kids watching tvCelebrities and parents in the US are talking about the MTV Video Music Awards that aired Sunday night. Most of the award show was a fun concert showcasing the latest popular artists like Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry, but there is a performance by one artist that has everyone buzzing: Miley Cyrus. She’s the same young lady who many of my teen patients grew up watching as Hannah Montana and last night she showed America that she wants to be seen as all grown up; an adult woman. Whether she relayed that message in an appropriate way is left up for discussion. The look on the face of Will Smith, who was sitting with his young teen children in audience, showed a parent who would agree with me that her performance was for mature audiences only. So why am I chosing to talk about a very sexual performance on an awards show? Well, I see this as a great opportunity to start the conversation with our teens about sex and our expectations of their behavior. Though Miley’s gyrating hips and sexual innuendos with tongue movements were behaviors I did not find entertaining at all, they did make me stop and think  about what I would say to my daughter if we were watching the VMA’s together. Here are some of the tips for parents that came to my mind:

1. Watch what your kids watch. You may not want to sit for 2 hours watching the VMA’s on MTV, but if they’re viewing a program, pay attention to what’s on the screen. If you see something you deem inappropriate for their age, turn the channel or ask them to turn the TV off.

2. Pay attention. Listen to song lyrics, pay attention to the latest trends in music and fashion. You don’t have to follow the newest band’s twitter feed or know which artists are most popular, but it is a good idea to listen to the lyrics of your teen’s favorite band and see which fashion trends are popular. I can recall the lyrics to one of my favorite songs as a teen. It was all about drug use, though I didn’t understand what the artist was eluding to at the time.

3. Have a conversation. This performance on the VMA’s is the perfect opportunity to talk to your teen about your expectations of their behavior. Discuss what you saw on the show. Talk about relationships, sex, dating. As about school dances and ask what the latest dance moves are. Ask your teen what they think of what they’re seeing and tell them why you disapprove.

Did you watch the VMA’s? What did you think of the performances? Were there other celebrity performances that caused you to pause and think about what your teens are watching and listening to? Did you talk with your teen about what you saw?