on her shoulders and some common sense. I hope it carries her through safely.

  38. Mary B says:

    Shannon – I read this post yesterday and thought about it for a while. When your kids get older (my oldest is 11) you do develop more of a “friend” as well as maintain parent relationship.
    Case in point, when my daughter finished 5th grade I took her for a special mother/daughter event to get pedicures. It was my first and her first. Is that an event I would also do with a girlfriend? Yes, absolutely but those types of activities also give you a time to open up dialogue about many topics.
    I truly believe you need to be a parent to your children. But, you can also do “friend” type things with them as well. This offers many teachable moments.
    Parenting is always a struggle, and I to pray for Miley. It is nice to see the focus on someone else besides Britney, Lindsey, etc. We talk about the world they live in and the pressures they face.
    Sorry for the long post – but just had to say it πŸ™‚

  39. ValleyGirl says:

    I agree. Too many parents are too concerned about being friends with their kids. Their kids already have friends, what they need is good parents. The number of potential individuals to fit that bill is extremely low in comparison to the number of potential friends, so it’s important those one or two people realize that and make the responsible decision to parent rather than befriend.

  40. Veggiemomof2 says:

    From all I’ve seen (my daughter’s 10,so its been ALOT) and yes I do watch her show to see what my kids are talking about, her dad is strict with her. They have had a special bond since her birth. I hope he teaches her its OK to walk away from fame when it gets to be too much, like he did.

  41. bohgirl says:

    I agree 100%! I love Miley. It’s so nice to have a show that we can all sit around together and watch or I DON’T have to be on top of Bones to watch, to make sure nothing lude is said. The show is so cute and I think Miley is the real deal.
    When she was on Oprah, I honestly got goosebumps. Seeing how all of those kids li up made my day … and she responded like it made hers too.
    I really respect she and her father standing up and saying “Don’t buy tickets to this concert”, because of all of the scalpers and brokers swiping up the tickets.
    I think she’s good people and I really hope in my heart that she stays that way, for her sake and for the sake of all of the kids that look up to her.

  42. Heather@mommymonk says:

    I wonder if there’s a way to be a teenager’s close friend AND a good parent with strong standards and high expectations. Those years are still ahead of me, but I still consider my Mom to be my best friend (as an adult) though we had some stormy days when I was a teen.

  43. Michelle says:

    I don’t know much about Hannah Montana (except her face), but I hear you on the “best friend” thing.
    I’m not a parent yet. I was a camp counselor for five years, and the hardest lesson was that your first priority can’t be to make all your campers like you. A wise older counselor told me it was better to be tough on the first day and get to be nice the rest of the week, than to be all buddy-buddy the first day and then have to crack down later because the kids don’t see you as an authority figure.
    That said, I’m very close to one of my old campers–like sisters. But that didn’t happen because I tried to make her like me.
    Perhaps there are some similar principles in parenting. I hope to find out in a few years.

  44. Kendra says:

    I’m with you 100%. I cringe at hearing what those other girls are doing (I live in SoCal and hear about EVERY.STINKING.INCIDENT.). I wonder what their parents were thinking when they let things get out of hand. I hope the Cyrus family gets this one right!

  45. Mary says:

    The ‘best friend’ thing comes later when you are no longer responsible for their lives. How do you reach someone to tell them how awful that is; to try to be their child’s best friend? Hopefully, some Christian friend in their church will set him straight.

  46. Kirstin says:

    I totally agree with you. We are very picky with what our girls watch. They loved watching Mary Kate and Ashley when they were on full house, and now are only allowed to watch movies in which they were little girls. Same with Lindsay Lohan. Loved her in Parent Trap, but bummer on her life now. I try to talk to the girls about the choices these girls have made and why they can’t watch the movies with them as adults. They have watched Hannah Montana a few times and Suite Life of Zach and Cody (we don’t have cable so it’s mainly if we’re on vacation) and I try to watch it with them. Whenever they watch anything I make sure that we talk about any attitudes and if there is something that I’m not cool with, we turn it off. I want to see young actresses be successful, remain pure, love their families and make good choices, because face it, there are a lot of little girls that want to be like these girls.

  47. pinkmommy says:

    That jumped right out at me too. He kept saying it over and over. I wanted to scream, “She can have a trillion best friends if she wants them, she needs a DAD!”

  48. Mapper says:

    I cringed when she said he gave the dog the seat on the plane. What was THAT all about?!
    I like Miley too. My eight year old SON watches the son, and it reminds me of the kind of TV we all grew up watching on Friday nights. It’s innocent humor, decent life lessons for the most part. I hope she stays level headed, but in this day and age I fear for her. I think with two parents who profess to be Christians she may have a chance, but really the “wanting to be her best friend” comment may have just been a nervous dad taken out of context too. Just because Billy Ray is a big star doesn’t mean he doesn’t still fumble over words in a live situation. He may have simply meant he wants to have a good relationship with his daughter which is ok. It could have been his wording, it could be a red alarm who knows. Time will tell. For now, I allow my son to watch the show, but as with everything he watches, I watch it with him and keep tabs every so often. Just because Hannah Montana is ok today doesn’t mean it’s going to be an ok show tomorrow. So many shows build a fan base then turn once the stars get older. Excellent post to get us all thinking…

  49. Nicki says:

    I agree with you. Miley is like a breath of fresh air. I am so sorry for and tired of hearing about Britney and Lindsay and all the other young and troubled stars out there. I really hope she and her family can make it through the really hard times.

