On my way into work tonight, I was listening to the Jason & Alexis “replay” on MyTalk107.1.
They started a discussion on the new Miley Cyrus video and how “mature” it was, and if its really appropriate for her pre-teen and under audience. They had parents calling in with their view on the subject…and it got me thinking, as a parent, where do I stand on the issue…
First, I understand where the artist is coming from. As an artist, especially one whose main audience is pre-teens…there comes a point where you need to start to address more “mature” subject matter in your songs. Its the only way to grow as an artist in the mainstream and be relevant.
I mean, think about it…it would be creepy if a 45 year old Miley Cyrus was still singing about middle/high school…or catering to that audience….eventually she needs to grow into a more mature audience.
So, I get that and understand it…and to be on the other side, eventually the kids who listen to her music, will grow up and start addressing those same “mature” subjects as well. Its inevitable.
So, I don’t freak out about that too much.
But on the flip-side, as a parent, I do realize that I have certain responsibilities to my children.
First off, it’s my job to set some boundaries for them, until they are able to establish their own. But, I have boundaries of my own as a parent as well.
Its not my job to “force” my opinions or beliefs, or my opinions of what is “right” and “wrong”. Rather, it is my job as their parent to help them to form their own moral compass and their own beliefs of what is right and wrong.
Now, don’t misunderstand me and start commenting with things like, “so if your kids think its okay to kill someone, your okay with that?” No…obviously I’m not okay with that.
My hope is that by guiding and helping them to form their own moral code, that they’ll pickup a baseline of what is “absolutely right” and “absolutely wrong”…its some of that gray in the middle that they need to develop on their own–with my help. Those gray issues can be many things (and maybe gray isn’t the right word) but items like: racism, human rights, how to treat the environment, music to listen to, what to read, how to treat your friends, etc. It can be many, many things, from large issues to small ones too.
Now, my hope would be that their moral compass points in the same general direction mine does, but its okay with me if their opinions differ, and to be honest, I hope they do (a little…). What’s the point in living in a world where everyone thinks the same thing?
If my children grow to have different opinions on subject matters, that doesn’t make me love them any less nor does it make me feel disappointed in them. Rather it shows me that I have raised an “individual”, someone who was given a solid foundation to build their own home on.
But I can set boundaries, and I can say things like, “I don’t feel that your ready to read this book yet or listen to this music until I feel your ready to fully understand what the item is talking about.”
But at the same time, I can’t expect to tell them, “You can never read this book, or listen to this music!” That only gives them the ammo to sneak around and do exactly the opposite. Instead I need to present it in a way that shows that I am open to them interacting with that item later on when their ready.
I also need to realize that, as a parent, their going to experience things through friends or others that I can’t control, but I can try and have an open dialogue with them and prepare them for that and sit down with them, and talk about it and hopefully impress upon them why I don’t think they’re ready for it and why I would prefer they listen to it (or read it) with my wife or I there, so that we can discuss it, answer questions on things they don’t understand and clarify anything for them. As well as talk about why we feel its wrong or right. Again, back to helping them build their foundation. If they were to read it on their own, or listen to something with a friend, they may not get the answers they need to understand it, and instead base their own decisions on inaccurate information.
I have always felt that communication is a very important key in any kind of relationship. Between husband and wife, parent and child and even between siblings (something, that my kids need to work on sometimes).
(Update: I go back and re-read this, and I think there are some parts where I wander away from the main goal of what I am trying to say….it all makes sense in my head…but trying to translate what goes on in my brain, in actual words…I think something gets lost in the translation…so forgive me if some parts don’t quite make sense.)