Wait Till Your Father Gets Home…

A departure from my usual light-hearted fare, but sometimes I just need to speak my mind. Non-Trinis may find my Trinbago Dictionary useful. Be sure to leave your comments after reading! Enjoy.

 

Much has been said about Miley Cyrus’s recent appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) and her new raunchy persona. While watching a clip of the controversial performance on YouTube I remember thinking – “If that were my daughter I would slap her so hard”.

My talented young cousin Battymamzelle wrote a thought-provoking post about the racial implications of Miley’s performance. A perspective which I do not fully share, but interesting nonetheless.

Forget about the twerking. Twerking is nothing new.  Here in the Caribbean we have been wukking up for generations. It irks me however that a sizeable portion of the US population think they invented the move because it’s new to THEM. (Those of you old enough to remember the oohing and ahhing over Bo Derek’s hairstyle in 10 know exactly what I’m talking about).

Questions swirl around my head about Miley’s very public embracement of her sexuality. What does Liam (Hemsworth) think? What does his family think? He and Miley are supposed to be engaged, after all. But more importantly – what do Miley’s parents think?

Publicly, Miley’s parents have expressed nothing but love and support for their daughter. Rightly so. But I want to believe that privately they are gritting their teeth and harsh words have been exchanged.

At twenty years old Miley has the right to do whatever she wants. She is legally an adult. I wonder though – did Miley consider the possible impact her performance would have on her parents, and if so – did it influence the actual presentation at all? Somehow I think not.

The issue here for me is – at what age do we stop being under parental control?

I want to argue that for many of us, particularly people of colour, the answer is never.  There are many things I would never ever consider doing because if my mother found out she would kill me.

Black parents live by the Bill Cosby motto – “I brought you into this world and I can take you out”. I dodged countless pot spoons and slippers as a child.  The scent of disapproval from my mother still strikes fear into my heart. As West Indians we have the added pressure from all the relatives constantly reminding us – “Don’t make the family shame!”

If at age twenty I had climbed onstage in  a worldwide broadcast and simulated masturbation with a giant foam hand – my parents, aunts, and uncles would have collectively jumped on me and beat the black out of me. Even now – despite her Zimmer frame – I’d risk serious injury from my mother. When you live in a society where the extended family is a norm; adult offspring live at home; and many generations often live under one roof; it is hard to escape that sense of family responsibility.

In Trinidad and Tobago we are identified by our familial alliances – Greta’s daughter. Indra’s sister. Nazir’s mother. My blogger cousin Battymamzelle recently pointed out that there is no such thing as six degrees of separation in T&T. The most you will get are two. Everybody knows you AND your family and they are quick to report on the slightest perceived infringement of the T&T Broughtupsy Code. Forget about the middle class – T&T only has two social strata – ghetto and stush. Guess which one so-called Nice Boys and Girls don’t want to be identified with? The result is that long after we stop pitching marbles we still feel obliged to do what our parents want.

I am not putting forth an argument for full parental control from womb to tomb. But that sense of responsibility to those who raised us – and fear of disappointing them – has stopped many people (myself included) from doing something which they might later regret. It didn’t stop me breaking into a public swimming pool in Cambridge at midnight to skinny dip with a group of friends but I figured there was NO chance of my parents ever finding out. Oops…

Billy Ray Cyrus admitted a few years ago that he spent too long trying to be Miley’s friend instead of her parent. “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.”

Here’s the thing – your children will make and break many friendships as they grow up. But building a healthy respect for the parental bond and influence? You’ve got one shot. No do-overs. Get the parenting right and the friendship will follow.

Talk to your kids. I’m willing to bet twenty years from now when Miley looks back at the video of her VMAs performance she will wish her mum and dad had said to her “I brought you into this world…”

At the end of the day, we are all the product of our parents and the degree of control and influence they have/had over us.

But that’s just my opinion. What do YOU think?

