Parenting conundrum no. 7583: how much to regulate the pre-teen’s musical choices. any ideas?
This was my status on FB a few days ago, and it led to some interesting conversation with some friends (most of whom are bloggy friends). I thought I’d reproduce the discussion for posterity, and so I can look back on it when FenFox is more grown up and laugh at my own naïveté!
As a pre-teen that was always obsessed (and still is) with music I say don’t regulate. Just show an interest in what she likes and ensure you know the content-I.e if it is overtly sexual, violent or just has awful messages. If you regulate she’ll build up ansgt and Stop telling you what she listens to, and she will find a way to access it. Just my two cents!
i’m with owlie
I don’t think it’s realistic to compare our experience in youth to the environment FenFox is growing up in now. I think the world is a vastly different place and the level of explicitness in music, film, media etc is vastly higher, not necessarily sexually but in the kind of prejudice and bigotry that I’ve heard, and the ridiculousness of the whole raunch culture as they call it. Also, she’s not that interested in music, it’s a very recent development which I suspect is more peer pressure than genuine regard. We regulate what she watches and reads and will continue to do so, I don’t see how music is any different. There are things like racism, misogyny, homophobia and bigotry that she shouldn’t be exposed to as “entertainment”
so our challenge is to decide whether to regulate in terms of the awfulness that Lazyboo outlined or to just pay attention and talk to her about it… we are leaning towards regulating only those things and letting the sexually explicit and violent (sans bigotry) stuff go, even though it makes me cringe to think about her listening to that stuff.
a bit over my head
so you guys wouldn’t regulate at all? I see your point, Owlie, about the angst and the not telling us and finding it elsewhere but am still very conflicted about even tacitly approving of such things… we are and will attempt to remain very aware of what she listens to, but am just not sure how I would respond if she did want to listen to something awful. Thanks for your thoughts, it is good to talk it through!
it’s a really tricky problem (that i obviously haven’t had to face yet!). But i think that you can express very clearly what you think and the reasons why, without actually banning stuff – that is, there doesn’t have to be tacit approval in any way. i agree that the environment now is even more extreme than when we were 12 but this is also the environment that she will be living in for the rest of her life (and as much as i’d like it to improve i deeply doubt that it will). can you find some kind of balance between giving her the tools to critically analyse the crap and also somehow protecting her from the worst of it? i was like Owlie though – the only book my mum said she didn’t want me to read i immediately read when she had her back turned! how much control do you actually have?
i think it would be impossible to regulate without completely invading her privacy and therefore causing serious issues between you and her. I also think (and I still have idealistic views of what relationship i will have with my kids when they are older) that music is a fantastic way of relating to your kid and finding out where they are at, ifyou regulate it you won’t get that oppurtunity. Also, if you take an interest and get her to talk about why she likes the bad stuff, at least you will get the chance to talk to her about why you think it is awful, biggoted or violent. If you stop her from listening, she’ll listen by herself or with her friends and decide for herself what it means, and it will possibly have more impact because she won’t have you to help her decipher the messages. BUT like I said, my oldest is 5 and perhaps I have unrealistic expectations about what my relationship will be like…no doubt I’ll be eating my words and I’ll be asking you for advice in about 4 yrs!
out of interest, what music does she like?
I don’t think it’s a matter of blanket rules and though I take Lazyboo’s point, I think that case-by-case or as the need arises is the best approach. And I’d pick my battles very very carefully. The chance of her being into super offensive gangsta rap or death metal is fairly low (in fact it makes me giggle to think of gorgeous little FenFox with dollar signs around her neck). Some stuff will go over her head. Other stuff, she won’t even really notice the content. If it’s truly awful, I’d probably encourage against it, and I’d definitely make sure she knew my objection to the content (you guys already have these conversations all the time about lots of current affair and pop culture goings on) but trying to stop it will be met with much resistance and will ensure she closes down (and will prob find other channels to drive you nuts).
I’m curious. Is there something in particular that she’s listening to that has sparked this train of thought?
(I love that we were all typing at the same time and came up with variations of the same thing!)
In terms of control and privacy right now, we have a lot of control and she has very little privacy, not that she actually wants it yet. She’s only 10 and currently has no means of independent spending or gaining of music (apart from copies from her friends). She is still so beautifully innocent – all this came up because she is buying her first ipod next week (or we are for her with her ‘savings’ that have all come from us) and also because she called today from a friend’s house to ask if she could have a copy of a cd because we have been talking about this with her lately. She still tells us everything and is very respectful of the boundaries we give her. We are under no illusion that this will last though, and the next three years are going to be tumultuous as our control wanes while her need for privacy grows. So far she is just asking for such things as Pink and Kesha and Lady Gaga, all of whom I have no problem with (even though they have sparked interesting conversations about sex, but that is certainly nothing new!)
to clarify somewhat, it’s not death metal and gansta rap and such that bothers me so much, it’s the more insidious stuff – for example
my pre-parent self would have argued strongly that there should be absolutely no interference, just general guidance and talk about why some things may be popular but embody a broader bad. give them the critical tools and let them come to an understanding themselves.
but i think now my parent self will be happy to ban stuff that is sexist andhomophobic. now that i think about it i have already thrown out children’s picture books that i felt were inappropriate (religious dogma, sexist crap ie the disney girls make-up book for little kids. really. horrible crap.)
i do think about the Twinkle growing up in the age of the internet, tween-agers, boob tubes for five years old, access to anything digital, and worry about how to manage it without being overly-militant and didactic.
She’s 10, so I think it’s perfectly acceptable that you discuss and agree to some limits re sexual content and violence and stuff like that. As for sheer musical awfulness, I think less comment is better.