My husband and I have been disagreeing about the music we let our kids listen to in the car. Bryan’s concerned that kids today know too much too soon. Keeping their song choices “wholesome,” he continues to argue, will help them stay innocent and, well, wholesome a little longer.
At first I said he was being uptight. Furthermore, we have four kids ranging from 10 months to 8 years old. They all have different tastes and interests in music.
He asked me to consider how hyper-vigilent our culture is about seat belts, helmets, car seat rules that become more stringent every two years, portion regulation in some cities, and several other non-character-development “issues.” He wanted to know why we couldn’t spend at least a modicum of the time we pour into those areas of our kids’ lives into protecting their wholesomeness for just a little while longer.
“I know why we can’t worry about all that character stuff,” I said. “Because we’re all too busy making sure they’ve mastered soccer, piano, ice-skating, and pre-reading skills before the first day of kindergarten.”
“So you agree with me,” he said.
It seemed that I did. And I still do. And while I’d love for my kids to avoid getting jaded by the realities of the world for as long as possible, I can’t listen to Justin Roberts and Laurie Berkner until the end of time. Bryan absolutely gets that point, which is why he’s always pushing me to listen to the classical station or even Sirius Radio’s 40s and 50s channels.
Guess who spends the most time in the car with the kids? Spoiler alert: it isn’t Bryan. So yes, I concur that classical music and some of the cheery refrains from the past are better for the kids than say, Lady Gaga’s insistence that “Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun. And baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun,” I can’t say that I feel as strongly about this issue as Bryan does.
I compromised by promising to change the station when a song is clearly inappropriate. I also take long breaks from the radio and have the kids listen to Broadway shows like Annie and The Sound of Music, which tends to stay in the realm of “clean” (drunk, flirtatious Miss Hannigan and Liesl’s Nazi “older and wiser” boyfriend, Rolf, aside).
That seemed to work for a while until our 3-year-old daughter spent half of the summer singing the unfortunately catchy LMFAO lyric, “I’m sexy and I know it.” I agree with Bryan we’ve got a problem on our hands when I can’t even tell her what the name of the band means. And how did our daughter know the song? Well, she exists in the world, for starters. She goes to stores and spends time in other people’s cars. She is also our third, and she probably heard her brother and sister singing it, too.
This is where plenty of parents will argue with Bryan that if the kids will likely hear the music anyway, why not let them hear it with their own parents who can answer any questions on the spot?
Bryan insists that what we allow and don’t allow influences the children. That letting them know their parents have standards above and beyond what’s acceptable in the general culture is not the worst thing.
“Higher standards!” I hear some of you scoffing. “Isn’t that judgmental?”
Well, I have to agree with Bryan here. Aren’t we as parents allowed and expected to make judgement calls for our kids during this short time when they’re under our roofs? I think it’s completely fair to acknowledge that some lyrics and images are more appropriate than others, but that doesn’t make it’s easy to keep the less desirable words and pictures out of the our lives. We don’t, after all, live in a bubble.
I’m wondering how other parents keep their kids from lyrics and images not suited for their ages. And if you don’t, how exactly do you explain to your 3-year-old or even your 10-year-old what it means to be “sexy and know it?”