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About trinijax

Fulltime CEO, OD Consultant, Yummy Mummy,TVD fanatic, Potterite, Chelsea FC supporter and Superwoman. Lover of sports, music, books and fine wines View all posts by trinijax

2 responses to “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home…

  • bonniejpreston

    I confess that I felt duty-bound to go to You Tube and actually watch Miley’s performance before commenting. On the night it actually occurred, I turned it off when it started to become embarrassing (for me) to watch. And this is a point I’d like to start with.

    In my opinion, this generation has no idea what sex is all about, and they are missing out. Sex is much sexier when there is an air of mystery about it. If you’re going to throw it all out there for public consumption, we might as well put “men’s magazines” right out there on public magazine racks and put porn on TV.

    Sex is private and there is nothing sexy about simulating sexual acts in public. By the way, I had the same reaction to Madonna in her day. This is all nothing but yet another publicity stunt. I don’t believe Miley is concerned about her fiancées feelings – that’s a stunt too.

    To your point on shaming one’s family, I have a hard time comprehending what has happened to standards of parenting. It seems that we have moved from parents as authority figures to be respected and often feared, to “parents as pals”. The authority disappeared when we decided our kids “self-esteem” was more important than actually teaching them that there are certain people and institutions that deserve respect regardless of your personal feelings.

    I am a baby boomer. When I was a kid, no one cared about my “self-esteem”. If I screwed up, someone told my parents all about it. When I was in elementary school, myself and a couple of friends decided it would be fun to throw rocks at the school bus after it dropped us off. We were lousy shots so no damage was done. But when my parents arrived home from work that evening (both my parents worked – in NYC – an hour away from our home) I heard all about how ashamed they were of me. There was no effort at all to distinguish between me and my behavior, It was clear they were ashamed of ME.

    Even illness wasn’t an excuse. I had been ill and part of my treatment was a gamma globulin injection. The serum is thick and – therefore – the needle is large. It was the worst injection I’ve ever had and 50+ years later I still remember it vividly. Consequently, the next time I needed a shot – probably for school – I screamed my bloody head off when the nurse approached me with the needle. My mother looked at me coldly (with all her steely reserve, learned at the knee of her own steely British mother) and said “Bonnie, I am ashamed of you.”

    I was so much more afraid of disappointing my mother than I was of that hypodermic needle I took the shot. It didn’t hurt a bit.

    One more story. My family had congregated at my mother’s brother’s house at Christmas. I was 21 and I had been married and divorced by then and had been living in my own home since I was 18. My cousin – also 21 – was also living on her own. We shared her old room, each in a twin bed, and we were gabbing late into the night, catching up on our lives. My mother, hearing us talking, knocked on the door, opened it and said “Girls, it’s late. Go to sleep.” and shut the door.

    Being the obedient daughter I am, I immediately turned out the light. About 15 seconds later, I sat bolt upright in the bed, turned the light back on and said to my cousin “Wait a minute. What just happened here? Aren’t we independent and over 21?” We laughed and I turned off the light and went to sleep.

    My mother and I enjoyed an incredibly close relationship, and I believe my desire to always make her proud of me saved me from doing any number of incredibly stupid things.

    I know my husband and I have raised our children with much more discipline than their peers. We followed our parent’s model. We heard throughout their childhoods how polite and well-mannered our kids were. Of course they were, because they knew there would be consequences if their behavior did not meet our standards.

    In an age when small children are often allowed to run around in public places totally out of control, our kids were the model of discipline and restraint. Today our own children often complain about their “entitled” peers!

    What I don’t understand is how this change in parenting happened. If we followed our parents, what happened to our peers? What caused them to abandon that model and adopt the one that says you need to coddle your kid’s self-esteem and be their pal? By the results of this model, I would call it a failure of titanic proportions.

    Just my opinion of course.

  • trinijax

    Wow. Powerful commentary Bonnie. Thank you for sharing! I endorse 1000000%

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