“I got the moves like Jagger…” Really? You do?

A picture of a pair of Grado SR-60 headphones ...
A picture of a pair of Grado SR-60 headphones used to illustrate the design of "supra-aural" (on the ear) headphones in the article Headphones. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Aimee,I feel the music my teen listens to is rude and inappropriate, but of course they disagree. Where do you draw the line on music and language in the home, and how do you enforce it?

One day my husband and I were riding in the car and he was singing along to a country song. He knew every word and seemed to be enjoying himself. I tuned in and noticed the lyrics were about this guy leaving his wife. I turned down the volume and asked him if there was some hidden message in his lively karaoke rendition. He just paused and stared at me quizzically. He had absolutely no idea what he had been singing about. After a few minutes, or hours, of me lecturing him on all the reasons why such lyrics are the source of all marriage degradation in the United States, he switched the station. I may have been a little dramatic, but my point is that many times songs slip into our playlists unchecked. Your teen may not have any idea of what the real message behind the tune may be. The best method I have found is to print out the lyrics and sit down for a heart to heart. This seems to garnish better results than a knee-jerk censorship. The goal is to help guide your teen to develop similar values as yours, and sometimes a calm, rational, and honest conversation actually works.

As for the language, I can appreciate how some words take a thought to the next level or up the intensity of a statement. My father called these “colorful” words, and I have been guilty of spicing up a phrase or two myself. However, I don’t want my kids’ opportunities in life to be limited by an untamed or offensive tongue. So I teach them that there is such a thing as vulgarity, and the strength by which others accept it varies greatly. Therefore, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and keep your public language clean. Listening regularly to music with harsh lyrics makes it easier for an un-choice word to slip out at an inopportune moment.

Lastly, filling your mind, life, and day with positive words can only be a good thing. There is so much negativity in the world we can’t control. I want the things my teens choose to invite into their day to be good and uplifting. That’s my rule, but they don’t always agree. So I will leave you with my last bit of empowering advice for when reasoning, explaining, and talking with your teen doesn’t seem to work. This is a phrase my own kids have come to know and love. “I am the queen, this is my castle, and my word is law. I may not be able to enforce the “off with your head” clause, but I certainly have the authority to execute your media devices anytime I wish. So let’s see some smiles and a little show of appreciation for the benevolent ruler that I am.”

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4 thoughts on ““I got the moves like Jagger…” Really? You do?

  1. I love this! We are struggling with this issue with lyrics in my house and I don’t even have teens yet (my oldest is 10). I love your rule and am totally copying it in my house. Thanks for the advice.

  2. This is “sound” advice. Ha! That was a pun. Seriously, you made me think of Paul’s guidance in Ephesians to “speak to one another in pslams, hymns, and spiritual songs.” What we take into ourselves–and what our parents and authority figures allow–really does influence what comes out. Words, and songs, that build up and edify redeem us.

  3. My young adult daughter and I had a similar conversation in the car yesterday–and we agreed. I recalled a hit song on the radio when I was in my teens. Several words were bleeped out, so my mother assumed (rightly so) that they must be shocking and rude. At 14, I fell short of repeating the lyrics to her, but assured her the words really weren’t that bad–no worse than what kids said in school.

    Looking back now, I am thankful that the lyrics were bleeped, because, as an adult, I can appreciate freedom in expression of art, no matter the form, but I do not want young children, unaware of the content, singing along word for word, and then taking that language to the playground at recess. Expression is well and good, but mind that people outside your target audience may receive your message.

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