In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the mistakes and lessons from Miley Cyrus and her father Billy Ray Cyrus who now claims the TV show destroyed their family.
First a quick update:
“Is addiction overruling your relationship?”
Read my insights and suggestions about how to recognize the signs of addiction (when it is time to take action and what steps to take) in the article on Treatment-centers.net – a public benefit addiction treatment resource organization dedicated to helping addicts and alcoholics recover from the devastating effects of drug addiction, alcoholism, dual diagnosis, eating disorders and co-occurring disorders.
Now, let’s talk about the lessons that can be gleaned from the experiences of Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley Cyrus.
Miley Cyrus is a pop-culture sensation – an actress and pop singer who became famous for her role as a teenager with a secret life as a pop star in Disney’s TV sitcom “Hannah Montana.” But it appears that in real life, Miley is out of control. Her relationship with her father has deteriorated; she’s been involved in various controversies and her father Billy and his wife Tish are divorcing.
The world around Billy Ray Cyrus is crumbling and he now blames the TV show:
“I’ll tell you right now, the damn show destroyed my family” he admits to Chris Heath of GQ magazine. And he adds that he now wishes the TV show had never happened. “I hate to say it, but yes, I do. Yeah. I’d take it back in a second…For my family to be here and just be everybody OK, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”
I have often spoken about the detrimental effect of Hollywood on child stars and their families and I have written about the curse of the reality show and how reality shows often lead to divorce. Hulk Hogan has also expressed his regrets over his TV show and the effect it had on his family and the subsequent divorce.
There is no doubt that being in show business, particularly as a child, creates all sorts of problems and can often swallow up and even destroy the very people who set out to entertain us. In a TV interview I revealed that “the child actor is forever perceived as a child but never had a childhood of his or her own – and this is the greatest tragedy!”
Watch the TV interview “Loss of innocence – Why child actors – celebrities suffer so much”.
It may seem obvious that a man such as Billy Ray Cyrus, who was already in show business (famous for his 1990s hit song “Achy Breaky Heart”) would have been aware of the dangers of fame and yet, he obviously never before stopped to think about the people who had already paid a dear price for fame.
Gary Coleman suffered most of his life; he was betrayed by almost everyone that was supposed to have loved or protected him. Dana Plato of Different Strokes had longstanding personal problems and committed suicide on May 8, 1999; Freddie Prinze committed suicide by shooting himself in the head at age 22; River Phoenix died of a heroin and cocaine overdose at age 23; Brad Renfro was found dead in his Los Angeles apartment at age 25 (the cause of death is still undetermined) and Andrew Koenig (the Growing Pains actor) committed suicide at age 41.
While Billy Ray Cyrus speaks candidly to Chris Heath of GQ magazine, he still falls short of understanding that ultimately we are responsible for those things that are within our control; and within Billy’s control was his daughter, his family and his role and responsibility as a father.
Billy Ray Cyrus tells GQ magazine that after the first two seasons of the TV show, Hannah Montana, he felt things changing:
“The business was driving a wedge between us,” he says. “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.”
Lesson 1: A parent needs to discipline his/her children. A parent cannot and must not try to be his child’s friend or best friend. A parent’s role is not to seek the approval of his child but rather to do all that is necessary to help the child realize his or her full potential. And yes, that involves setting boundaries and instilling discipline. A child needs to have respect and some fear of dad. The existence of a strong, grounded father is what gives the child a greater sense of security, safety and trust. In contrast to a father who is clear about the rules of the house and what is expected of each family member, clients of mine who suffer from anxiety often grew up in families where the father was an alcoholic and the child felt that he was always walking on egg shells – afraid of dad’s erratic and abusive behavior.
But Billy Ray Cyrus was more intent on being Miley’s friend than her father and he also engaged in appropriate seductiveness with his daughter in the photo shoot with Annie Liebovitz in Vanity Fair, where Miley at age 15 is wrapped in a sheet, with enough of her bare back to imply toplessness, and another photo where her head rests close to her dad’s groin.
Lesson 2: Stop being your child’s friend. Listen to my interview with friend and colleague Dr. Vicki Panaccione – Child Psychologist and founder of The Better Parenting Institute for clarification and elaboration of what is dangerous parenting, what is healthy parenting and the real role of a parent. In the enlightening and at times frightening conversation, “Stop being your child’s friend”, Dr. Vicki also warns parents about the dangers of “inappropriate seductiveness”; creating anxiety in children; seeking their children’s approval; expecting the child to fulfill the mental and emotional needs of the parent and; sharing a bed with a child.
