Teens Gone Wild

August 27, 2013

By Gabrielle. (Who loves it when my kids wear Converse!)

My social media streams are overflowing with VMA reflections. Mostly poor, and it made me sad. (I used to love music awards shows with all the surprise guests and live performances, didn’t you?)

I’m a huge fan of kids growing up, expressing their own ideas, and finding their own style… within reason! (Because let’s be honest, you all know I’m a mom who loves to plan wardrobes for the entire school year.) But it has to happen. And we all probably cross our fingers and fill up the sky with prayers every night that it happens as safely — and the least outlandishly! — as possible.

Back to the VMAs. Maybe instead of focusing on which good girl was caught swearing in the audience, who was wearing not much at all, or which former Disney star is performing a little less sweetly these days, we should seek out young adults who are doing it right.

Tell me: Who are you encouraging as a good example to your teens? And who are they gravitating toward these days? (And what did they think of Miley? Oh, Miley.)

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Megan August 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

We don’t pay much attention to the “stars” on TV but… The Blair kids are high on our lists. We love Ralphs instagram and everything he is doing with his love for videography. Also, Olive has an amazing eye for photography! Maude is crazy stylish and we follow her too!


2 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm

You’re so sweet, Megan! I told my kids what you wrote and they were beaming.


3 Jodi August 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

Thank you Gabrielle for reminding us to stop giving attention to bad behavior. I would like to point out a bright spot from the VMAs, the outstanding performance by Justin Timberlake, who just like Miley was a part of the Disney family as a kid (on the Mickey Mouse Club with Britney and Christina). His outlandish teen acting out moment was being a part of n-sync, which a part from being a bit cheesy in a boy band kind of way wasn’t so bad. He has grown up to be a triple threat: singer, dancer, actor, who works hard everyday.


4 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I am such a JT fan. I wish him nothing but continued success!


5 Jennyalso August 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I love converse!! I have navy blue (and my boys black for their “dress” shoes) but wish we had the whole rainbow.


6 Emme August 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I don’t have an answer, but THANK YOU for focusing on the positive!!! I think that’s what I try to teach my children–no one is perfect, so focus on the things they do well (or have done well in the past)!


7 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 4:02 pm

“no one is perfect, so focus on the things they do well (or have done well in the past)”

I need to make that into a poster.


8 Di August 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm

My friend posted the following link on on her Facebook site after the VMA awards and all the celebrity gossip and it struck home with me too…I think that it is normal people, doing something heroic in their normal lives that are the ones we should look up to and encourage our children to look up to too!


It was funny that one of her friends commented that it was sort of ironic that this was posted on the BBC…..

But in saying that – I love the fact that kids have so many different types of role models to look up to!!


9 Lara August 28, 2013 at 9:07 am

I agree! I was watching one of the news channels and they were showing the live ceremony of this celebrated war hero, recounting some of his heroic measures during his service in Iraq and at the bottom of the screen was the ticker recapping the VMA the night before. What a juxtaposition! Shortly after they switched briefly to recap other news, including the VMAs and the ridiculousness displayed during the show and I found myself yelling at the screen.. “NO! Go back!” Our children deserve better role models.


10 Amy August 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I have to admit, we live in a bubble. I get razzed by family a lot for that- but I’m ok with that. My daughter loves Selena Gomez/Wizards, Taylor Swift and Little House on the Prairie! Gotta love it! My son would rather climb a tree than focus on tv- a blessing. We may be free spirit pseudo Bay Area hippies- but we are constantly overwhelmed by what’s out there. So we seek the positive- as you nicely stated… Also- the Olive Us videos are a treat for them :)


11 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Yay for Little House on the Prairie! And yay that watch Olive Us, too!

I actually have a big Olive Us announcement that I’m making tomorrow. Watch for it!


12 kirsten August 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm

My 14 year old daughter, who is a pretty cool kid, and pretty much loves all things pop music, was – simply put – baffled by all of Miley’s antics. We both agreed that it seems pretty unfair that she had to act like a lunatic to promote herself and all that Robin Thicke had to do to promote his song was stand there fully clothed in a suit and let her act like an idiot. Its funny – in my mind – it isn’t shocking – after all I’m the generation that sat rapt as Madonna writhed on the floor in a wedding gown making my mother roll her eyes. But I just feel bad. Miley’s whole act was exhausting. As I commented to someone the other day – going from a stuffed animal to a blow up sex doll is a heck of a character arc for five minutes onstage.


