Do I care about Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMA Music Awards? Hmm. Sure, its sad and worrying that a kid (because she is just a kid) not only feels like she needs to do this, but that she is being led by her managers down this path.
HOWEVER, the fact that society is outraged by and ranting about Miley’s VMA performance and pretending that there aren’t rows of hundreds of lifeless little bodies wrapped in white sheets in Syria, gassed in an apparent act of war (over politics, I can assure you, they had no idea existed nor had an opinion about) bothers me infinitely more.
Of course I get the whole pop culture obsession and, yes, there is a place for it. I just don’t think the front page of our newspapers is that place.
Imagine if we focused on the people who are getting it right.
Why not demand that news outlets feature stories about people like Jessica Rees, a little girl who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 11 and decided to start making and delivering JoyJars – containers full of toys, stickers, crayons, anything that might brighten the day of children suffering with Cancer. She personally created 3,000 of these jars before she passed away and by the end of 2012, more than 50,000 JoyJars had been delivered to young cancer patients through the Jessie Rees Foundation. You can donate to her cause here.
Instead of reading another story about a celebrity in rehab, why not read about Will Lourcey, who at the age of six decided to single-handedly combat poverty. He started FROGs — Friends Reaching Our Goals – an organization which he and his friends use to find fun ways to raise funds. He started with a lemonade stand and has now raised more than $20,000 for his local food bank and donated enough money to buy 75,000 meals for the hungry. You can watch Will’s story here and donate to his cause here.
It’s time to demand that we hear about kids like Cassandra Lin, a ten year old who decided she wanted to do something for the environment and help the less fortunate. She created Project TGIF — Turning Grease Into Fuel – an organization which collects used cooking oil from restaurants and homes, refines it and then distributes a percentage of it to families who can’t afford to heat their homes. So far, Cassandra and her team have collected 130,000 gallons of used cooking oil and donated $81,000 for the purchase of biofuel. This has amounted to 21,000 gallons of BioHeat distributed to 210 homes. These efforts have also offset 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from the environment. Incredible! You can watch Cassandra’s story here and donate to her cause here.
Maybe if we vote with our collective cursors and stop clicking on inane stories about twerking singers and opt to read about the inspiring acts and achievements of other human beings, news outlets will hear us.
We need to stop whining!
There will always be bad celebrity role models. Isn’t it partly our fault that they behave as they do, encouraged as they are by our idiotic clicking on every link to their most recent stunt? Miley isn’t responsible for raising our children. Let’s be honest, she has her hands full, growing up herself. Ranting and complaining isn’t going to make Miley or Lindsay or Amanda or Justin behave.
I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I watched Madonna gyrate in lingerie and do all kinds of… ahem… creative things with a crucifix. I witnessed Michael Jackson repeatedly grab his crotch and radically change his face. Did I prance around in a conical bra, get intimate with religious icons or try to remodel my own face as a result? Nope. Maybe I overdid it with the neon the fishnet and a failed perm, but that was it.
What I did do was ask my mother (loudly, in a supermarket queue…sorry, Mom) what a virgin was. We had lengthy discussions about appropriate behavior and boundaries between adults and kids. We discussed my changing body, sexuality and self-respect. We admired talent and appreciated art. I learned that stepping out of the Marsha Brady box was okay, in fact it was exciting and full of possibilities – but that venturing into crotch grabbing, conical bra territory was too far for me. I learned to live and let live.
We live in a world with royal babies and starving babies, philanthropists and conmen, chauvinists and feminists, racists and human rights advocates, religious icons and religious fanatics, kindness and cruelty, hatred and generosity, euphoria and despair. Much as we’d like our kids to never witness much of this, we simply can’t shelter them. Nor should we.
We need to acknowledge the elephant.
How about, instead of switching channels and pretending the elephant isn’t in the room, you stand by your child’s side and inspect the elephant? Use Miley’s tragic VMA antics as a starting point for a discussion about music and lyrics and the difference between life and art. Use it to talk about boundaries and public behavior. Use it to help your child figure out where she fits in and what she thinks her boundaries should be.
We need to stop hovering, to step back from the neurosis that the world is going to corrupt our kids.
We need to relax our jump to condemnation of people who are – to whatever extent – making massive personal mistakes in the public eye. Maybe, if we model empathy, we’ll be more approachable when our kids mess up.
We need to respect our children’s intelligence a little more and trust them to make good choices. They need to know that we trust their judgement and respect their ability to watch something like this without blindly aping every gyration and vulgarity.
We need to start acknowledging our own responsibility to help our kids to get up, dust off and try again when they make dumb choices (and they will, no matter what we say or do).
We need to give up this quest to continuously shelter them from a world that is so very imperfect. Wouldn’t it be better to stand by their sides and help them to make sense of it? To be the person that they look to for help as they try to find their place in this imperfection.
On my children’s journeys into adulthood, I know where I want to be.
Warts and all, this is our world. We can choose to explore and discover the wonders and horrors out there with our kids. We can opt to build a foundation of free discussion and an environment of non-judgement so that when they are faced with something we wish with all our hearts they didn’t have to see, it’s us who they turn to. It’s us helping them to find their place and define their beliefs, not some misinformed kid at school who may be heading down the wrong path.
Try it. I dare you.
If you’re outraged and mortified by Miley’s VMA performance, sit down with your kids (who may have loved Hannah Montana to distraction) and watch it with them. Show them instead of sheltering them. I’ll bet you that they’ll be as mortified as you are. Start the discussion, ask for their thoughts and watch their eyes light up because they see a parent who isn’t just a dictator but rather one who gets it.
ABOUT MICHELLE: Michelle is an award winning copywriter with 18 years’ experience in the advertising industry.
She is also the founder of theycallmemummy.com – a website for women (parents and non-parents, alike) covering a wide range of topics from parenting to work-life balance to mental health to fitness – the whole gamut. She was recently voted one of the 25 Voice of the Year Honourees in the “Inspiration” category at the BlogHer ’13 Conference in Chicago.
CONTINUE READING IN THE FAMILY ROOM