But Billy Ray Cyrus believes that things went wrong with Miley and his family for other reasons; he blames the TV show, movie director David Lynch and believes that his family was under attack by Satan. He tells GQ magazine:
“And there, driving to work each day in the City of Angels, was this sign. ‘A physical sign. It could have easily said ‘You will now be attacked by Satan.’ ‘Entering this industry, you are now on the highway to darkness…’”
Regardless of whether or not you believe in Satan the Devil, we all have choices and Billy Ray and his wife made the choice to enter the industry and the highway to darkness knowing all too well that there would be temptation and the price of fame. And in accordance with his religious beliefs, and to avoid the pitfalls of temptation and the enticement of Satan, Billy and his family were baptized before coming out to Los Angeles.
Lesson 3: Satan the devil doesn’t make our choices. Do not put yourself in a situation that you believe will go against your beliefs, morals and values. We all have free will and it was Billy Ray Cyrus who made the choice to allow his adolescent daughter to be a part of the TV show and to move his family to Los Angeles.
Teenagers will often do stupid things – partly because their brain doesn’t fully develop until the early 20s – specifically, the Frontal Lobe. These two “lobes” play a significant role in reasoning, emotion, and judgment as well as voluntary movement. And they are often in battle with the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls our emotions. Read: my newsletter from July, 2010 “What were you thinking?”.
But, a father’s role is to be present to guide, direct and correct a teenager’s behavior and not to allow, contribute, condone or encourage bad and dangerous behavior such as the half-nude photos in Vanity Fair, provocative outfits on tour, pole dancing during an award show, her provocative music videos “Who owns my heart” (when she was underage) videos of her smoking a bong and so forth. Yes, Billy Ray Cyrus finally awoke to his daughter’s out-of control behavior when she was videotaped smoking Salvia from a bong which is legal in California but illegal in 15 other states, but, in the GQ magazine interview, he still fails to accept responsibility as a father:
“Every time something happened in Miley’s career…every time the train went off the track…every time they’d put me… ‘Somebody’s shooting at Miley! Put the old man up there!'” Billy Ray Cyrus tells GQ that he took the public’s slings and arrows “because I’m her daddy, and that’s what daddies do. ‘Okay, nail me to the cross, I’ll take it….’ ”
Lesson 4: Accept responsibility and accountability. It is the father’s role to take the necessary action as the behavior is occurring and thus to do the best to prevent it from spiraling and worsening. Billy didn’t do that as evidenced by the photo shoot in Vanity Fair for which he was present and a participant. Billy Ray Cyrus, an advisory board member of the Parents Television Council, also went against the Council’s condemnation of the Glee photo shoot who stated that it ‘borders on pedophilia’; Billy Ray Cyrus he condoned it and yet those photos don’t seem to fit in line with his religious beliefs or fears of the darkness of Hollywood.
Read the article from October 2010, “Sexualization of school-aged girls harms women of all ages, expert says”:
But is Miley Cyrus’ behavior truly self-destructive or is it just a typical teenage phase?
“I’m scared for her,” Billy Ray admits. “She’s got a lot of people around her that’s putting her in a great deal of danger. I know she’s 18, but I still feel like as her daddy I’d like to try to help. Take care of her just a little bit, to at least get her out of danger. I want to get her sheltered from the storm.”
Unfortunately, Billy Ray Cyrus forgets that it was he that took her down the highway of darkness – where she is now surrounded by people who are putting her in real danger; and with a broken relationship with mom and dad, Miley is really on her own in the storm.
Lesson 5: Put your marriage and family first. It is easy to get caught up in the struggle for fame & success for yourself and your daughter and as such, it can take draw all of your energy away from the priority – your marriage and all of your children (Billy and Tish Cyrus had three underage children at the time they filed for divorce in October 2010.) If you don’t put the marriage first falsely thinking that the children come first, then it will be the children who will suffer first when the marriage fails and turns into a divorce. Read the transcript of the interview I gave to Joanie Winberg of the National Association of Divorce for Women and Children “Is your relationship suffering from the Putt Putt Syndrome?”.
Lesson 6: There’s a price for anything and everything; maintain your integrity. Hollywood is not for everyone, particularly not for those who believe it is run by the devil. Decide and be clear about what is important to you and place that first, above everything else, keeping in mind that for everything there is a price (an exchange); Miley and her family got more fame and fortune but paid for it with divorce, a broken family and maybe an estranged daughter. And now Billy Ray Cyrus sits in his Tennessee mansion wishing he could give it all back to get his family in return.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.