What We’ve Learned

Really, this isn’t turning into a Miley Cyrus blog.  I don’t plan to bring it up again.

I’m still not entirely pleased I was put in the position of having to explain this situation to my kids.  But motherhood is generally all about being put into sticky situations, for one reason or another, and I tried to make the best of it.

The talk, actually, went quite well. We discussed how people can get carried away to the point of making horribly bad decisions.  We talked about how money and fame will never buy good judgment (and usually seems to produce the opposite).  We talked about how poor choices bring heartache today, tomorrow and even years from now. 

I really felt like they got it.  They’re shocked and disappointed–and that breaks my heart–but it’s not an entirely bad thing for tweens to see, front and center, the consequences of bad judgment.  And it’s not entirely a bad thing that I got to teach my kids how to process this situation using our family’s filter, not the world’s. 

Teachable moments sometimes appear in the strangest places.  A conversation that I dreaded turned out to be very fruitful. 

In the meantime?  I’m praying for Miley and her family, and my kids are too.   We all should.

35 thoughts on “What We’ve Learned

  1. Julie Stiles Mills says:

    “Teachable moments sometimes appear in the strangest of places.” So true.
    I used Hannah Montana for (what I call) an object lesson very recently. I wrote about it in my Pragmatic Communion post entitled “taking every opportunity.” The link is on the main page of my blog under “Communion”
    I hope and pray that this is a lesson learned for the Cyrus family and that they will take a big step back and move in another direction.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I’m glad your talk with your children went well. I had a smiliar discussion with my daughter this morning. She’s almost the same age as Miley Cyrus, so we were able to talk in depth about how the wrong decision can come back to bite you. We discussed how to recognize (hopefully) and pray through those moments where you just aren’t sure what to do, and how important it is to be in prayer BEFORE something unexpected pops up…so that you will hear the Holy Spirit telling you, “That’s a REALLY bad idea!”

  3. Kaye says:

    Good for you for…you know…parenting. You could have easily looked the other way and hoped that the moment would pass them by, but we all know better. You took a bad situation that could have enticed your kids and used it as a lesson in your own values, as the world’s are not something to model your life around. That’s absolutely being a good parent. Great job!

  4. Liza's Eyeview says:

    Shannon, you are a wonderful mentor to us moms. ‘m glad you shared with us how you handled this situation. I like these words you talked about:
    “We discussed how people can get carried away to the point of making horribly bad decisions. We talked about how money and fame will never buy good judgment (and usually seems to produce the opposite). We talked about how poor choices bring heartache today, tomorrow and even years from now.”
    Thank you.

  5. pam says:

    Great job, Shannon. Thanks for your insight. I plan to do a similar talk with my pre-teen girls tonight at dinner. I appreciate your perspective and hope for such fruitful discussion amongst our family as well.

  6. tas says:

    What concerns me more than the picture of Miley is the picture of Miley and her FATHER!
    Society has made stars (even 15 year old stars) into objects, sexual or otherwise. That’s not right. But we buy into it….pack sacks, posters, clothing etc. WE let the 15 year old stars turn into something they are not. Advertisers have pushed the envelope as far as they can and every magazine displays hundreds of photographs of scantily clad young, young, young models in sexually explicit poses to sell their clothes. And we buy it.
    Does no one see the sexual energy in the joint photo? THATs not right. Fifteen year old girls don’t take photos like that with their fathers. That pose makes a great engagement photo….

  7. Llama Momma says:

    The grace that you handled this with makes me less afraid of the tween years.
    I guess it’s just a reminder to me that God’s grace will be enough when I get there.
    And that’s a good thing.

  8. Mary says:

    I can’t help but blame her parents for this mess. They were there. They saw what was going on and yet they didn’t stop it. I’ve been reminded this week of seeing Miley and her father on Oprah a couple of months ago. In speaking about how close he and Miley are, he said he wants to be her friend. I screamed at the tv that day and I’m screaming it now. Billy Ray, you are her father! A father protects a teen while a her friends generally leads her astray.

