Normally when I have to talk with kids about a beloved pop star leaving the public eye, it's because they're dead. That seems to be the way it goes nowadays. A crazy rise to stardom, a seemingly never-ending series of stunts and stories to make them bigger, better, badder, crazier, more slutty, more sassy, more careless... an exhausting life led for all the world to see and mock that inevitably only ends because they die or can no longer keep up with the next big thing.
As we parents watch this exhausting and terrifying cycle, we struggle to find a way to have a serious conversation with our children. They may not be international superstars, but the challenges they face are not so different -- cyber-bullying, peer pressure, depression, drugs, alcohol and sex.
We agonize for hours over how to teach them to reach for their dreams but know their limits. How respecting themselves means making hard decisions and sometimes (maybe oftentimes) going against the greater will of the masses. We want them to learn that success cannot and should not come at the expense of your life or your sanity.
You know us. We're the same moms and dads that sit grumpily through your concerts. We're the ones buying the concert tickets, T-shirts and iTunes downloads. You don't know, but we secretly sing along with One Direction songs when our kids aren't in the car. Our kids know you and love you, and we sorta kinda (but don't tell anyone) do too.
So while there are certainly hoards of screaming tween and teenagers out there, sobbing your name and begging for you to return, please know that we're still here, a silent wall of support for you standing right behind them.
We applaud you for choosing life over fame. We celebrate and hope that you will find the peace you seek. Most of all, we thank you. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for showing our children that there is more to life than fame and fortune. You've given us a positive opportunity to remind them that no amount of money in the bank can replace a life lost and that the most important expectations are the ones we set for ourselves.