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Talking to kids about Miley Cyrus' VMAs performance

Miley Cyrus performs onstage during the 2013 MTV

Miley Cyrus performs onstage during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. (Aug. 25, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Former "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus created quite a stir among parents after her 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance on Sunday night. As a Disney star with a young teen fan base, many parents where shocked by her racy gyrations, "twerking" and disturbing gestures.

Mom groups and bloggers are outraged by Cyrus' suggestive, eyebrow-raising performance. According to "Entertainment Weekly" the Parents Television Council (PTC) had this to say:

“MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials -- while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14. This is unacceptable,” said PTC director of public policy Dan Isett in a news release. “MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds?"

If your children watched the VMAs, you may be wondering if you should address Cyrus' act and how you should approach it. Vicki Hoefle, author of "Duct Tape Parenting: A Less Is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids" (Bibliomotion; $19.95) offered these tips on talking to your kids:

1. Check in with your own feelings and anxieties, stay open minded and make sure you're emotionally available for whatever it is your child is about to share with you.

2. Start the conversation by asking your child questions: What did it mean when your child saw their potential idol do a 180 on national television? "This will help the parent or guardian get a good feel for how the child is interpreting the event or situation," said Hoefle. For example, you may want to ask: “If you could say one thing to Miley (or whoever) what would you say? What would you want to ask her or what would you want her to know?”

3. Refrain from judgment, lectures and disgust. Instead, get a sense for how it's making your child feel. He/she may feel embarrassed, disappointed, angry or confused by what they saw. "These feelings may be new and a bit unsettling, so give the child time to get comfortable enough to articulate them," she said.

4. Use this experience as an opportunity to establish a more mature conversation about relationships, sex, role models and expectations.

5. Follow up with further conversations. "Your child is likely to wrap this event up in a neat bow and be ready to move beyond it quickly," said Hoefle. "With a situation like this, they'll likely talk about it with friends, read about it online, hear about it on television, etc. Stay connected and touch base often to make sure you know what is going on. This way, your child knows that you're there and available."
 

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