What to tell tweens about Demi Lovato entering treatment?

Demi Lovato, one of Disney’s biggest stars, checked herself into treatment center to deal with an eating disorder and cutting herself, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday night.

According to the Associated Press:

“The 18-year-old Lovato checked herself into a facility to address the concerns, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly due to the sensitivity of the matter.”

“Lovato, who is star of Disney’s “Camp Rock” movies and the sitcom “Sonny With a Chance,” was on an international tour as a special guest of the Jonas Brothers, but left the tour over the weekend to enter an undisclosed facility, according to statement released by her representative Monday night.”

” ‘Demi has decided to take personal responsibility for her actions and seek help,” the statement said. “She is doing just that. Demi and her family ask that the media respect her privacy during this difficult time.’ ”

“The statement did not specify Lovato’s problems.”

“In a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, Lovato, who has also released several records, said she had to leave middle school at one point because she was bullied so badly.”

” ‘It was more verbal harassment than physical abuse, but that’s actually more scarring than anything,’ she said. ‘And I had to leave because I just couldn’t deal with it. And I’ve home-schooled ever since.’ ”

“Lovato was linked earlier this year to Joe Jonas, her “Camp Rock” co-star, but the two later broke up and said they remained friends.”

“Her rep said Lovato regretted not finishing the tour but ‘is looking forward to getting back to work in the near future.’ “

I saw this item after my 9-year old went to bed. She LOVES Demi Lovato and in fact dressed up as her for Halloween. As I am writing this I am trying to decide what (and if) to tell my daughter about this story.

I hate to tell her in the morning before school but I don’t want classmates to tell her first. And how much do you tell a 9-year-old? Do you talk about eating disorders? Do you say she might be hurting herself? Cutting seems pretty raw for a 9-year-old to handle. I also don’t want to put any bad ideas in her head – suggest things she’s never even considered. I hope Demi gets better soon!

So what do we tell our kids/tweens who love Demi Lovato? Would you be worried about kids telling them at school before you have the chance? How much detail do you get into?

33 comments Add your comment

penguinmom

November 2nd, 2010
1:46 am

I would keep it fairly factual and not add anything that you do not know for certain. Just that she is having a hard time dealing with some issues and is taking a rest to deal with it. You can even say you don’t know what the issues are. I would probably go so far as to say the news has not even announced what the specific issues are so that no one except Demi and her family/friends really know why she is going in. That way if someone tells her that it is because of drugs or whatever, she can say that is all just rumor. I agree that talking about cutting seems a bit much to introduce to a 9-yr-old.

Personally, I try to make sure my kids know that the people on shows are not the same (and are probably not as nice) as the characters they play. My 10-yr-old daughter ‘loves’ Selena Gomez so I’ve already talked to her about the fact that Selena seems nice but some of that is her on-screen personality. I told her that Selena may or may not be a nice person in real-life and that is why I wouldn’t consider her a role-model. My daughter knows she can still enjoy the characters Selena plays and that she can enjoy Selena’s talent without putting her up onto some sort of pedestal.

(One example I give of someone who is not what they seem is the bad teen from the original Karate Kid. He is actually a committed Christian who has made evangelical films. But, in the movie, you really hate him for being such a bully.)

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shaggy

November 2nd, 2010
6:48 am

I have a novel idea. Why not just tell her the truth?

Photius

November 2nd, 2010
8:03 am

Something radical, not used too often: Tell your children the truth! Demi is looney toones, she has an eating disorder…. She eats her meal, then barfs it up…. She cuts herself for attention. Tell your children Demi is nuts, bat S%#@ crazy, they have locked her up in the rubber room. The sooner your children learn that celebrities are nothing, the better.

kathy

November 2nd, 2010
8:08 am

Penguinmom is right and cutting is a bit much to introduce to most 9 year olds.

FCM

November 2nd, 2010
8:21 am

How about pointing out that she seeking help, and taking responsibility for actions? Great lesson in personal responsibility there. Also about being a child in adult role…and why we are not always emotionally equipped to handle life…lots of room to teach….BEST thing would be to teach her not to judge Ms. Levato for being human.

Further, it is a good time to point out that actors are humans not gods.

Jesse's Girl

November 2nd, 2010
8:32 am

I tell my kids the truth….about everything. I make it age appropriate…but I tell the truth. This world is not always pretty. And they certainly need to know when “celebrities” act like….GASP…human!! Kids need to know that mistakes are made and what counts in life is how you deal with them….and learn from them.

