While I haven’t always been a fan of Sinead O’Connor, this is a terrific open letter to Miley Cyrus – and frankly all young women. The only addition I would make is the culpability and complicity of parents in this awful trend.
From O’Connor: I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way ‘cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping.
Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.
EVERY young woman doesn’t behave this way. And EVERY relationship with teens need not be laced with passive aggressive FB status’ by frustrated parents. If you didn’t want parenting to be hard, to be a 24/7 job, then you shouldn’t have brought a child into this world.
Here’s my open letter to the Snarky Mommies who say not nice things about their children on Facebook and Twitter, brag about drinking away the stress of raising teenagers, especially girls. I’m not parenting a young man – so I won’t claim any expertise beyond common sense. But hey, if as you read this, the shoe fits… THEN LACE IT UP AND WEAR IT.
Stop acting like victims, stop teaching your daughters these horrible behaviors, and stop allowing others to teach them they are little more than a receptacle. Yes, you’ll have to make more sacrifices than you possibly could imagine. Yes, that means money. Yes, it means you won’t be going on “Girlcations” or to industry conferences to drink and flirt, and possibly bed, men you aren’t married to. Yes, it means that all that snark you use to fill up your Facebook and Twitter feeds with the travails of parenting isn’t an option.
Teaching our daughters to love themselves, to be aware of the realities in this world matters more than getting Likes for a “Mother of Teen” status. Perhaps if you weren’t degrading yourself or your relationship with your daughter, things wouldn’t be so tough. Cultivate friendships with women you admire, be there for each other – really. For personal stuff, for business stuff, for sounding boards on relationships and parenting advice and venting.
Young women are amazing. Ask yourself some questions. Don’t you want to be the one person she thinks to call first when a young man expresses interest? To teach her to drive? Gets her first job? Applies for university? Cries because someone hurt her feelings? When she fails at anything? When she contemplates exploring her sexuality? When she is offered a marriage proposal? Don’t you want to be the person whose house she comes to with a pregnancy test?
All of these moments and all the milestones along her life’s path matter. Being present at the beginning of her life, all the way through school, and helping her navigate pettiness and heartbreak, jealousy, disappointment, sportsmanship, academic challenges and triumphs, all these make up the beauty in any parent-child relationship. Do not wait to start parenting until your child is 13 or 14. Don’t assume you can buy her stuff or go get lunch twice a year and have a meaningful, trust based relationship. You are raising a precious expression of love. Of your own legacy.
Be the kind of mother you wanted. Not permissive but definitely open minded. Not controlling but with clear boundaries and consequences. Be the mother that she respects and admires, after all – you are the one who carried her in your belly or prayed for her arrival through adoption. Make sure she knows that she is a wanted child, one who improved your existence.
Who knows your baby better than you do? Nobody, unless you choose snark over love. Our children have the internet too. When you complain and talk about needing a drink, your children know you want to anesthetize yourself. From them, from work, from life, whatever. Is that really what you want your kids to do when they grow up?
A young girl desirous of love and affection will always find it. It’s your job to love her through it. No, dear girl, you are not hostage to your biology. No, my precious baby, this is not what love is. No, he doesn’t love you. Yes, he does love you but ask yourself – do you love him? Dream big, my sweet girl. Hard work creates opportunities, dedication and mastery of what you love will bring you success.
Love is what threads us all together. It should bind us to those we treasure most of all. But love doesn’t happen by magic alone. It happens when we value ourselves, our loved ones, and our shared path – for as long as it lasts – more than Birkin Bags and Girlcations. Take your daughter with you. Relax together. Laugh together. Learn together. As she reaches her teen years, let her take the reins a little – and if you’ve been there for her – you’ll worry less. You will have the confidence of knowing she doesn’t need you as much, she can make solid decisions on her own, and that she is by your side because she wants to be. Let her bring her friends into the loop, bask in the cool factor you created.
When she grows up and is gone, plan for it. Plan for the quiet but know your baby girl will come home. She’ll call with news, bursting to tell you. Know that as she charges ahead into creating her own life – she will prioritize herself and all the values you taught her. She’ll ask for that raise when she knows she’s earned it. She will stand up for injustice. She’ll be an educated voter and a consumer of news because you taught her to.
Basically, you have to remember how amazing you are. Even if you don’t always feel that way. Especially when you didn’t always have what you needed, or didn’t know what that was. Every mother has her own way, her own story. Find your own path but don’t let your babies fall prey to “everyone does it.”
Because everyone doesn’t.
Live right, be worthy, make a difference.