Parenting a Teen Idol

Yesterday, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly posted a very heartfelt blog about Billy Ray Cyrus, the father of actress Miley Cyrus.  Chances are, even if you’ve never watched an episode of Hannah Montana, you’re familiar with this teen star.

I remember four years ago, at my son’s (Christian) school’s talent show, most of the girls between 2nd and 6th grade who performed sang a Hannah Montana song.  Miley and her Hannah Montana character was obviously dearly loved and looked up to by these young girls–whether or not she wanted to be a role model– she was marketed and accepted by kids and parents as a role model.

Over the last couple years Miley has been tabloid fodder due to some rather poor choices on her part. Scantly clad in several magazine photos; a strip tease-type performance at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards; and the newest scandal to hit the media–a recent You Tube video showing Miley taking hits off a bong.

Miley Cyrus just turned 18 last November.

She grew up entrenched in an industry that consumes youth and innocence and replaces them with unyielding temptation and a sense of entitlement.  Add to those the media driven illusion that a teenager is capable of making decisions without the need of parental involvement, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster!

Did I mention parental involvement?

In this interview Billy Ray was humbly honest about failing to be the parent Miley needed during those pivotal years, and had instead tried too hard to be her friend.  He openly regrets some of his parental decisions (or lack of…) in dealing with his teen idol daughter.

From an interview with GQ Magazine, Cyrus says, “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.”

Few of us have ever had the colossal task of raising a teen idol.  I can’t even imagine what it was like for Billy Ray and his wife during these years in the constant spotlight.  It does make me think of Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Unlike the vast majority of the public who sit back and throw barbs at the Cyrus family, I would rather be a bit more introspective and forgiving than judgmental.  I would rather pray for their wisdom, even now–than bash their lack of parenting back then.   Because, honestly, we all make parenting mistakes.  It’s just that ours aren’t splashed all over the tabloids for the world to criticize.  Thankfully!

As Christian parents, how do you raise God-fearing, level-headed teenagers in the days we are living? How do you give them enough freedom to make their own mistakes and hopefully learn from those mistakes– but not too much freedom that it ultimately causes them to crash and burn?

It’s a delicate mix I would assume.

How do you use the Bible as a light unto your (parental) path? Let’s discuss this…

You can follow Lisa on twitter @lisastrnad and she blogs regularly at talking like a girl.

Comment on a post

Tough questions with no one obvious correct answer. I believe kids learn from example not from verbal direction. Surround your family with people with great values and find a church family that encourages your family. I wish I would have been a better example to my kids when they were growing up. I still scribe to the parent role with my grown children. Although different from when they were toddlers or teens - I am still the mother, not just a friend. I love the relationship I have with my kids now, although I look back and would change many, many things. I hope my children make their own mistakes and don't repeat mine. Thank you God for being in control! I am praying for all parents, everyday.