DB

November 2nd, 2010
8:41 am

Personally, I think bringing it up before school with all the “breaking” the news to her, etc., gives the issue far more importance than it deserves. Ms. Lovato is having a hard time dealing with the pressures of fame, and chose some unhealthy ways of dealing. She’s not the first celebrity to make poor choices, and she sure won’t be the last.

Your daughter doesn’t “love” Demi Lovato – heck, she doesn’t even know her! She loves the characters that Demi Lovato plays. And if you think she’s not going to hear about it at school — think again. Heck, she’ll see it the first time she pops on a computer! The girls will be all a-twitter about it, rumor or not. Heck, T, how can you tell your daughter not to spread rumors — when you did the very same thing yourself by including the speculation on bulemia and cutting? Don’t forget the rumor that she left the tour because of a physical altercation with Ashley Greene, Joe Jonas’ new girlfriend. :-)

If she asks questions, answer them honestly. Believe me, someone at school will be all agog about the cutting, so it will probably come up. Look up some stuff on Google while she’s at school:

http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/cutting.html#

I wouldn’t bring it up, but I sure wouldn’t duck the questions, either. Matter-of-fact, with a good dose of compassion, usually does the trick.

JATL

November 2nd, 2010
9:03 am

I really wouldn’t say anything unless she brought it up. She’s 9! If she brings it up or you know she hears about it, I would be completely honest. Tell her it’s GREAT that Demi is getting treatment and that sometimes people have some emotional problems that make them do unhealthy things -like binging and purging and cutting. I would also probably throw in a description of how absolutely gross and awful both behaviors are! Remind her, PLEASE, that Demi Lovato (this is the very first time I’ve ever heard of her), is not the characters she plays and no one except her actual family, friends and co-workers really knows her.

Becky

November 2nd, 2010
9:10 am

Like Jesses Girl, I tell my two the truth in terms that they understand..The boy remembers being in Katrina, so I try not to hide things from him..

Michelle

November 2nd, 2010
9:13 am

Well, I think this is a good time to open a line of communication with the kids. I wouldn’t get too much into the “what” her problems are. I would instead focus on how important it is to be able to talk with your children about anything. Then, you can also talk about ways to handle different pressures. This girls problems didn’t just start. She has obviously had issues for a long time.

Peer pressure is a horrible thing sometimes and kids need to realize that their parents love them and don’t judge them.

Betty

November 2nd, 2010
9:16 am

I’m of the opinion that telling the truth is best–but keep the facts age-appropriate. (But I must confess that’s the tough part for me! 9 year olds today are exposed and probably have to handle alot more grown-up stuff than I ever did at 9, so I usually have a tough time knowing how much to share.

The comments she had made about being home-schooled because she was bullied so badly in middle school presents another “teachable moment” as well. With all the talk of bullying these days, some kids may relate to the fact that someone they admire has been on the receiving end and how difficult it was for her.

bunch of yentas

November 2nd, 2010
10:31 am

If my kid knew who Demi Whats-her-face was I would be highly disappointed, and then tell them I don’t want them listening to that kind of garbage in my house and then hand them a Led Zeppelin album.

My2Cents

November 2nd, 2010
10:57 am

My daughter saw it on the today show this morning and asked me about it. I told her that D left the tour and was getting help for emotional issues. My daughter (9) then cocked an eyebrow and said, “Joe?” I said, “Yeah probably.” She wasn’t surprised, but then we had previously talked about their break-up, his new girlfriend, having to tour with an ex, etc. Honestly, having to work with an ex BF who was constantly making out with his new GF in front of me would be more than I could handle. I don’t know what she’ll hear in school today, but I’ll just address that when and if it comes up. If the cutting or eating disorder or bullying comes up, I’ll explain it to her. I’m more comfortable explaining those issues than sexting or the like.

A

November 2nd, 2010
11:07 am

At times like this, I’m thankful I have a boy who is not into the latest trends, fads and pop culture. He’s almost 8, but it still happy watching Playhouse Disney (not when they show Demi whoever’s stuff) and PBS Kids. Most of the famous people he is aware of are professional athletes, bands/musicians his dad and I enjoy and authors like J.K. Rowling. He wouldn’t know Demi, Justin Bieber, Selena, Miley or any of those other kid “stars” if they came right up to him, and I am very happy about that. That said, when there is “breaking” news in the world that we feel our son should know about for whatever reason, we tell the truth, but in a way that a 2nd grader can understand and accept.

