“The damn show destroyed my family.”
You would think he’s referring to “Jersey Shore” or “Parental Control” or any other reality show that is so popular on television these days, but Billy Ray Cyrus is referring to something a little more tame: “Hannah Montana.”
The 49-year-old singer, songwriter and actor recently had quite a bit to say about his family drama that’s taken over the tabloids. By saying his daughter Miley is “in a great deal of danger,” Billy Ray, in an effort to try to shift all responsibility off his shoulders and to those of the burdens that accompany fame, also is saying the public should stop blaming him.
While he is candidly decrying and mourning his most famous daughter’s actions to the press, Billy Ray Cyrus tends to omit one thing. He and his wife, Trish, are the ones who pushed for Miley to be a part of “Hannah Montana” from the get-go, effectively thrusting fame on the then-11-year-old.
Is the result simply a tragic story of a child who fell off the straight track, or is it because of bad parenting?
According to an international study of stress on adolescents performed by the National Institute for Policy and Educational Research in conjunction with Flinders University, lack of parental support and involvement in the proper way is one of three main contributors to children who exhibit problem behavior. In the same way, parents who force their children to over-involve themselves at a young age must be there to help handle the stress and set limits, or the kids will turn to other methods of coping, resulting in behavior inappropriate for their age, as well as physical addictions and abuses.
Another major parenting taboo Billy Ray Cyrus has admitted to being guilty of is trying to play the role of the best friend and avoid drawing a line of when enough is enough. While it’s true that children need room to grow, they also need structure. They need to learn that not everything is appropriate for everyone and that some things are off-limits.
Miley has been torn to shreds by the media over her “pole-dancing” at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, but her father says he “took it, because I’m her daddy, and that’s what daddies do. Okay, nail me to the cross, I’ll take it…”
In addition to the lenient parental rules, Miley also is faced with intense stress at home as she leaves the show that has defined her for the past seven years and watches her parents go through a public divorce. While this in no way justifies her behavior, it does help to explain why turbulent parenting and lack of guidance at a young age can evolve into social, emotional and physical problems that will continue on far into adulthood.
As a parent, Billy Ray needs to learn the balance between “creative career license” and “you’re way too stinking young.” And while he struggles with finding the line, other parents would do well to take note of his actions.
Danika Scevers is a freshman secondary education major from Abilene.