"Mom, what's "let's go all the way" mean?"
Nothing can jolt a mom out of a traffic induced haze quite like her six year old asking that question. I glanced in my rearview mirror at my daughter and saw her casually looking out the window. As I focused my attention back on reality I noticed Katy Perry's Teenage Dream playing on the radio. I quickly switched the station and began to wrack my brain for an age appropriate answer. Luckily, the new song playing was catchy, ok for little ears and a decent diversion. At least for five minutes we had relative peace until the next song came on that needed to be switched and it took me three stations to finally find a something my kids could listen to without me having to change the station or launch into a discussion about how inappropriate some word choices might be.
It became a full time job to be aware of what was playing on the radio at all times, offer wise counsel when I thought I needed to about lyrics, change the station when necessary, to explain certain artists were generally off limits and why. The day that I couldn't find a suitable station for more than one song at a time was the day I finally gave in and tuned into the local Christian radio station.
I never wanted to be the mom who policed what her kids listened to.We have always felt that rather than cut out certain types of music,
movies, books, we would
listen/watch/read and discuss, rather than ban. Aaron and I feel (hope) that our kids will be better equipped to face the world if they know what the world is taking in. I always cringe whenever I hear someone refer to the local radio station as "secular" or when radio stations (secular or otherwise) call their playlists "safe for the whole family!" It brings to mind a conversation I had years ago with someone who believed "secular" music is damaging to worship and to our hearts and minds. The sweeping generalization didn't sit well with me, as most don't (even as I use them regularly).
We recently spent 3 hours watching a two hour superhero movie because we stopped the movie so often to talk about what was happening onscreen. It's a rough way to watch a movie, I'll admit, and out eight year old started to get a little exasperated with us, until a scene that even he felt was inappropriate came on and when we stopped it he told us why it was inappropriate. I tried that approach with music on the radio, but found it utterly exhausting. It became necessary to my sanity to make the switch away from "secular" music for the foreseeable future, just so we could have a peaceful car ride.
Now I am left wondering what to do next. My kids are 8, 6 and 4, so I have some time before those teenage years where music/media becomes an important part of a kids self expression and learning experience. We can live in a smaller world of music for now, but as my kids get older and their friends start touting the latest and greatest, I want them to be ready for it. I want them to be able to listen to the radio with discernment. I want them to be able to think for themselves about whether or not what they are listening to is honoring to God or other people and then, when I don't agree with their choices, give them the grace to figure out why. Besides, blanket bans aren't always fair. The same girl who wrote Teenage Dream also wrote this.
For now, we will listen to the limited playlists on Christian radio while I recoup my nerves before we ease back into the mainstream radio. Aside from the backseat bickering, car rides are surprisingly stress-free.