No Open Letter Needed. Just Conversation.

My news and social media feeds have been alive and well these days with chatter about Miley Cyrus’s performance at the Video Music Awards.

On both traditional and social media sites, it’s been all about the former Disney child star gone bad. I don’t need to link to it. If you’re reading this, you’ve been online. You’ve seen it.

Her name became a trending topic, and it busted previously held social media records, according to this and this. It’s been days since the awards show, and it’s still making headlines today.

Of course, I’m not surprised by any of this. Her performance had all the elements for an attention-grabbing “news” story, just as intended.

Yet the thing that did surprise me — or maybe not when I really think about it — was the way the blogosphere responded.

It’s just a little bit of hyperbole when I say that everyone wrote an open letter to Miley.

And if it wasn’t a letter to Miley, it was an open letter to their daughters about Miley.

Seriously. Check out the results HERE from when I googled “letter to Miley.”

All these letters contained similar sentiments. Many people expressed their shock and disgust — dare I say, righteous indignation — at the performance, or they offered advice to Miley about life, growing up, and femininity, or they wrote how sad/upset/angry they were having to explain to their children why Hannah Montana went rachet.

As the mother of two daughters, I get it. I do. But I can’t actually jump on the bandwagon and feel like Miley is a threat to them, and to so publicly declare such feelings.

Because she’s not.

In my mind, a ten-year-old classmate with an iPhone and no parental supervision is the real threat to my kid.

Miley is not.

She’s not even a role model to my daughters, nor was she ever.

Miley Cyrus was the actress who played the main character on a show they watched. In their dressers, there are faded t-shirts and bedsheets featuring the young, long-haired character. They know songs from the soundtrack and albums.

My girls know Miley Cyrus played Hannah Montana, and thanks to re-runs, they are still fans of Hannah Montana.

Yet, my girls don’t watch MTV.

They don’t watch the Video Music Awards.

And all it takes is one time for Mom trying to twerk in the family room for them to know that it’s a pretty ridiculous dance move. [I mean … that is … IF their mother tried to twerk in the family room, is all I’m saying…]

Yet, I’m not naive enough to think it impossible they’ll get a glimpse of a news clip, a YouTube video, a photo, a magazine cover, or whatever, showing them the newest look and feel of Miley Cyrus.

If it does happen, my response-to-query approach will mirror that of my parents, and how they responded when I asked my parents about the girl from E.T.

Ah, yes. I remember that conversation well. I was about nine or ten years old when I saw a magazine cover detailing Drew Barrymore’s stint in rehab.

One of the most recognizable baby faces ever.

From one of my most favorite movies.

One of my most favorite characters … in rehab?

I went straight to the people I trusted most.

My parents.

Of course, they knew the story.

But instead of writing an open letter to Drew, or swearing some type of violence to shield me from such nonsense, they talked to me.

We had a dialogue about the Hollywood fishbowl and the price of fame, about drugs, bad choices, and personal responsibility when under pressure, something they told me I may face later on down the road when I was older.

Truth be told, I didn’t really see how any of that applied to me at the time.

But I trusted that the things they were telling me were important to know.

Just as my girls trust me right now.

They’re still at an age when such faith in the things I tell them is immediate, and I take that very seriously. While Martin and I try to manage their media exposure as much as we can, we’re also raising them in live in a society where behavior like that is everywhere.

I can either clutch my pearls and scorn this particular behavior/incident, or I can actually live and react in a way that’s going to arm my kids with a value system that allows them to recognize legit role models, to gravitate to things and people that are going to be good for them, and to be weary of things that seem ridiculous, or silly in a questionable way, degrading to them, or bad.

And to avoid other ten-year-olds with iPhone cameras and Instagram accounts.

That’s my declaration.

I suppose in the next ten years, we’ll see if this approach works.

Or twerks.

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