I was reading an article in Parents magazine this week (The article is from September and I just got around to reading it. I have four kids remember!). It basically says we do a disservice to our children by making the world kid-centric. I'm kind of surprised by that response as several of the experts cited are people I respect and follow, like Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids, and generally agree with.
While I am not a helicopter parent in any way, I do, according to this article, bend our adult world down to my children instead of making them reach up to it. In most instances I just can't understand why you wouldn't. They are only kids once and for a short time. You as a parent are the main influencer in their life for what ten years? If they live to the average age in the U.S. of 78 that's only 12 percent of their entire life.
Take music for example. Something that is often criticized in these articles is the explosion of children's music. I wonder if the writers have listened to any modern music lately?
Growing up, we listened to oldies in the car with my parents. Songs by the likes of Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. The Rolling Stones probably had the most questionable lyrics of anything we listened to.
Turn on a pop station today and what will your kids hear?
"Royals" - But every song's like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin' in the bathroom. Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin' the hotel room. We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
"Wrecking Ball" - All you ever did was wreck me. Yeah, you, you wreck me. Yeah, you, you wreck me.
Drake - I got my eyes on you. You're everything that I see. I want your hot love and emotion endlessly.
And these are the mild lyrics. Today's music tackles bigger issues than sock hops and the lyrics are racier and more explicit every year. If you think your kids just hear the hook or the beat and don't understand the lyrics, you're fooling yourself. Last Christmas after singing "Silent Night" for the umpteenth time in preparation for the school performance my son blurts out to his teacher, "What's a virgin?"
Trust me, they are hearing everything.
Once you open that Pandora's box there is no shutting it. Once the adult world has been exposed there is no going back. They will have a lifetime of music, books, TV and news reports filled with ever present issues for them to debate, battle and wrestle with in their minds.
For right now, for these early years, I want them to learn those lessons slowly - from people they trust and care about. Besides, kids music has come a long way and can actually be helpful. One day in the not too distance future, I won't be the one controlling the dial. But while I am, I'm going to keep it firmly turned to happy-go-lucky catchy tunes. They have the other 88 percent of their life to worry about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Right now the only worry is if we are listening to Peter, Paul and Mary or if the toddler gets to pick VeggieTales, again.
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
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