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What does every parent have in common with Billy Ray Cyrus?

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Billy Ray Cyrus has recently cried out to the country that he made some serious mistakes as a Dad. As tempting as it is to shake our heads and mumble ‘I could have told him so’, let’s not be so quick to point fingers. After all, many of us parents are riding the same train.

Billy Ray’s major mistake was very simple. He saw that his daughter had an opportunity to fulfill her fifteen year old dream and he helped her achieve it. What loving father wouldn’t want to give his daughter what she really wanted? Perhaps, he, like so many of us parents (especially fathers) see our kids want to excel, and we allow our children’s wishes to trump our better sense as adults. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see where he went wrong. Shouldn’t he have seen that he was leading her by the hand into a life of misery? We could see it, why couldn’t he?

The answer is easy. He did what most other parents around the US are doing today: we allow our kids’ desires and “needs” to come first in the family. We dance for our kids, contriving ways to better their lives and make them have more star power- whether that is on the tennis court, in the classroom or the football field. We are driven to make our kids stars because, well, if they shine, then we feel like better parents.

The problem is, for us and Billy Ray- this insidious behavior always comes to bite us in the back. Our kids lose, and we lose them. So what can we learn from this poor father’s mistakes? A few very important lessons to learn.

First- no child should ever be the central focus of the family.Parents should not orbit around their kids because they simply can’t handle the power. If we are honest, we all do this because that’s what we see other parents doing. We need to realize that we were in the family first, and healthy children come from families where parents maintain the power, not the kids.

Second, fathers need to hold onto to their authority, not give it up for unnecessary friendships with their kids. In wanting to keep Miley “connected” to him, Billy Ray allowed his relationship with his daughter to morph into a friendship. When dads do this, daughters feel insecure and unsafe. Daughters want fathers to protect them, not coddle them. This makes them crazy.

Finally, we should always be aware of how peer pressure changes our parenting. We indulge our kids only because we see our friends doing it. The real root of the problem may be the fact that wanting to fit in as parents causes us to turn our backs on our very healthy and real parental instincts. Lest we end up with teens holding bongs and having beer parties at 18, we must reject the pressure every one of us feels to be accommodating friends to our kids.

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