Billy Ray Cyrus is famous for at least two reasons: his hit song Achy Breaky Heart, and his handful of a daughter, Miley Cyrus (sometimes known as TV persona, Hannah Montana). Unfortunately many people would argue that both were a disaster
While Billy Ray may not feel that way about his 1992 hit, he does seem to feel that way about his daughter. It seems dad is not too crazy about how his daughter is turning out, and he is now expressing regrets about his parenting style. In an interview in GQ magazine he says he made many mistakes along the way, including trying to be a pal to Miley instead of a father:
“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.”
He now deeply regrets pushing her into fame and fortune. He says this about the Hannah Montana TV show that he and Miley co-starred in: “You think, ‘This is a chance to make family entertainment, bring families together …’ and look what it’s turned into.”
He continues, “The [expletive] show destroyed my family. I’d take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just everybody be okay, safe and sound and happy and normal would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”
He fears she is heading down the same destructive path as celebs like Anna Nicole Smith. But like many self-destructive young stars, such as Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen, the question is: Is it too late to now turn thing around?
She is only 18, but already she has moved down a path which is not only dangerous, but very hard to recover from. A number of commentators have spoken about her situation and that of her dad. Kathryn Lopez writes about “The Importance of Fatherhood”.
She says, “From the piece, we learn about Cyrus’ divorced parents, and that he had two women pregnant around the time Miley was born. But apart from exposing a mess of a story, the interview ought to serve as a wake-up call to all men who have given up hope on their families, thinking they have failed at fatherhood.”
She quotes Glenn Stanton, author of Secure Daughters Confident Sons: “Billy Ray needs to gather his courage – man up – and do what his heart is screaming at him to do … He, like all dads, needs to saddle up, ride in and be the protector of his daughter from a predatory world. And I am not talking about being overprotective; that’s not helpful either. But as Billy Ray explains in the profile, he has only been riding in after the damage to mop up the mess. That won’t do, and it hasn’t. His daughter needs him, even if it seems she’s sending the message that she doesn’t.”
In his column Doug Giles is even more firm: “I can’t imagine watching a video of my 18-year-old daughter on TV, high as a kite, sucking on a bong, speaking gibberish, posing for semi-nude photos and laying all over a bunch of tweenage horndogs attempting to imitate an episode of Skins while knowing that there’s pretty much nothing I can do about her bad behavior but talk to Jesus and weep.”
Dad should have known about the hellhole that is Hollywood: “Those diphthongs in Tinsel Town don’t give two flips whether or not you and your kid live or die as long as their checks clear. Therefore, as you well know by now, they’ll push your kid and others to take kiddie porn pics, grind a pole at a Teen Choice award, and shack up with a Justin Timberlake wannabe for PR.”
He offers seven pointers, the first two being;
“1. Fame is BS. You can have it one year and be a drunken alley cat the next. So when it comes to your kids, focus on longevity, character, excellence, righteousness and true grit. True success is the business of greatness. And fame? Well, to be famous nowadays all a decent-looking girl has to do is get a boob job and sport the willingness to flash her va-jay-jay when she gets out of her car on Rodeo Drive. If she does that then BOOM! She’s a star!
2. If you, parent, put your little kid into the entertainment industry then you need to have your head examined – especially the inbreds who’re pushing their tots into kiddie beauty pageants. Lord, have mercy.”
And Jim Daly of Focus on the Family offers this wise advice: “Very few parents are faced with the challenge of parenting a teen idol, a tough assignment to be sure. But what about the rest of us? Although we might not be trying to navigate stardom, we do have to navigate and manage human nature. Mark my words. Our kids will inevitably push the envelope and test the waters. It’s normal and natural to do so. Subconsciously many of us are wondering just how far we’ll allow them to go. Despite what they might say or how they might act, they want leadership.
“Now a reality check. We all like to be liked. If it’s human nature for a kid to push, it’s human nature for a mom or dad to want to be favorably viewed by our kids. But here is the big question: Do we want to be their best pal – or their parent who often has to hold firm and say “no” when they desperately want us to say “yes”?
“Here is your charge. Here is your challenge. Your kids have plenty of friends, maybe too many. But only two people in the world can really be their parents. Step up. Be parents today and the friendship with your children – a real friendship – will grow into adulthood and likely last throughout your lives.”
Being a parent in today’s world is hard enough. Thankfully most of us are not parents of pop culture icons or wannabies. But we are all faced with the challenge of keeping our kids on the straight and narrow while the surrounding culture is going to hell in a hand basket.
The sad story of Billy Ray and Miley should serve as a warning to us all. One of the most important things in life is to be a good parent, and to turn out good kids. Everything else is just secondary really.