Two stories from over the weekend broke my heart as a father. On Sunday night Miley Cyrus “performed” at the MTV VMA’s (imho that’s too many letters, lol). Facebook was all abuzz during the show, making me wonder why so many of my Christian friends were watching the Music Video Awards to start with, but I’ll move on.
When Miley Cyrus danced on stage she was about as close to naked as a person can be, and the performance was extremely sexual. I couldn’t help but wonder how her father feels about his young daughter’s transformation.
Miley is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, who jumped into the country music spotlight with his 1992 hit Achy Breaky Heart. His time at the top was relatively short, but he reemerged alongside his daughter on their Disney Channel sitcom Hannah Montana. The show launched Miley’s career, and it re-launched Billy Ray’s.
I’ve never spoken to either Cyrus, but it seems to me that the elder pushing the younger towards success is a lesson in how not to raise a child. The “career first” mentality appears to be both seductive and destructive.
The other heart-breaking event came on Saturday when I was watching the Apopka Blue Darters play the Byrnes Rebels in high school football. I grew up 10 minutes from Apopka High (home of Hall of Famer Warren Sapp) so I was excited to see them so close again.
Apopka’s head coach is Rick Darlington, and Rick’s son Zach is the senior quarterback. With under 4 minutes to go in the game and the visiting Blue Darters trailing the Rebels by 8, Zack rolled out of the pocket and was heading for the sideline when a defender tackled him.
The hit was clean and legal, but it resulted in a concussion for the QB. Everyone in the stands held their breath as Darlington lay there motionless.
He never moved or even opened his eyes while medical personnel loaded him on the stretcher. After fifteen minutes or so he was taken to an adjacent field; while he was being carted away the game resumed, and Coach Rick Darlington remained on the sidelines calling the game.
Within seconds cameras showed a chopper descending onto the field, and Zach was loaded up and airlifted to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Rick Darlington stayed on the sidelines while his son’s health was uncertain.
I was furious. I felt like I cared more about this kid than his own father. But then the worst part was the announcer’s comment about how hard it must be for a father who “has to” keep coaching. Has to? With his son on a helicopter? There are a dozen assistant coaches on the sideline, and none of them can coach the last 3 minutes?
That comment showed the perception of Americans. A dad has to keep coaching when his son may never walk again.
The message from coach to quarterback was clear: Rick’s career was more important. I could be wrong about this, but every father I’ve talked to agrees that there is nothing that would have kept us off of that helicopter (Zach was released from the hospital on Monday and is doing fine).
I’m not calling either of these men bad fathers; I don’t know them, and that would not be fair. Neither am I calling myself the model of fatherhood, because I certainly make mistakes. But these very public instances over the weekend hurt my heart as I saw a generation of children being failed by their parents. More specifically, by their fathers.
Our children can certainly become rich, famous stars, singers, and sports players. But as parents we have to model for them what is most important. Faith and family come before fame.