13 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm

I especially love the last line of your comment. Made me laugh. And also sigh.


14 Fiona August 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Not to put any pressure on you and your family – I love Ralph Blair’s instagram feed and his you tube, I love his commitment to his passion, and while I haven’t introduced my young boys to it yet, I would immediately if they showed any similar interest in making videos, and eye for the artisitic.

My husband is very into golf, and I am really hoping my boys follow him soon, because I think it teaches all sorts of good character traits as well as being a challenging outdoor pursuit and I am really hoping that someone like Rickie Fowler wins a major next year – because I think he could be a good role model for young golfers. He’s got the look, the manners and the game.


15 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Thank you for the kind words about Ralph. He’s such a great kid!

(And I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t know who Rickie Fowler is — but I’m off to look him up!)


16 Jill August 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I encourage my children to look within themselves for inspiration . They have such strong spirits and creativity.


17 Jean August 28, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Wow, Jill! That statement is downright beautiful! (:


18 Amelia August 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I don’t understand why anyone seems surprised from the VMAs. Did you forget that Miley was grinding on a stripper pole 4 years ago at the same award show?? FOUR years ago!! Dad was clapping in the audience as if everything was all right. These shows are meant to be provocative and push the envelope. I don’t know why anyone would let their young children watch or think that it was okay for teens to view. Parents need to set boundaries for their kids and even thinking for a second that an “awards” show on MTV would be appropriate has obviously never seen one.


19 Kristin August 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Amen to that! Nothing on MTV is less than PG-13 these days, and most is worse.


20 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:12 pm

If you’re missing the old MTV, you might get a kick out of the Portlandia episode where they go find the original VJs. So funny!


21 Jeanette August 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I agree with Amy; the Olive Us videos are a treat! It’s so refreshing to see a real (not a reality tv) family that enjoys life’s adventures together.


22 Jane August 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

We didn’t have cable for years. And when we finally got it (I’d really like to unplug it…) we didn’t get the Disney Channel. so that was always a treat if we were in a hotel. We were able to watch some of the shows on network TV and then, later, had all of it. My girls enjoyed Hannah Montana. But my girls, now 17 and 20, have lost respect for her as a person the past few years.

The girls really like Taylor Swift. They like her music and they like who she is.

Since my son is studying music, we talk a lot about the music industry. Many of his idols and mentors have problem-filled lives…many ended their lives via overdose. Others are divorced, presumably from the difficult life on the road. We try to come up with examples of entertainers who have positive personal lives too. (It’s hard to do.)

I guess I can’t come up with too many examples in the pop media to give my kids.


23 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:11 pm

“We try to come up with examples of entertainers who have positive personal lives too. (It’s hard to do.)”

What an interesting exercise.


24 Shelly August 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

US pop culture offers a starting point for many discussions. I think the conversation about ‘What is a role model? Why? Are celebrities role models? What is perceived as a role models by our culture?’ Is one to have with kids.

I no longer live stateside so our family is removed from US pop culture but I asked my pre-teen who her current role model is and said Jane Goodall.


25 Jennifer F. - American Mom in Bordeaux August 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm

We didn’t watch the show – but yes – my social media was all in a frenzy over the situation. I would rather have my girls look to positive female role models – people who make a difference, are strong in their own way – sometimes intellectual, sometimes funny, sometimes just super caring people. We all should have confidence in who we are and be proud of what we do. (no matter how big or small). A friend of my in Saratoga Springs NY – posted this blog post – and I couldn’t have said it better myself.


I would rather see my girls look toward the positive. Thanks Gaby for also focusing on the positive and not give too much attention to the negative.


26 Sunny Day August 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Hélène Campbell, Talia (shown on Ellen), UN teen ambassators and kids who work as volunteers – as in Build On organisation…


27 Megan M. August 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Can someone link to Ralph’s Instagram and YouTube accounts? I would love to follow him!

I don’t know what to say about Miley other than growing up in this country as a young woman is so confusing. So many messages about who you “should” be getting thrown at you, and it has to be a hundred times harder for someone who grew up in the media spotlight. I was dismayed by her performance and dismayed by many people’s reactions to it.

Moving on… I think Ellen DeGeneres is a huge role model for women. She’s so generous and warm, especially to young people. I think that’s inspiring.


