The media is flooded with stories about a young ingénue who busted out of her wholesome persona, throwing fans into a whirlwind of confusion.

The videos our children watch have a lot of impact, but so do lyrics alone. We know, as adults, there are songs that come on the radio and evoke memories both happy and bittersweet and really play with our emotions. It is no different for our children.

I had one experience that drove this home. My then 17-year old daughter had a CD by a band that was pretty vulgar. I wasn't aware of this until I found her 14-year-old brother listening with headphones and mouthing the words. Yikes! I asked my daughter to get the CD cover and bring it to me. I privately read the words to some of the songs and then decided on a plan of action. I gathered the teenage children together, leaving the 5-year-old way out of the equation. I then told them that I wanted to read some contemporary poetry to them. I had their full attention. I then pulled out the CD insert and began to read the profane and filthy lyrics to them as poetry.

They, having never heard strong words like that come from my mouth (and I have to tell you, I was extremely uncomfortable using them), began to squirm and cringe. It wasn't long before they stopped me with hands waving in the air and on their own ears. There were even a few screams, "No! Stop! Enough!"

Without hesitation, my daughter asked her brother for the CD back. When he handed it to her, she broke it into pieces and put it into the trash. I'm sure there were nightmares that night about their cursing mother, but the point was made and taken. I had no trouble with music after that, but did pay more attention to what they brought into our home.

This very uncomfortable exercise taught all of us a lesson. It is easy, sometimes, to let the words go in one ear and out the other because we are so exposed to them on a daily basis, at school, at work or with friends. That doesn't mean, however, that we have to intentionally bring them into our homes and minds.

Lyrics affect us in ways more powerful than we might believe

  1. They can make us see the world as perverse and ugly.

  2. They will naturally come to our minds when we find ourselves in bad situations.

  3. They take us to places where God's spirit will not dwell and will flee.

  4. They put thoughts into our minds that pollute it.

  5. They take up space that could otherwise be occupied by uplifting thoughts.

  6. They influence our opinion about people and life in general.

It is impossible to completely avoid the dark and profane part of life. It is all around us, but we must teach our children to be in the world and not of it. We can exist quite well adhering to the standards that keep us spiritually healthy.

To keep our kids' music in check, we need to

  1. Review the music our children listen to and use it as a springboard to conversation about the values we embrace.

  2. Don't be afraid to ask for a listen when you see your kids with their headphones on.

  3. Talk about it, whether it is good or bad.

Keep the dialogue going and let the music play on.

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