  50. Carrie says:

    I really think it’ll work out…I didn’t see the Oprah interview…I’m boycotting her…don’t ask. BUT I know I read some place else that he keeps her on an allowance and such. I think that’s a sure sign that it will work out!
    I was so glad to catch wind of the GOOD stuff here..I hadn’t let my kids watch Hannah Montana because I wasn’t sure of it…LOL!

  51. Catherine says:

    I was at first bothered by his stressing to want to be her best friend, but isn’t that what our heavenly Father desires to be for us, not only is he our friend/brother , but he’s also our “adonai” master/owner and our “kurios”, ultimate authority. You can have all in one.
    I thought she was adorable, I have no kids, but saw a lot of Hannah Montanas on Halloween – too cute.

  52. Amanda says:

    I, too, raised an eyebrow at the friend remark. I have previously wondered a bit if Billy Ray isn’t somehow living vicariously through his child. His career never really surpassed “B” status. He seems to struggle more with wanting fame than she does. I’m just ready for him to start dressing his age & perhaps brush his hair out of his face. To me the “friend” remark just fits with that whole M.O.

  53. fabthemayor says:

    I will let you know tomorrow. I had no idea when I agreed to let my 10 Y.O. daughter get a ticket for the H.M. concert, I would suffer a temporary lack of parental authority/skill/whatever else we are supposed to possess as parents. When the phone rang on the day tickets went on sale, it was the mom buying the tickets. They couldn’t get tickets to the Atlanta show (imagine that!) so was I OK with her going with the group. to Charlotte. in another STATE. to the HM concert. on a school night. requiring them to miss not one. BUT TWO days of school! Whatever was I thinking?? So as I sit here typing, my 10 Y.O. is four hours away from me (and her daddy) on a school night, screaming at the top of her lungs. She’d better remember this for the rest of her life!

  54. Jen says:

    I totally agree. Though I sometimes want my daughter to tell me I’m her best buddy, that’s not what I want our relationship to be primarily about! I enjoy our closeness, but I’d never want that at the cost of having to sacrifice my authority in my daughter’s life! I think that my job IS to make sure she becomes a young lady who loves her Lord, loves her family, loves her friends, and is thankful for who God made her to be. Then I pray our relationship will grow & evolve into a sweet one that changes with each stage of her life!

  55. Jill says:

    I completely agree with you.
    Something else that caught my attention (another commenter may have already said this) was her mention of losing her credit card. I hope she meant “debit card”. Why would she need a credit card? She has a lot of money, why would she need credit?
    I can hear Dave Ramsey screaming!

  56. Melody says:

    I know this is an older post, but I’m just catching up over here. Just for the record, I read in interview with the Cyrus Family, and the mom shows Miley articles about Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears all the time and shows her how stupid decisions can ruin your life. So yes, she is watching and hopefully learning what NOT to do! Also, I read that Karen Kingsbury got to meet Miley and that they really are a sweet Christian family and they even prayed together with Karen and her family before they left.
    I’m soooo hoping that Miley follows in the footsteps of Lisa Whelchel rather than Lindsay and Co.!

  57. GiBee says:

    I do know that Billy Ray Cyrus is a born again Christian. He stopped singing Country music when he rededicated his life to the Lord.
    I don’t know a single Christian parent that doesn’t make mistakes in their life raising their children, and while professing to be his daughters best friend may not be the best thing, we don’t know for certain how he actually “parents” his children. We don’t know how Miley Cyrus will turn out … only time will tell. But I will say this… In an interview* he did, Billy Ray Cyrus claimed that “…teachings from the Bible were instilled so deep inside me that no matter how far I would stray, I’d still hear that voice that said, ‘You have a purpose, you have a reason you were put on this earth, you’ve got to be the person God wants you to be.” I have a suspicion that BRC and his wife are trying to instill Biblical values and teachings in their children’s lives, and hopefully are working hard at providing a healthy, Christian parental relationships with their kids.
    I think that both Lindsay and Britney came from dysfunctional homes and broken family lives, whereas Miley seems to have a better family life. I also don’t think that either of the girls really had strong parental role models in their family unit. It is very sad how they have turned out.
    I pray that Miley does see better role models in her parents, and that as she gets older, she does remember the Christian upbringing that she is being given. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to grow up where drugs and alcohol are so prevalent, and I pray that she finds the strength to turn away from the temptations that Hollywood affords.
    Very thought provoking post, Shannon!
    * http://www.saworship.com/article-page.php?Page=index.php&ID=1026

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