Music is powerful.
Music touches us and affects our emotions in deep, subconscious ways. Songs get stuck in our heads. Song lyrics permanently embed into our memories and can be retrieved decades later. Because of these emotional and mental powers, the songs that your kids learn are of utmost importance.
So who will be the gatekeeper for what music my kids enjoy? I believe that would be me. Here are a few principles that we’ve come up with for guiding the music selection that we put in front of our kids.
First, Do No Harm…
First, the music you choose should not harm your kids. There is a great verse about “whatever is true, noble, lovely, and excellent.” The music they hear should not contain anything crass or suggestive. It shouldn’t even demonstrate or glorify bad attitudes. There should not be even a HINT of impropriety, as my mom used to say.
Harness the Force For Good
Remember, music is powerful! It draws us in. It gives us goose bumps and makes us feel powerful emotion. It also helps us to lock in important memories. We feel that it is our job that our kids are ‘soaked’ in the word of God. Marinated, I like to say. Music is one powerful tool for shaping their worldview, memorize Scripture, and challenging them to pursue leadership and noble things. (More specifics in another post.)
History and Perspective
The Best Of: Our entire economy pushes us to discard the old and buy new, as fast as we possibly can. Because of that we have to actively reach back to ancient connections for stability and connection. Purposefully select music to tie them back to ‘classics’ from different eras. Classical music, hymns, patriotic songs, big band, jazz, Sinatra, Bing, Elvis, classic rock, disco (2 songs), country. I think it is great to expose them to a variety of styles from a variety of eras. When I first really got into music it was the beginning of the CD era. On my limited budget, I almost always bought the Greatest Hits or Best Of, so that I would get 10-20 good songs for my purchase price.
Hymns: One of my specific goals for our kids is that they know and love hymns.
Different Genres: When Dana and I go to weddings, we enjoy big band swing music, Cotton-Eyed Joe, YMCA, and the Cha-Cha Slide. For an occasional night out we will attend a symphony or a musical. I try to expose my kids to good songs from a variety of eras, so a playlist may include Yellow Submarine from The Beatles. Jesus is Just Alright from DC Talk, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and Rockin Robin. This is a way that they can be well-rounded. Some might call it cultured. Others call it an appreciation for music.
Music can be so fun! Dana and I have so enjoyed music throughout our lives in so many ways. We have good memories from with singing in church, playing piano, band, choir, listening to tunes with our friends in high school, the dance at our wedding (still the best wedding party we’ve ever attended, in our humble opinions!), and dance parties in our home. Music is fun!
Only You Can Prevent Mind Warping
Here’s the in your face part. You should not listen to the regular popular radio with your kids. The entire message and focus of the radio is immoral and wrong. It pushes lifestyles and activities that are the opposite of what you want for your children. The music industry elevates performers who compromise their integrity in order to achieve fame. You would not ever dream of letting your kids hang out with Miley Cyrus – why would you let them listen to her? You may be able to withstand the conflicting messages about values, but your kids are not ready for this. I’m not saying that you can’t ever listen to secular music. There are plenty of secular songs that are fine for your kids to listen to. But here’s the key – you have to select them. You have to be the DJ. You cannot allow the radio DJ, and really, the music companies, to decide what songs your kids are going to hear. This is not just a commercial for KLOVE or 88.5, but it is so wonderful to hear my little 4-year old son belting out praise or worship songs as we listen to their ‘positive, en-cool-aging’ music, as he would say. (And plus it’s fun to listen to TobyMac with my kids, since I listened to dc Talk when I was a kid.)
Fill ‘Er Up!
It is much easier to fill your child’s mind with good things than to try to change their mind after it is filled with bad things. Because what your kids hear is what your kids learn. What they learn is what they believe, what they feel, and what they pursue. Remember – music is powerful. Purposefully select music for your kids that will inspire, encourage, teach, and bless them.