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Help! My Kid's Role Model is Topless

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Lindsay Lohan has posed topless.

Earlier this week, we debated over whether a mom should let daughter watch "The Parent Trap" amid all the chatter about Lindsay Lohan's suddenly super skinny appearance. Now, to add to the drama, topless photos of Lindsay have cropped up, from fashion photographer Hedi Slimane.

We've been down this road before with Vanessa Hudgens, Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon, and Miley Cyrus. Here we go again!

We asked clinical psychologist Dr. Cara Gardenswartz, Ph.D., for some guidance.

Momlogic: Should we discuss these photos with our kids?

Dr. Cara Gardenswartz: If you have reason to believe that your teenager has seen these photos or knows about the photos, I highly recommend that you address the issue directly. It is important that you model to your teenager that we can "talk about anything" so that they feel comfortable bringing up topics with you that they might otherwise shy away from. Open dialogue will encourage your teenagers to tell you about what they are feeling and even thinking about doing (e.g., experimentation that occurs in the teenage years).

Momlogic: If our teen brings these up, what should we say?

Dr. Cara Gardenswartz: If your teenager brings the pictures up, it is important to first listen to what they have to say.  Ask them: "What do YOU think about the pictures?" More often than not, they will already have an opinion that is sensible, such as "I think she's being a bad role model." If they say that they like Lindsay's decision, ask them "Why?" and also ask them if they see any downsides to her actions. You can also ask your teen (if you have reason to be concerned)  if she has ever thought about posting provocative pictures of herself. If she says yes, ask her why. Overall, you want to have a discussion versus lecture your teen.
Momlogic: What do we say when our kids' role models (such as Miley Cyrus in Vanity Fair) pose topless, no matter how "tasteful" the shots may be?

Dr. Cara Gardenswartz: I would not assume that Miley or Lindsay are role models for your kids. I would ask them who their role models are. I would then follow up with a question about how they feel about Miley, Lindsay, etc. If they like them, how do they feel about the pictures? Overall, encourage discussion and for your teenager to voice both their positive and negative feelings with you, so they feel heard and learn to trust that you will listen to them. That is the best parenting you can do.

What do you think about Lindsay's latest photo shoot?

next: Florida Musician Kills Wife, 2 Daughters and Self
164 comments so far | Post a comment now
Elizabeth February 25, 2009, 3:12 PM

i think this is great advice- i struggle about how to talk to my kids about these “role models”

Laura February 25, 2009, 3:55 PM

if Lindsey Lohan is your child’s role model it appears it is time for you to go to therapy along with your soon to need it child. The mere fact that a mother lets her young girl spend any of her time idolizing this train wreck should be grounds for a social services call : ( I could not think of a worse example of a role model. What a ridiculous conversation…..

Anne February 25, 2009, 4:09 PM

“if Lindsey Lohan is your child’s role model it appears it is time for you to go to therapy along with your soon to need it child.” — I completely agree, well said!

Anonymous February 25, 2009, 4:27 PM

Stop making it celebrities responsibility to help raise you children.

nome February 25, 2009, 4:33 PM

agreed that anyone who’s child’s rolemodel needs to go to therapy along with the poor kid. what is UP with Lohan being that skinny all of a sudden anyway? i keep seeing these freaky pics, but what’s going on with her? she truly grosses me out at this point, where i look at her picture and want to gag.

Anonymous February 25, 2009, 4:41 PM

I think there’s some valuable lessons to be taught here. First of course, as one of the posters put it so well, celebrities don’t make good role models. AT ALL. In my house we had a saying - if you can’t be a good example, then be a horrible warning.

Take your daughters aside and explain that this phenomena is what manifests when you sail through life under a microscope as an overindulged brat that generates a living for her entire family… doing exactly nothing but behaving poorly. Is she even famous for anything but being famous anymore?

(That is, unless you think this kind of life is normal and your inmates (children) are running the asylum).

Brittany Spears/Paris Hilton much?

Bec Thomas February 25, 2009, 4:43 PM

Lindsey Lohan are alot bigger problems then artistic nude photo’s. If you still haven’t informed your child that she is a looser and why I think you have bigger problems also.

? February 25, 2009, 5:53 PM

This is total garbage. While some people follow their role models, most teens who do that and don’t just flat out rebel are exceptions. Miley Cyrus is an amazing role model in my house, and everyone (except for a very bratty and poorly behaving 16 year old boy) loves her, from 10 to 18. Most people’s behavior, however, will not be effected by people like Miley Cyrus, and situations like this almost make your children more unlikely to do these behaviors, seeing how stupid it looks once it is done. A teen star having sex is one thing, but if it is a tasteful shot, then where is the issue? Kids will make their own decisions as they grow older, but for now, if you are relying on a 16 year old girl to parent your kid… give up. Oh, and what kid actually looks up to Lindsay, she snorts cocaine for crying out loud and does DUI on a regular basis. I think that’s a little worse than showing skin.

anonymous February 25, 2009, 6:10 PM

Stop focusing on how bad these influences are and instead focus on how we should deal with them in our home since they are and will always be a reality

The Mother February 25, 2009, 6:37 PM

Nudity doesn’t bother me, even in role models.

I think we should be more concerned about the anorexia, drunk driving, and erratic behavior.

In short—film stars are never good role models.

Anonymous February 25, 2009, 8:20 PM

I agree with “The Mother”. I also think we shouldn’t lecture our teenage kids on what’s right and wrong. They will ignore us anyway.

ame i. February 25, 2009, 9:51 PM

I don’t consider them to be role models, but actors and entertainers. A child’s parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. are their role models.
I was minding my own business one morning as the girls ate breakfast. A morning news program announced the pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears. My kids watched Zoey 101. My then 8 year old announced: “16 is too young to have a baby!” I agreed and talked to her about it later on an 8 year old level. My talk with my then 10 year old was a bit more detailed. She had already started having her period, so she knew more about reproduction than her sister because I explained why women have menstrual cycles.
I’m 40. My parents and others were shocked when an 11 year old friend of mine was caught having sex with a 16 year old boy at the park. A 13 year old friend got pregnant and married and married an 18 year old when we were in 8th grade.
My moma always said: “The number of the year changes but people remain the same.”
What happened then can and does happen now. The first man (and only, until after his death) I had sex with became my husband soon after. We were married for 8 years when our first child was born.
It is important to arm our children with honest, open information so they will be responsible adults.

Stephen Kastner February 26, 2009, 11:35 AM

Only in America… the female breast is beautiful. In France no young women wear tops at the beach or at most pools in the summer. They don’t want those ugly tan lines. Boys and men are exposed to this beauty on a regular basis. Why are we so puritanical? Ohhh settled by the Puritans, and Christians who dominate this culture. Such a sad loss for all.

jon February 27, 2009, 5:08 AM

If this is such a dilemma, then watch the original Parent Trap with Hayley Mills.

As for how to discuss the photos, may I suggest that you start out by not freaking out about the fact that nudity and art go back only about ten-thousand years? From there, you might want to discuss how you aren’t so worried about drunk driving, anorexia, bad career choices, flashing her pudendum to paparazzi, and drug use, but are horrified that she showed her nipples. Somehow, I doubt you’re ready for that conversation.

Though, in her defense, she is dating a lovely and talented young woman.

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