Photius

November 2nd, 2010
11:08 am

My wife and I were both musically trained: She in opera and the flute and myself in Jazz Saxophone. We always had music playing when our boy was 9 and on purpose shaped his mind by pointing out crap music – such as Demi Lovato. They can’t read music, they are products of marketing and not talent – zero talent, and should be ridiculed. We would point out to our boy even from a very young age on the piano how so much of this media music crap is made up and terrible and so simple, then we would play songs and have him play chords from the Beatles or Led Zeppelin and Beethoven and then play the CD. I am a believer that every child should also be trained to play a musical instrument so they can understand, appreciate and identify with good music and weed out the crap. Hence, it worked; my boy never liked the pop sensations and musically hasn’t fallen prey to the Madison Avenue marketing machine. People are concerned about their children watching bad TV but allow their kids to listen to pure crap turned out by marketing in order to get them to watch a TV show or buy their terrible songs or pay money to see these idiots dance in a concert and buy all the book bags, notebooks, posters – no talent. It is a disservice for a child of any age to get sucked into liking this garbage packaged a “music” with a TV show. So a bit of ridicule is allowed in my house of ripping into celebrities when they fail and pointing out no talent dim-wits like Demi Lovato.

A

November 2nd, 2010
11:26 am

@Photius, I agree with your post. While our son did watch and listen to The Wiggles when he was very, very young, and I wouldn’t lump them in with the awful pop music being aimed at kids because I considered them mostly educational, the only other “kids” music he likes is by They Might Be Giants (who I was a fan of in college for their grown-up music) and other acts that are what I consider “real” musicians. When I hear the terrible pop music they play at school events, I just roll my eyes and my son laughs along because he is on the same page about what I call fake, bubble gum music. Instead, I take him to the ASO family concerts, and we have a lot of classical music on an iPod *and* he takes piano to (as Photius says) learn what music really is.

ReginaJ

November 2nd, 2010
11:39 am

If you feel the need to tell your daughter that one of her celeb “idols” has issues, then you should. You don’t necessarily have to go into detail about what Lovato is getting help for unless your daughter asks, then you should tactfully tell her. Also, I agree with DB above who says your daughter is in love with the CHARACTERS Lovato plays, and NO ONE except Lovato’s parents (and perhaps not even them at this point) knows who or what the real Demi Lovato is like. That’s the problem with celebrities- we fantasize about being their friend or knowing them after we see them play characters, or see them do an interview in a magazine or on TV. That doesn’t mean we know them. Bottom line, let your daughter know that no matter who you are, whether you’re famous or nto, no matter how much money you may have from being a celebrity, you still have problems and issues just like everybody else. Money/fame/fortune does not equal happiness- ever.

http://www.paragonfinancial.net/

Kate

November 2nd, 2010
12:00 pm

I can understand what others have said about telling your daughter the truth, but I don’t know how it would even be possible for you to put things like cutting and eating disorders into terms a 9 year old would understand. I’m an adult, as well as a former teenage girl, and I don’t even understand them. You’re right to be concerned about what she hears at school, though. My son is 8 and I am absolutely astonished at how sophisticated some of his classmates are, particularly the girls. They know quite a bit about a lot of terms I didn’t even know existed at their age. Your daughter’s classmates will probably be talking about this and she will hear things that are even worse than the truth, so you’ll have to talk to her about whether you want to or not, but hopefully you won’t have to get into too much detail.

Betty

November 2nd, 2010
12:13 pm

Wow Photius. Congrats to you and your wife for your training and talent. And I agree on the importance of having our children learn a musical instrument. But to go so far as to ridicule and call people you don’t know dim-wits,etc–and to teach your kid to do the same–chill out man!

I’m not that familiar with these Disney stars and other pop sensations and I’ll agree that they are part of the marketing machine that I, too, have issues with. But as a shy person myself, I’m impressed with kids who can get up on stage and capitvate an audience the way they do. Their talent may not be musical in your book, but from someone who can’t carry a tune, would never have the courage to get up on stage for anything, I still think they have gift of sorts. Hopefully, some of them will use it for good in the world…….who knows.

