Now that I’m a parent… I still don’t understand

Years ago, when I first came across the whole ‘explicit lyrics’ label debate, I got into a discussion with a young mother about censoring lyrics of songs at the source.  I was told, in no uncertain terms, that keeping the ears of children safe was more important than free speech and “When you’re a parent, you’ll understand”.

So I decided that I would never insist that others censor what my kids might hear.  I would have to come up with another strategy to handle it if they *did* hear inappropriate things (say, on the radio or at a friends house).   My husband and I came up with a radical plan.  We would talk to our children.

It works like this.   If the children and I are together and a song comes on the radio which offends me (or them) we change the station.   If they are simply listening to/singing a song which I don’t think is appropriate for them  I ask them what it means and we discuss it.  Sooner or later, as a responsible parent I will have to discuss all sorts of things with my children, and I thought this would be a good ‘in’ to those discussions.  In reality, it has had the effect that they immediately turn off music they don’t think I will appreciate.  It’s not what I was aiming for, but I’ll take it…

A few years ago, when a pre-teen friend of one of the children turned on ‘the station’ her own mother won’t let her listen to in my car I tried the same thing.  You know what?  She answered the question.  Thoughtfully…. and she seemed to appreciate that I had asked it.

As the children mature, and issues having to do with internet safety and privacy have come up, I’ve been more and more convinced that I took the right tactic.  My eldest and I recently had a discussion about what pictures are not appropriate to post to FaceBook, even though they are lovely pictures and would be ideal for a personal scrap book.   Those same class of mothers who were flipping out over controversial lyrics in the 90’s are now reading their children’s e-mail without their permission and getting caught at it.

My own children have also been taught that anything posted on the internet is public, and sent through the internet is semi-private at best, but that’s the subject of a whole other post.

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3 Responses

  1. My kids are now 25 and 24, and I still don’t understand the whole censorship thing. In one instance, my daughter told me she had gone searching for pictures of a particular actor. She said, “I found pictures they said were him, but they didn’t look like him, and he had no pants on.” I responded cheerfully, “That’s what your back button is for.” I’d rather do that than to find that some nanny software has prevented her from learning about birth control or breast self-exams.

  2. When something similar happened here I taught my kids how to turn the google ‘safe search’ feature on and off. I also made sure they knew they could talk to me if they found anything which bothered them or upset them.

  3. ‘Course, there was the reaction I got from Catherine, when I popped in a CD on the way home from soccer and she exclaimed, “OMG, you do listen to hip-hop!”

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