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Modern Parenthood

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth: Too young to get engaged?

Miley Cyrus, 19, and Liam Hemsworth, 22, announced their engagement today, raising questions about Hollywood's romanticized depiction of (too?) young marriage and its impressions on the average teenager.

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Cyrus needs only look to her famous peers to realize that young marriage in Hollywood has some well-known failures that have become public spectacles. A few examples: Britney Spears who married Kevin Federline at 22, Ashlee Simpson who married Pete Wentz at 23, Reese Witherspoon who married Ryan Phillippe at 23, Kate Hudson who married Chris Robinson at 21, and Drew Barrymore who married Jeremy Thomas at 19.

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The report says that marriage “is one of the primary events during the transition to adulthood.” Growing up as a famous teen, Cyrus has struggled with public perception about her transition from teen role model to mature (and also rebellious) adult. In a recent interview on Amanda de Cadenet’s Lifetime show “The Conversation,” Cyrus admitted that the media spotlight has influenced her own self-image about how to be successful in Hollywood, evidenced by her increasingly sexualized outfits and open conversations about sex.

Cyrus and Hemsworth met in 2009 while filming their movie “The Last Song,” based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. The movie made its cable television premiere on Sunday as part of a Nicholas Sparks marathon including “A Walk to Remember” and “The Notebook.”

Sparks’ novels (and their movie adaptations) showcase highly romanticized notions of love and relationships.  Sure his characters deal with relationship and personal “problems,” and despite some depressing storylines, he does not portray marriage in a way that conveys the day-to-day realities of what it takes to make it work.  But who would go to see that movie anyway?

Marriage and relationships in movies, especially those targeted for teen audiences, do little to teach impressionable teenagers about the maturity of adult relationships. Parents should be aware of the messages their kids receive from teen stars, both in real life and on the screen.

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