  9. Karen says:

    My 7, 9, and 12 year-olds don’t know about this yet. I’m not bringing it up. But my 16yo daughter and I talked about it. She was surprised by the picture, but now that I’ve seen it, it’s not so much her state of dress/undress that bothers me as the picture as a whole (pose, facial expression, the picture with her dad). It would have been possible to keep her in the exact same clothes/sheet and take a shot that looked much less sexual in nature. And the picture with her dad could have been one that looked more as if they were happy being together than as if they were just models being told how to pose.
    All that being said, it is my deepest hope that folks will get past this and stop crucifying her and/or her parents for making a bad choice. I think they are seeing where they erred and maybe if given the chance to go back in time, would choose differently. One bad choice does not a sl*t make, and harsh criticism, rather than gentle admonition and encouragement, is not likely to help things.

  10. Deidre says:

    Teachable moments are sometimes difficult. Not long ago, I was able to have a conversation with my 6 year old (about Miley) and telling her that a human being will never be able to handle worship and praise only meant for our Heavenly Father – only He can stand to be the object of our true affections. Eventually a human will fall. I haven’t explained things to her yet, but plan to.

  11. allysha says:

    They are a showbiz Hollywood family. I think a lot of people who end up there can easily have their perspectives warped about what is good and acceptable. Sadly, my guess is that the Cyrus family will learn from this as a marketing mistake and not a lesson in morality.

  12. Robinznest says:

    I SO hear you! I blogged about it too. It makes me sad and mad and angry and burdened. I’m glad you talk with your kids went well – beauty does come from ashes you know.

  13. Melissa says:

    I remember the big stink when President Clinton’s “indiscretion” was being spoken of openly on the evening news. The news media was NOT discrete about using a bad term.
    I tried very hard to keep the news off during that time. One evening, during dinner, I forgot to turn the tv off and I ended up scrambling for the remote.
    One of my kids (14 and 10 at the time) looked at me and said “We already know what (bad term) is.” I’d been pretty open with my kids about sexual issues, condoms, AIDS and premarital sex, mostly because I didn’t want them to make horrible mistakes. However, we’d never discussed particular practices in detail (EWWW).
    That night, we did discuss things in way more detail than I thought they were ready to handle. It turns out that it was the right decision for us, but I’m angry that the President of the US made it necessary.
    Good job, Shannon, for actually stepping up to the plate and discussing this with your kids! 🙂

  14. Nicki says:

    I’m finding it interesting that some are putting all of the blame on the parents, Disney, and others in the business. Yes, there were bad choices made on all of their parts. However, let’s not completely pass the buck. Her parents made a bad choice. Just as some of the parents who have allowed their kids to get all wrapped up in all of this HM craze have made a bad choice.
    We can’t go to the world for entertainment, then be shocked and disappointed when it lets us down and puts us in a position to have to deal with something uncomfortable.
    This doesn’t mean that we should shelter our kids from any chance of being offended or seeing something that goes against our own morals. Although, I think that we should monitor it closely and set strict limitations until they are ready for it. At the same time, we should be prepared to deal with it if/when it does go awry.
    Isn’t that what our goal should be in raising our children? Teach them to be on guard to all that they see and hear. To question all that they do. (Be that, what shows they watch or how they pose for a photo.) Teach them how to make good decisions.
    Then, if the choice they make ends up not being the right one, making sure that they accept their own responsibility in it all. Learn from it and then use that knowledge to make better decisions in the future.
    I think that everyone (including the parents here) need to own up to their part in all of this. Take responsibility for their part in it, learn from it, and carry on.
    Goodness. Why do I always think the soapbox in the room is mine to stand on? Sorry.

  15. angela says:

    This is a picture. Of a 15 year old girl looking innocent and vulnerable. It is artsy. It came across more sexual than ANYONE intended.
    This is not a sex video, this is not a picture of her kissing or doing ANYTHING to anyone else.
    This entire situation is being blown out of proportion and THAT is the problem. Oh no, instead of talking about the tornados that just devestated VA or shark attacks at area Florida beaches or the fact that the Marines are on a mission against the Taliban or a million other important news stories that SHOULD be discussed – no, everyone is making a big hoop about an innocent girl having a picture taken.
    What a sad world

  16. motomom says:

    My kids are a bit older, 12 & 13. They are at an age when they chafe at any form of parental authority or (perceived) control. However when a situation like this comes up our discussion turn to, “Would you rather us be “mean” parents or permissive parents. Everytime the answer that they decide on is “mean” parents. Yes, they do have friends who are allowed to do things that our children are not – movies, music, activities, etc. While the kids want the ability to chose they also find security in knowing that we will set boundaries and we are sheltering them from a world that asks kids to grow up way too fast.

