Reality check: Fine-tuning your family's music choices

Q: I have twins in the eighth grade. Over the past few years, they have developed an increasing interest in popular music. I listened to a few of the songs recently and was disturbed by some of the content. My kids tell me everyone listens to this stuff and that it’s no big deal, but I feel uncomfortable letting them listen to just anything. What should I do to minimize the influence I feel this type of music may have on my family?

A: The old-school approach would affirm that you’re the mom and what you say goes; if you don’t want questionable music in your home then kibosh it. However, with the escalating accessibility of electronic media, it won’t be long until your kids are exposed to a variety of methods for locating new and sometimes harmful materials.

Try an alternative approach to outlawing contemporary music. Keep in mind that you have the right to decide what is allowed in your home. You are the parent, the model of the morals and standards that are forming the character of your children.

Rather than panicking and yanking the reins on your kids’ mounting interests, you can devise an opportunity to not only teach them how to select appropriate music for themselves, but to also build trusting relationships with them.

Begin by making a list of songs that your kids are interested in and take the time to look up the lyrics together. The Internet is replete with sites (like the aptly titled and that provide the words to just about any song. Discuss with your kids which songs you feel are in keeping with your family’s standards and which ones convey inappropriate messages. Chances are at their age your kids have already been exposed to more than you know. This is an excellent way to launch into the sometimes unnerving discussions regarding alcohol, drugs, sex, peer pressure and crime.

Use this opportunity to connect with your kids. Talking with them about things they’ll be faced with and making decisions together will result in more trust and openness in your relationships. It will also give your kids the tools necessary to make good decisions for themselves in the future. In the meantime, let them drive you a little crazy with the music you’ve agreed on. Life with teenagers wouldn’t be typical without a moderate level of insanity!

• If you’d like to submit a question, please e-mail it to: Or mail your question to: PO Box 682, Snoqualmie WA 98065.

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