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What to say to kids about Miley Cyrus' raunchy act

Aug. 26, 2013 at 1:14 PM ET

Call it the performance that launched a thousand gasps. A day after 20 year-old Miley Cyrus gyrated, twerked, and ran a giant foam finger down the front of a 36 year-old performer’s pants at the MTV Video Music Awards, all while wearing a latex bikini, many parents are wondering how to explain it all to their kids.

Many are especially shocked about the change from Cyrus’ wholesome, Disney Channel persona as "Hannah Montana" to a writhing singer who literally caused jaws to drop with her raunchy moves.

Video: Reaction on Twitter and across social media to the young pop singer’s performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards Sunday night ranged from shock to adoration.

“Because she was the child star, obviously she has much younger people watching and enamored with her, or at least aware of her, than someone who just came on the scene,” psychiatrist and TODAY contributor Gail Saltz told TODAY Moms.

“So in some ways, it’s forcing parents’ hands to say something that they maybe wouldn’t need to say anything about. It’s a fine opportunity to express your own values… it’s an opportunity to say what you approve and don’t approve of.”

The comments are already flying fast and furious on Twitter.

“As children head to school today, millions of parents are still at home burning #HannaMontana items,” tweeted Victoria @vckykub.

Harris Walker, @The HarrisWalker had a similar take: 


But others jumped to her defense.

Then, there was this.

Saltz said a show like the MTV Video Music Awards is not appropriate for elementary school kids. But even when older children watch, parents have to be aware of what can go on during the program and be there to explain that a performance like Cyrus’ was probably not a good decision, she advised.

“This is an opportunity for parents to say, ‘Wow, sadly she wants to be famous and noticed so badly that she’s willing to do things that I think many people – certainly, probably her parents – would really disapprove of and I think her behavior kind of takes away from her talent,’” Saltz said.

“You can say (to your children): ‘You can like some things about her, like her music, but this seemed in pretty poor taste and I think it’s sad that she had to do that.’”

Many teens list fame as the thing they want most out of life – above love and money – so this is a good time to point out fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Saltz added.

She didn’t think any case could be made that Cyrus was a liberated woman expressing herself.

“A woman should own her sexuality, absolutely, but you don’t have to show it to millions of people to own it,” Saltz said.

“We’re talking about using sex and your body to get attention. I don’t know if I put that in the same basket with being a liberated woman.”

What do you think? Let us know on the TODAY Moms Facebook page.

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