FCM

November 2nd, 2010
1:20 pm

@ Photius: My children know Queen, ABBA, and the Rolling Stones. I play them for them. I was never a fan of the Beatles so it simple hasn’t come up.

However they also know the Jonai, Lavoto, and the rest of the Disney crew. In general they don’t like it they just hear it alot on the bus since Radio Disney is “approved” by the school.

Then again they know Lady Gaga and Alicia Keyes too….I am just not a Gaga fan.

I absolutely agree with you about them learning an intrument. Eledest plays viola and the other is starting to show interest in learning to play something. I also took the eldest to the HS orchestra play last week. That really helped her to refocus.

Lesa

November 2nd, 2010
1:27 pm

My daughters, aged 7 and 9, like Demi Lovato. I will tell them the truth about her having an eating disorder. I’ve suspected this for a while since she is so much thinner that she was on the first season of her show. I never pass up an opportunity to talk to my girls about how they don’t need to try to look as “thin” and “perfect” as the girls on TV and in magazines. I show them evidence of doctored photos that make people look better than they really look. I tell them about how some celebrities ruin their health in order to be thinner. I point out the plastic surgery celebrities get and emphasize how goofy I think this is. I tell them how stupid it is to do drugs and how it always leads to trouble. I want to be very open with them on these subjects. I understand why they like TV stars. I did too when I was their age. I just want to be sure they know they are not perfect and they shouldn’t use them as role models.

Unlike Photius, I’m not going to push my music onto my kids at too young an age. I loved the Sex Pistols and The Clash as a teenager, but don’t think my little girls are ready for that. There is no harm in young children listening to music that speaks to them on their level of development. I listened to bubble gum music, but outgrew it. I’m sure my girls will, too.

PickinNits

November 2nd, 2010
1:32 pm

Honestly, I’m not sure that telling a 9 year old child about someone cutting is going to have any effect on them other than to inspire empathy. If your child is not mentally/emotionally disturbed already, then its not at all likely that they are going to cut themselves to “be like Demi Lovato”. If your child is emotionally fragile in that manner then they are going to find their own self destructive methods without any encouragement.

Jessica

November 2nd, 2010
1:36 pm

My daughter is a little too young to notice these things just yet, but I don’t like the idea of her idolizing teen pop stars anyway. These kids may be talented/successful/pretty, but a lot of them run into trouble or make bad decisions. Really, who thinks it’s a good idea for them to be role models in the first place?

JJ

November 2nd, 2010
1:50 pm

Just tell your kids she’s yet another dimwitted celeb who can’t handle the pressure of stardom.

LD

November 2nd, 2010
1:59 pm

what happened to the mom’s with fowl mouths blog? did someone get too ugly?

motherjanegoose

November 2nd, 2010
5:50 pm

I know nothing about this person.

I do want to share that FOREVER AGO when Britney Spears first surfaced a neighbor mentioned how cute she was. This was a Mother. I laughed and said,
“looks like trouble to me…”

I think it is VERY difficult for any young star not to get sucked into things that they may regret later.
Fame does have it’s price and money will not solve all problems…contrary to what many folks may think.

I was never a Mama who would go out and buy bookbags and T-shirts with teen idols on them, for my kids.Maybe this may have had to do with the fact that my own Mother would not let me wear the ORIGINAL Beatles sweatshirt that my cousin passed down in a bag of clothes….too radical and my Mother was under 30 at the time…LOL.

penguinmom

November 2nd, 2010
6:04 pm

I did take the opportunity today to reiterate to my daughter that pop-stars aren’t appropriate role models. We discussed the difference between a person and the character they play. I discussed someone going into rehab to get some help for a problem they can’t seem to handle on their own. Didn’t bring up cutting, that is a thought i don’t want to put into her head.

BluebellJones

November 2nd, 2010
6:06 pm

Just tell them that Disney is evil. They don’t call it Mauswitz for nothing.

Random

November 3rd, 2010
7:55 pm

Just tell the truth, I could handle that kind of stuff when I was nine and so should you’re child. But then again I lived in a rough part of town.

Tinkergirl

November 4th, 2010
12:29 am

@penguinmom Selena Gomez is an embassedor for Unicef….

Jesse's Girl

November 4th, 2010
8:15 am

Hey Photius….I may be in need of a good sax player very soon. Theresa can give you email.