Her political skit and sendup of her own VMAs performance sent one very clear and important message to her fans: I'm not in trouble, I'm just this person that I've always been. That, combined with the hash jab at Bynes, suggest that Cyrus already knows how this could end badly for her. Spears' own well-documented stumbles and struggles with mental health, public image and adjustment to family life displayed just how hard it can be to navigate real life's intersection with stardom. Combined with Bynes' recent legal, mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as those of fellow Disney kid Demi Lovato, Spears' experience threw up a warning sign that Cyrus is heeding all too well.

Naturally, those are exactly the experiences that adults are wary of and that parents want to shield their kids from as much as possible. But that's the whole point of Miley Cyrus' Bangerz exercise: Nobody involved is a kid anymore. Hannah Montana is gone and Cyrus and her fans are young adults. She's going through the same experiences and problems as people her age -- albeit more publicly.

Exploring sexuality, trying on new identities, making stupid faces in hundreds of pictures and making some big mistakes along the way are all common steps toward forming an adult persona and hallmarks of young adulthood. Fans Cyrus' age know that, and the fact that her own metamorphosis is angering and frustrating her parents in the same way theirs is only bolsters Cyrus' credibility.

It'll pay off, too. Timberlake's Justified sold nearly 4 million copies in the U.S. alone. Aguilera's Stripped sold more copies in the U.S. than her two previous albums, Mi Reflejo and My Kind Of Christmas, combined. And Spears? Even her weakest albums go platinum in the U.S., though her latest, this year's Femme Fatale, hasn't quite made it yet.

As of Monday, Cyrus had three singles -- Wrecking Ball, Adore You and We Can't Stop -- among the Top 10 downloads on Apple's ( AAPL) iTunes. Bangerz was the No. 1 downloaded album overall. She's treading into new territory and has some new friends including Spears, will.i.am, Pharell Williams, Ludacris, Nelly, Big Sean and French Montana along for the ride. She's really into hip-hop and dance pop now and seems to be having a lot of fun with it.

She's different from the Miley her fans grew up with, but she now more likely resembles a person they hang out with -- or at least share space with. For parents and the other olds frightened, frustrated or just confused by it all, it may be time to just wish her the best and let her go. She's making her own business and life decisions now, and you just don't factor into them as much anymore.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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