Thursday 8 May 2014

Do you censor the music your children listen to?

Just recently I’ve been thinking more and more about the music that my children listen to. The majority of music I play is Christian worship songs and thus they do not contain any worrying or illicit lyrics, so all the time we have been listening to this music there have not been any issues. Then for a number of years the only other kind of CD’s I bought were nursery rhymes and kiddie pop songs from the Early Learning Centre.

Now at nearly 11 years JJ is really getting into his music and of course his friends all talk and share music preferences at school. This means we have more recently bought some ‘Now that’s what I call music CD’s’ and naively I had not considered if all the songs on them would be appropriate. I started to buy these CD’s (well OK, they were records thirty years ago) when I was about ten or eleven too and I can’t remember any issues with them back then.

I do recall songs being banned when I was a kid though and the one that really sticks in my mind is ‘Relax’ by Frankie goes to Hollywood. The BBC would not give it airplay and this sent a very clear message that the language in this song was unacceptable. Nowadays sadly there seems to be a lack of what is acceptable and what is not being conveyed to our kids. Some might say it is a good thing that the media are not taking our choices away and it is a parents responsibility to educate and monitor their children's listening habits but I have to confess it is a minefield. There is so much out there, how am I supposed to listen to and censor all music to ensure it is appropriate?

Nowadays songs cover all manner of topics and some of the lyrics and themes behind the songs are pretty appalling. I’m sure we are all aware of rap songs with lyrics which degrade women, promote gun culture and encourage drug taking but how does it now come to a point where one of the very mainstream commercial CD’s like ‘Now that’s what I call music’ contains songs like ‘Talk Dirty’ by Jason Derulo feat. 2 Chainz and ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke?

So what is wrong with Blurred Lines you might ask?  I actually had this conversation with my husband and he said to me 'really listen to the words Michelle'. So I did and what did I hear? 'I know you want it'. 'You're an animal', 'You the hottest bitch in this place', 'Must want to get nasty' and wait for it this is the one that really upset me 'I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two'. Just imagine how this could pan out, I have two six year old girls who like to sing and dance, putting on little performances and would I want them to sing those lyrics?  No way and I'm sure you wouldn't want your kids to either.

I remember the first time we were all in the car after a school pick up and we played our new Now CD and Talk Dirty started. The first thing I noticed was the beat, it was good, very catchy and I wanted to tap my feet and listen more. Then all of a sudden I realised what I was listening to and also realised that in my body language I was promoting that my 6 and 10 year old children sing about sex and talking dirty specifically.  I think everyone would agree that is seriously not right. Since that first time that song has not been played again and I had to just tell the girls it contains rude words and JJ (at age 10) I was able to explain what talking dirty is. His reaction was one of disgust ‘why would someone write a song about that Mum? that’s disgusting, it should not be allowed on my CD’.

Of course there is nothing wrong with a bit of dirty talk between two consenting adults as part of their private enjoyment but why does it need to be in a song?  If it was in a movie it would be classified as at least a 12A and therein probably lies some of the problem, there really is no sort of corporate censorship of music today.

So I suppose we just have to do our best and censor what we can. I don’t want my kids to live in a bubble, I’m not trying to pretend that bad stuff does not happen, nor that people do have sex. I just want my children to remain children and not to sing about or even have to think too much about sex, drugs, drink, violence, rape, gangs or anything else that should have nothing to do with a healthy childhood. Surely that is not too much to ask, is it?

Go on, tell me your opinion and please share how you have successfully navigated this path with your older kids.

Thanks, Mich x
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