Even if you don’t follow pop culture, you’ve inevitably read or heard of the teen actress Miley Cyrus. Playing the wholesome character “Hannah Montana” on her popular Disney television show of the same name several years ago, Miss Cyrus was catapulted into entertainment’s stratosphere. She quickly became a marketer’s dream and was earning millions of dollars in TV, music and feature films. In the midst of her rapid ascent, though, she also found herself wrapped up in controversy, from being caught posing for provocative photographs to smoking a bong and taking hallucinogenic drugs.
Just another child actress given too much too soon?
Miss Cyrus, now 18, is the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, perhaps best known for his hit, “Achy Breaky Heart.”
Ironically, and sadly, that’s exactly what Billy Ray is suffering from these days. He told GQ Magazine that he now wishes his daughter never went to Hollywood and found fame and fortune.
“The [expletive] show destroyed my family,” he told the reporter. “I’d take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just everybody be okay, safe and sound and happy and normal would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”
Billy Ray and his wife, Miley’s mother, Tish, filed for divorce this past fall.
As you would expect, back in 1992 when Miley was born, neither Tish nor Billy Ray thought things would take such a sad turn. In fact, when their daughter was born they named her “Destiny Hope” because they were so confident in the brightness of her future. Those early years were, indeed, happy. As a little baby they nicknamed her “Smiley” – later shorted to Miley – because she always had such a wide and carefree grin.
But those days are long gone, and her father is not only grieving their passage but regretting his actions (or lack thereof) as a father. Again, from the GQ interview:
“How many interviews did I give and say, ‘You know what’s important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids’? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, ‘You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.’ Well, I’m the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough–it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt.’ I should have, but I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere.”
Very few parents are faced with the challenge of parenting a teen idol, a tough assignment to be sure. But what about the rest of us? Although we might not be trying to navigate stardom, we do have to navigate and manage human nature. Mark my words. Our kids will inevitably push the envelope and test the waters. It’s normal and natural to do so. Subconsciously many of us are wondering just how far we’ll allow them to go. Despite what they might say or how they might act, they want leadership.
Now a reality check. We all like to be liked. If it’s human nature for a kid to push, it’s human nature for a mom or dad to want to be favorably viewed by our kids. But here is the big question: Do we want to be their best pal – or their parent who often has to hold firm and say “no” when they desperately want us to say “yes”?
Here is your charge. Here is your challenge. Your kids have plenty of friends, maybe too many. But only two people in the world can really be their parents. Step up. Be parents today and the friendship with your children – a real friendship – will grow into adulthood and likely last throughout your lives.