Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Miley & My Anxiety

This post was inspired by a vlog prompt over at Mama Kat's Losing It.  The prompt was to watch Miley Cyrus' video for her new song "We Can't Stop."  I thought it would be a funny little vlog, but it made me feel all sorts of anxiety and prompted me to write this post. Here's the vlog:

(If you're an email subscriber, click here to watch.)

When I was 13 years old, my middle school guidance counselor asked me to come to her office to talk. I went to her office.  I sat in the cold fake leather chair across from her and waited.  Waited to hear what I did wrong.  

"Well, I've noticed you have been wearing very short skirts lately," she said timidly.  "Why do you think that is?"

"Duh, lady, to get boys' attention, any boy, every boy. Geez," I said in my head feeling defiant. 
"I dunno," I said out loud while I looked down feeling shameful.

The guidance counselor continued to talk to me about proper clothes for school and said she was worried about me.

"You should be! I'm in trouble and I'm confused and trying to get attention every way I know how," I screamed, in my head.
"Uh-huh, okay," I mumbled out loud.

It wasn't just my short skirts and slutty clothes. This was before slutty clothes were really marketed to young girls.  I was just copying the girls I saw in Motley Crue and Warrant videos.  Yeah, it was the eighties.  It wasn't just that.  I was taking my mom's car at night to drive to boys' houses, I was quitting dance, band, softball and any other positive extra curricular activity, I was failing classes, getting detentions, disrespecting the world and myself.

The guidance counselor might have called my house and talked to my mother, I'm not sure.  But I am sure of a few things...I wish I didn't have to go through some of that stuff, but I am glad social media wasn't around to capture it all.  Because I was a mess, my family was a mess, my world was a mess.  But then it got better.  I still carry a few scars from my early-learning years, and not to sound too much like a Kelly Clarkson song, but I'm stronger.

I don't know if I would be singing the same song if my exploits were Tweeted and Instagrammed and Facebooked and Youtubed.  In fact the thought of it all makes me feel ill.  Imagining the comments my inappropriate skirts would get makes me want to cry.

My story is on the extreme side, not every 13-year-old takes their mother's car out for a joy ride while her mom's at the bar, again.  But how many girls (and boys) make mistakes, take stupid risks, say things that sound repulsive, disrespect the world and themselves?  And now we live in a world where these girls and boys share every minute, every mistake.

I have no answers, mostly just anxiety.  And fear for my own children who will be teenagers no matter what I do.

"Enjoy being a kid," I told Lucy when she showed me a dance that resembled a very inappropriate, yet popular dance craze.  "You have plenty of time to be a grown up and do grown up dances.  Right now, be a kid."  

I explained that I grew up too fast and I wish I would've been a kid longer (without any details).  This speech will only work for so much longer, they will want details, they will roll their eyes.

Watching the video from Miley Cyrus' latest song, makes me feel all sorts of things--annoyance, judgement, relief, anxiety,  compassion.  I also feel like I aged 30 years and became a conservative grandma in under three minutes--pursed lips, furrowed brow, etc.  

I don't want to judge Miley or her ridiculous video.  The scared mother part of me disapproves of her oversexualization.  The wounded, messed up 13-year-old in me is nodding a big "yeah, I get it Miley."  And then I read some of the comments and I just wish people would show more compassion and just not be so mean. Oh hell, then I go back to being the scared mother.  

I have no answers, mostly just worry.  
I will do my best to parent my children with love, compassion and boundaries and limits.  I will do my best to let them make mistakes, advise them not to share everything and teach them how to get stronger.  I will do my best.  And I will not let my 11 and 9-year-olds watch Miley's new video.

What do you do?  How do you set boundaries?  Do your tweens and teens share everything?  What do YOU do about cyberbullying and oh god, sexting?  


  1. yes, yes and yes. i will be over here, crying in a corner. let me know when you have it figured out.

  2. Ugh. I don't even want to think about it. I know that when we were growing up, just like now, there was a mix of positive and very negative role models. I just hope and pray that my kids listen to us and the positive role models more than the negative ones.

  3. I worry about all of this. My daughter has an "eager to please" attitude that I'm terrified will have her walking down a road she regrets. Unfortunately, I have no answers. Just worries.