28 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Sure thing!

Ralph’s Youtube:

Ralph’s Instagram:

And I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres, too.


29 jo August 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

i wouldn’t mind it at all if my daughter looked up to taylor swift, although we don’t listen to her music, and i also think emma watson (or maybe just the character of hermione) is a good role model. my daughter just turned 10 and so far isn’t looking up to any of these young ladies. her favorite actress is audrey hepburn, and her favorite music is fleet foxes, the shins, and belle and sebastian. i hope that as she grows older she will continue to find her own stuff to like and not necessarily be led only by what her friends are into and what is popular in our culture at large.


30 Gemma Hartley August 27, 2013 at 4:29 pm

You and your daughter should really take a further look at Emma Watson (not just as Hermione). She’s an awesome role model for young girls.


31 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm

My husband said he was impressed with how involved Taylor Swift’s parents were at the concert.


32 Kristen - Art History Mom August 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm

The other day my 16 year old babysitter came over to watch the kids. (Our kids are all under seven.) I asked her what she had been doing all summer and she replied: “Oh, it’s been a great summer! I went on a mission trip to serve orphans with disabilities, attended a silent retreat (um, teens… silent… retreat?!) and have been working on my Spanish. Wow.

I’m grateful to have excellent role models for my kids right next door.


33 Shannon { A Mom's Year } August 27, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I think awards shows can be great fun, but stopped watching the VMAs years ago. I don’t like shock value for the sake of being shocking, if you know what I mean.

I asked my older two just now who they look up to. My son (15) said, Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (super cool astrophysicist) and my daughter (almost 13) said Jennifer Lawrence. I know she’s also really inspired by artists on deviantArt.


34 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm

My kids really like Jennifer Lawrence, too!


35 Kelly August 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I agree that we should focus on the positive role models but there are definitely none to be found at the VMA’s, in my opinion. Taylor Swift is better than most but I still think her songs are getting a little edgier and her necklines more plunging. I’m grateful for real young women in my daughters lives that they can look to as an example. They have older cousins who are going to college, serving missions, who are kind and loving to their families and who don’t need the attention of the world. So many celebrities, shows and groups that seem innocent are really sending out bad messages, disguised as fun pop culture. I’m looking at you One Direction. If you read their lyrics they are not innocent at all.


36 Amy August 27, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Yes! Yes to mentors we actually know in real life, and less emphasis on “role models” (celebrities) just posturing or keeping habits hidden whilst in the spotlight.


37 Lauren August 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm

I try and fill my kids’ world with more books and less TV and ask them frequently who their literary hero(in)es are. So far it’s working but they are still young. Oldest starts middle school next week and I am bracing myself!


38 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Great idea to ask about literary heros! I will try to remember this.


39 Sarah August 28, 2013 at 12:04 am

Miley has such a beautiful and distinct voice. Try “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” a Bob Dylan cover she recorded for the album Chimes of Freedom.


40 Cindy August 28, 2013 at 9:48 am

Years ago, in a budget crisis, but also in a moment of motherhood inspiration, I realized that cable TV was bringing lots of things into my home I didn’t want. Disney and Nickelodeon tell children that living alone, with little/no parental influence, is the cool thing to do. And that fresh mouths are acceptable. So not my children’s reality. We cut the cord, and couldn’t be happier. Do we still fight the influence of the internet? Absolutely. But we watch a lot of documentaries on Netflix, read books, play games. I feel so sorry for the young entertainers who have been breadwinners and have had no parenting. They are adrift, with no real anchor. The young women, in particular, seem to have such a lack of self esteem.


41 mandi@herbanhomestead August 28, 2013 at 11:27 am

Well, we are fortunate to have real life role models right around here. My husband is a youth pastor and our home is humming with teen agers and college aged kids on a weekly basis. So when my younger kids need someone to look up to, I point to one of these teens that they already love.


42 Design Mom August 29, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Wow! That’s so wonderful. I love hearing about inspiring teenagers.


43 Ilene August 28, 2013 at 11:28 am

I did not watch the awards show but have seen snippets online. I’m a bit confused and maybe too old, but I didn’t really get it. What was with the tongue hanging out and the teddy bears? These kinds of shows have always been about who can shock the most, remember Madonna? What I think is sad though is that Robin Thicke does a video with a bunch of naked girls and gets no backlash. Sadly there is a double standard for girls.


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