When kids and music don’t mix

Hubby and I have a tradition in our home, something that we’ve enjoyed doing since our child was a toddler. My husband, especially, loves it so much that he even does it in the car to and from work. But now that our daughter is getting a bit older, I’m trying to decide if this tradition of ours is actually helping or harming her. What is it, you ask? Well, let me tell you: hubby, the little one, and I love listening to cheesy dance music.

At first, it was great. We’d crank up our pre-set iTunes list, twirl around the apartment, and lose ourselves inside the music’s syncopated rhythms. Most Saturdays, our house looked like a family-friendly version of Flashdance, with bodies flailing. After a long week, those 20 minutes of shaking our booties were the perfect way to relax and reconnect. I’d add in weights for a little strength training, and we’d cheer each other on after a particularly daring or silly new move was attempted.

Inevitably, while listening to these songs, I started to learn their lyrics, and what I heard was not exactly music to my ears. Wow, talk about sex. Literally. Is it me, or do all songs these days seem to talk about nothing but sex? Well, OK, I’m exaggerating. It’s more like 80 percent. The other 20 percent seems to be about stealing, getting drunk, or doing something that is considered at least a misdemeanor in most of the United States of America.

Now I don’t mean to sound prude. I’ve got a wild side. But, as a mom with a 5-year-old, I don’t know how comfortable I am having my daughter listen to songs with lines such as “Cheers to the frickin’ weekend,” “I’m sexy and I know it,” “They got their guns out aiming at me,” or “Watch me move, when I lose, when I lose it hard.”

Some of you reading this probably think I’m overreacting. Songs about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll have been around forever. And I agree, to a certain extent; I remember hearing songs with sexual over- and undertones when I was a kid. George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” was a very befuddling example, which I used to croon, along with my parents, during long car rides to visit my very traditional Eastern European grandparents in the Bronx.

But as a parent, I’m torn. My daughter doesn’t yet know what sex is. (She almost accidently discovered it, though, while getting a drink of water late in the night on New Year’s Eve, but we quickly threw on the PJ’s and deftly – perhaps also mistakenly – made up a whole story about the “Grown Up Dance Party.” We are so headed to family therapy.) So does it matter that she’s singing or listening to songs about sex?

And, following that, could racy music actually be a starting point for thoughtful discussions about tricky topics like sex, or is it better to just stick with stories about the birds and the bees? I have my ideas. What are yours?

Wendy Widom, Partner, Families in the Loop

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