Well, since it’s the hot topic of the week I may as well hop on the Miley Cyrus bandwagon, or anti-bandwagon as the case may be. Except I’m going to take a different tack then you’ve probably read elsewhere. I have a daughter who is 21, a senior at the great Hillsdale College. As I watched Ms. Cyrus and tried not to throw up, I thought to myself what kind of parents must a young lady have to be willing to do something like this. You would never find a Hillsdale College student pulling such a publicity stunt. Why? Parents.

I don’t know how widely this was seen, but after the, ah, performance, Miley’s mom gave her a standing ovation. No, really. Unless it was some kind of Photoshop video job to pull one over on the unsuspecting Internet public, but I suspect not. Hollywood moms are notorious for being, well, Hollywood moms. And daddy Cyrus, Billy Ray, well, his response isn’t a whole lot better, at least the public one:

“Of course I’ll always be here for Miley. Can’t wait to see her when she gets home,” Billy Ray, 52, told ET. “She’s still my little girl and I’m still her Dad regardless how this circus we call show business plays out. I love her unconditionally and that will never change.”

I see, it’s show business that caused her to act like a comic book porn star on national TV. And after all, that’s what kids need when they act inappropriately, affirmation. I’m sure nobody would ever accuse Billy Ray Cyrus of being a font of wisdom; he’s obviously never passed any on to his daughter. And to think, these people claim to be Christians! Now far be it from me to judge the state of anyone’s soul, or their relationship to God, but I seem to remember something about fruit in the Bible, and how you’ll know the tree by it.

Growing up my mother often told me how her father would lecture her when she was a little girl: if you go through town and act like an idiot (I paraphrase), people will not say what a bad girl you are, but what lousy parents you have! I think my Sicilian grandfather was right: children are a direct reflection on their parents. His folk wisdom is confirmed in the Bible, Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Since we live in an age which some people call post-modern, i.e. people believe there is no such thing as objective reality or truth, many Americans doubt this ancient wisdom. They’ve seen children grow up with very dependable and apparently decent parents who screw up their lives. But just because people seem like they have it together on the outside doesn’t mean they are effective parents. You can have the most well meaning parents who have no clue how to impart wisdom and character to their children.

One of the great moments of my life came on a ride home from church some years ago. My youngest, a son, probably nine or so at the time, had asked me some question, and I went into one of my typical lectures. He asked me why I always do that, and my daughter said, “Well, Dominic, that’s because daddy is always teaching.” That got me verklempt. But that’s the point; we need to continually be selling our children on, for lack of a better phrase, the true, the good, and the beautiful. We need to persuade them, to reason with them, to cajole them, so they fully buy into our worldview and everything associated with it.

It’s really not that hard, and what makes it so is that thing post-moderns don’t really even believe in, human nature. Something that became readily apparent to me as I got older is how predictable human beings are, whether they are your children or not, or children at all. For example, all human beings are inclined to self-pity and feeling like they are victims. If this is not eradicated in your children they will likely grow up to become bitter and resentful; one flows from the other. How do you teach your children to interpret the inevitable struggles and disappointments in life? It’s simple; you refuse to let them feel sorry for themselves, period. The struggles are there to help them grow and learn. Of course it helps to have mom around to give a little sympathy when it’s warranted, but not too much. And I could multiply scenarios and examples, including modesty and good taste, lessons Miley Cyrus obviously never learned.

Of course you can only give what you already have, so if a parent isn’t a lifelong learner it could be a crap shoot how the kids turn out. I have a feeling Miley Cyrus’ parents are not exactly life-long learners.