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Where Did Billy Ray Go?


When I watched Miley Cyrus slither on stage at the recent MTV Video Music Awards looking like a cross between a 12-year-old boy and a seasoned pole dancer, I felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach. Clearly she was coached to act sexually outrageous in order to get attention.  But her handlers forgot to tell her that she would embarrass herself and, hopefully, her family.  Her performance showed how seriously she has been prostituted by adults wanting to gain one thing: a lot of money. And as she moved on stage I wondered, Where is Billy Ray?

I remember an interview that Billy Ray did in 2007 when he described his relationship with his then 14-year-old daughter. He remarked that he enjoyed teaching her to cook hot dogs and play games with her but when it came to discipline, he wasn’t very keen on it. That was her mother’s territory.

Clearly over the past six years, his fatherly influence has waned miserably. I don’t know Billy Ray and before I would indict him as a bad father, it is important to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Miley and/or her mother cut him out of Miley’s life. What happened on stage several nights ago shows what happens to young girls who have no fatherly influence; for no dad who cherishes his daughter would advocate such sexually ridiculous behavior.

But rather than point fingers, I think that it is important to learn a few things.

First, Miley, at 20 years of age, is still cognitively not yet an adult. We know through studies on brain development that the higher brain functions (those that help young people understand behavior and their consequences) aren’t complete. That means that parents must still give strong and clear guidance to 20-year-old children in order to keep them safe. I wonder if Billy Ray knows this.

Second, we must recognize that the same forces, which seduced Miley to behave as she did, are at work on our kids too. The difference between our kids and Miley are only two things: she has more money and more exposure. But with access to the Internet, many of our young daughters can acquire enormous exposure and let’s not be fools. They know how to get attention, just like Miley does. So we must be relentlessly diligent in keeping tabs on what our girls show to whom and when.

Third, Miley’s behavior shows us how desperately girls crave male attention. That means, dads, you’re on. We can glean from her performance that she didn’t get nearly enough attention from Billy Ray because we know that girls who get attention at home are far less likely to seek it outside the home.

As I wrote in Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, the most effective way to boost a girl’s self-esteem is to have her father show her more physical affection.

Can changing a girl’s behavior be as simple as having her father hug her, pay attention to her and show her that he loves being with her?


Finally, this is no time to be a wimpy parent. Every parent needs to learn to be comfortable stonewalling their kids when necessary. Specifically, moms and dads need to learn to say “no” to their daughters more frequently and with more authority.

Skip the friendship thing; you have the rest of your life to be friends. Engage your kids in conflict because it shows them you care enough to protect them. When it comes to how girls dress, for instance, we mothers seem to lose our minds. We want our girls to “fit in” with their friends and that means we are too lenient with skanky clothes. We need to listen to our husbands when they tell our daughters that they can’t go to school wearing skirts that are two sizes too small and shirts that dive to their navels.

Parents be warned. The world doesn’t like kids very much.

Young girls are seduced into believing that in order to “be somebody,” they need to look and act promiscuous.

If they can do it to Hannah Montana, what young girl is off limits?


  1. I agree with every one of your words. Thanks!

  2. It is sad but, I looked at Billy Ray’s facebook this morning to see what his thoughts were, and it floored me. He said he was proud of her and supported her. Sad to hear this. I just can’t understand how a “Christian” father could say this about his daughter after a profane performance like that. I could not watch just a clip of it without getting sick. As a parent of boys, I am not sure what I would do if my daughter had acted this way, on stage or off, but I can imagine “proud” is NOT the word I would have used. You can love your child, and still be ashamed of their actions. Loved the article. Thank you.

    • A good parent would not humiliate their child on national t.v. A good parent addresses these things privately. We do not need to know those personal things.

  3. She’s an adult, not a teenager or preteen. She has the right to act any way she wishes, regardless of how her parents or others may wish. We send 17 year old “men” to war but she can’t dance on cable TV? Prudish in the extreme

  4. What were you doing watching the MTV Music Porno Awards anyway. Checking to see if they were more crass and outlandish than the year before. Did you somehow expect a chage for the better? Were you surprised and shocked. Shame on you. Shame on Billy Ray and shame on America. Tune in next year so you can click your tongue and be more shocked.

  5. 1- what adults here are watching MTV? I don’t even know what channel it is on my TV. 2- we don’t know the real story, yes, we see her on TV, but we don’t know the whole story. People lie especially online and when their privacy is invaded. 3- the most important part of this blog entry is the fact that a 20 year old is not ready to take life on by him/herself. The brain is not mature in many ways, physically and emotionally. 4- where is the take home message tht God must be the center of all our lives, in all our decision making, and that we must help each other get to heaven? 5- Yes, fathers should not be friends, we are not friends with God our Father either. Thank God for that!

  6. So darn easy to sit back and spout off what went/is wrong when you are on the outside looking in. There are likely lots of better articles giving parents helpful applicable tips without tearing yet another strip off this young woman (and her father). Regardless of how I feel about this whole issue, I refuse to join the finger pointing. Why would anyone ever expect the dad to publicly say he is disappointed in his daughter? Do we stop loving our children when they make mistakes? Is our love conditional? The reality is – there are a LOT of girls growing up without dads, so to say “buck up dad” is simply not realistic for a vast number of families. What can we do? Invest your time in young women, encourage them. Stop telling them they are pretty and start telling them they are smart. Come alongside young women in the workplace, be there for them, pray for them, help them navigate the stormy waters of young adulthood, volunteer time in high schools tutoring, give to a local college for scholarship funds for young women, start a mentoring program, get involved.

  7. Great article, and I agree with what you’re saying, but wasn’t it just a few years ago that billy Ray was responsible for putting her into a very sexualized magazine cover and spread (maybe even while she was still a minor?)? I may be misremembering this, but he’s not just passively part of the problem by “not being keen” on discipline, but he’s actively a part of the issue by pimping out his daughter.

    I’ve always wanted a daughter, but in some ways I’m glad that we only had boys, when I look at the issues that dads of daughters have.


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