  17. Kim Heinecke says:

    And today the media interviewed some 9/10 year olds asking their opinion…”I didn’t see anything wrong with it” they said.
    OF COURSE YOU DON’T…YOU’RE TEN. The invisible me screamed this at them.
    Oh for the love…

  18. Tori says:

    The photo is hardly innocent.
    However, there ARE more important things to be mindful of.
    When are we going to stop being shocked by anything that comes out of people involved in the entertainment industry? I don’t care how “nice” Billy Ray is, or how “wholesome” HM is. It’s Hollywood. It’s acting. They are not for real. Do not confuse the roles with the people.
    Wasn’t Jessica Simpson from a “good Christian home”? Father a minister, blah, blah, blah.
    If you want to give your daughters some healthy role models, turn to great literature, NOT the Disney Channel!

  19. Karen says:

    Good for you. I’m thankful my girls are older and not enthralled with her to begin with. I’m less disappointed with Miley than I am with her dad. He should be hog-tied and beaten. Severely.

  20. that girl says:

    you know, I tried. My kids said, “what about the first amendment?” “what’s the big deal?”
    I subscribe to VF magazine. I plan to grab it from the mail and keep it out of sight. I want this one to fade away as quickly as possible. It’s so sad, the way history keeps repeating itself at the Disney channel!

  21. Jane says:

    That talk was so important and so is your sharing it here.
    I was just watching the Today show this morning and one of the features was about teen girls sending sexy pictures to boys via the internet. As we know, once on the internet, forever out there. Still, so many tweens/teens do not have parents who are tuned in. Hopefully today you encouraged another parent to have the same conversation. Even though most of your readers are Christians and think this could never happen in their houses, it’s still such a must have conversation. It’s the only way to defend our girls from the onslaught of negative media influences.

  22. distybug says:

    We went through this when Lindsey Lohan got arrested or put in rehab or whatever bad thing was happening at the time. (Not that we idolize her, but she was the one in the spotlight at the time.) My 10 year old daughter and I watched as the news covered her downfall. After a few days worth of coverage, my daughter said, “Boy, Mom. She’s made some really bad decisions.” I was so glad that SOMETHING I was saying was getting through. It’s really sad what these gals are doing to themselves.

  23. Mommy Brain says:

    I’m relieved that my son is only 4 months old, so I don’t have to explain this to him any time soon.
    I am embarrassed to admit that I only recently figured out that Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana were the SAME PERSON. I guess I’ll be paying more attention to the Disney Channel in just a few years.
    I do have to give Ms. Cyrus a little credit, at least, for admitting, in public, that her dad is the guy who revived the mullet, and for allowing him a spot on her TV show.

  24. Jeana says:

    It seems like it always goes this way for me. I dread having the conversation and then it turns out to be a really good thing.

  25. Heather O. says:

    The problem, of course, is that according to Annie Liebovitz, she and Miley sat down and specifically blocked out what kind of photo she wanted, and initially she called the photos ‘artsy’. It seems the whole thing was Miley’s choice, not the manipulation of a child. And let’s face it, she must know that she can’t be a wholesome teen forever. I’m not sure this was a firestorm not of her making. Seems to me she might have known pretty much exactly what she was doing–
    It sounds like you handled the situation pretty well. It’s always a good reminder that there are no good role models in Hollywood. It’s too selfish a place for goodness to really thrive.

  26. sarah says:

    my kids are way too young to even know who hannah montana or miley cyrus is yet. i’m young enough that i just barely remember who billy ray cyrus is. however, what i find ironic is that hardly anyone remembered who HE was until his daughter hit it big. i wonder how much THAT has to do with some of the decisions he makes as a parent for his daughter.

  27. dawn says:

    We should also pray for all the kids, who’s parents do not explain the world to their kids, but let the world do it.

  28. Justine says:

    Oh get a grip. It’s pictures… she’s not showing anything she shouldn’t be….
    I think everyone who reads more into an ‘artsy’ photo should be ashamed of themselves for presuming to know what the intent is…. Maybe it’s more sexual than she normally looks, but for goodness sake, IT’S JUST A PICTURE… it’s not PORN… She could be 16 and pregnant… she could be out taking drugs… she could be out breaking the law… but no – she’s just had some artsy pictures done by an amazing photographer… I’ve seen her more sexual with some of her dancing on stage recently – American Idol gives back? How about a little perspective?

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