As a parent, I screw up all the time. And I’ve pretty much made it my mission at Blisstree to shore up other mothers. But it’s been tough not to judge this whole Demi-Rumer-pole-dancing debacle. In case you aren’t a Hollywood gossip hound, reportedly, 47-year-old Demi Moore recently performed an impromptu pole dance at a party at the Chateau Marmont in L.A. (Wait…Demi actually wants people to remember Striptease?) She then pulled her 21-year-old daughter up and taught her some on-the-fly exotic moves while the crowd (mostly fellow A-listers, including Jennifer Aniston) cheered. Two words: Indecent. Proposal.
Admittedly, erotic dancing is just another form of exercise these days: Crunches and Equinoxes across the country offer pole-dancing classes, and there are at least a dozen how-to-act-super-slutty-at-home DVDs available on Amazon.com. Perhaps Demi was feeling nostalgic for the old days. (Sorry to bring up Striptease again.) But, hello, if you dress up for a party in a public place and then twirl upside down on a stripper pole in front of a bunch of boisterous drunk people, it’s pretty porn-y – even if you’re not getting paid. And hey, I’m all for porn-y, but porn-y with your kid? To quote my six-year-old girl: “That’s just icky.”
It gets even ickier if one of the hooting audience members (Leonardo DiCaprio) reportedly high-fives your mom’s much younger husband (Ashton Kutcher, 32). From an anonymous source who talked to the press (see New York Daily News): “Ashton put his arms around both Demi and Rumer and looked like the proudest man in the room.” No matter how innocent the situation may have been, it doesn’t take a shrink to know that no 21-year-old is going to benefit from the father-daughter-mother-threesome sexual scenarios this little scene might cultivate in the minds of party-goers.
But while this particular situation is obviously extreme, Demi is hardly alone. We are a generation of parents who constantly cross boundaries in the name of looking cool to our kids. And how can we not? We don’t want to recreate our own childhoods, when parenting skills pretty much consisted of scaring the crap out of us in order to get us to behave. So we talk. We share. We explain. We wheedle. And then when nothing works, we lose our cool.
A decade into my own momhood, I’ve realized that my favorite “cool” parents are actually the ones who have no trouble saying no, who sometimes get mad, but are almost always kind, who set some fairly strict boundaries – and whose kids seem sane and happy as a result. Some of them do it instinctively, others turn to a helpful parenting book or two (Blessing of a Skinned Knee is an especially good one) to validate an inkling that it’s time to toughen up. And so, in our house, we now operate with the belief that the kids need someone to fight and define themselves against – how else can we ensure that we end up being a safe haven when their own so-called “cool” behavior backfires? It’s a tough job, and we have to do it.
Anyway, I still can’t let go of my notion that Demi had to have her own good (if misguided) reasons for allegedly channeling Bada-Bing club dancers with her first-born. So, here goes: There’s no getting around the fact that Rumer, who looks a lot like dad Bruce Willis, is not Demi-level striking. Not a comfortable reality for either daughter or mom. So is Demi done with parenting now that Rumer has hit legal drinking age? Or is it possible that maybe – just maybe – Demi felt badly about upstaging her daughter, and wanted to share some of the spotlight with her? Was Demi just trying, in her own messed-up-celebrity-mama-bear way, to be a good mom?
After all, that’s how most of us screw up.
Sharlene Breakey is a freelance writer and consulting editor living in New York City. She has always been happiest when successfully mixing work – for ReadyMade, Hallmark, Time Out New York Kids, Travel + Leisure Family, and Instyle – with motherhood.