We missed Miley’s rise and fall. We narrowly escaped Bieber Fever. My kids didn’t become Swifties or Directioners. Then, it finally happened. My middle schooler became a victim of pop music fandom for the first time.
Our family keeps the radio tuned to our local Christian music station; we aren’t exposed to much pop music. My kids hear the latest songs at school and while hanging out with their friends. After a friend introduced her to a popular band, my daughter seemed to learn the entire album overnight. She sang the songs non-stop, played the videos on YouTube, and looked up band factoids on Google.
I panicked. My Christian kid seemed bewitched by a secular musical duo. My first instinct was to block it from our music streaming service. However, I realized this is the first of many fan fevers our household will likely experience. The issue is not this band in particular but the principle of making wise media choices.
What can Christian parents do when their kids want to listen to popular music?
Don’t panic. A harsh reaction can break trust. Maintain open communication with your child. Listen to what they have to say. A calm, thoughtful response will encourage your child to keep talking to you about their music choices.
Do your research. The Internet makes it easy to find information about your child’s playlist. Sites such as Plugged In and Common Sense Media provide album reviews from a moral perspective. Reading a band’s Twitter feed, concert reviews, and industry interviews give parents an idea of the artist’s values (or lack thereof).
Listen to the music with your child. The best way to train your child to make wise choices about music is to model it. YouTube versions often contain lyrics making it easier to determine the message of the song (you may want to screen videos for appropriate content). As you listen, ask thoughtful questions like, “How do you feel after listening to this song?”, “What effect will this explicit language/content have on you?”, and “Does the message of this song line up with God’s Word?” The goal is to train your child to think about their choices instead of listening because something is popular.
Offer an alternative. If you determine a song or artist is inappropriate, help your child find a similar sound with a positive message. For example, exchange Drake’s explicit rap for LeCrae’s edifying lyrics. Lauren Daigle’s album is full of strong, spiritual ballads without the mature themes found in Adelle’s latest release. These substitutes will not solve the problem of “all my friends listen to it,” but it does provide the sound without the smut.
Lay a foundation for media use. We can also guide movie, book, game, and social media decisions. Keep an open dialogue about ways your family values influence media choices. Philippians 4:8 is an excellent verse to use as a filter: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things.”
Instead of immediately yanking my daughter’s tunes, we researched the band, listened to the songs together, and talked about the possible meaning behind the lyrics. After going through this process, we determined this band aligned with our values. Their music got the parental stamp of approval. In the process, we helped my daughter establish guidelines for the future.