We've had quite the discussion from the Peanut Gallery on the last post on the Patron Saint of Etiquette. I hope you can take the time to read through the thoughtful thoughts of our compassionate readers.
I wish I had had the wherewithall to sum it all up as nicely as one reader's mom did: "something my mother always said, "the people who are hardest to love are the ones who need it the most."
Ain't it the truth?
A question: Do I allow a 14 year old girl (very good, kind, naive,
religious girl), to have popular rock songs on her ipod that are
riddled with sexual innuendo (if you want to call it innuendo!), and
other nasty themes? She doesn't know about the birds and the bees yet
(homeschooled!), and just loves music, the beat, etc. I feel like the
Grinch telling her she's got to go find something more suitable, as
almost nothing on the local radio station is suitable (especially when
I consider my choices at her age), but yet I feel a horrible pang of
guilt every time I download another icky pop favorite for her. I've
explained my reluctance to her in that most of these songs glorify sin,
especially against the 6th commandment. She doesn't quite get what that
means. Is it time for 'the talk'? Do I cut the cord on the music? Am I
overreacting? Any input would be appreciated!
Would that we could all just stick our fingers in our ears and hum. But, no such luck. School, whether at home or seated in a roomful of the great unwashed, is a preparation for life outside the classroom.
She's 14 and you haven't had "the talk"? You wouldn't have gotten away with that had she gone to school outside your home. Not that that is a bad thing, but any second, she could walk out your front door and be very, very unprepared for life as the rest of us know it.
It's lovely that you've managed to keep her innocent for so long. These days, most children have had the rudimentary "talk" by age 7 or so, and because of all the hormones in our milk products, the rest have had the full explanation, complete with a power point show, by age 9.
I think you've bypassed your dilemma. Here is your actual dilemma: You can download all the songs you want and feel no guilt whatsoever because she doesn't get one word of the innuendo or otherwise. They may as well all be in French, or Swahili. What difference does it make, really if she doesn't understand any of it? It really is just a beat. As long as she doesn't bop around town singing it, nothing bad has happened.
I saw "A Streetcar Named Desire" on TV once when I was too young to know what was going on. I thought Stanley was kind of mean to Blanche and that was the end of that. I felt sorry for Blanche because she wasn't married and wanted to be married and I thought it was mean of that homely man, Carl Malden, to dump her because she had had boyfriends along the way. Of course she did! She was in her forties! Go live with your mother, Carl!
Now I realize what was going on there.
Once you have that talk, you're going to also have to decide how to handle this.
Growing up is about handling things yourself. She's going to have to decide what to do about all of this. At that point, you can tell her you will no longer download things you find inappropriate.
That doesn't mean she'll never hear any of it, or find a way to listen to it, or end up downloading it herself at some point, unless you lock her in the basement where there's no internet reception.
Keep this in mind, you can't be good without bad. If there was no bad, good wouldn't be a choice. She has a solid foundation in good, but she's always going to have to choose it, just like the rest of us.
And it's not always so black and white and easy breezy lemon squeezy. I remember when Elvis Presley couldn't be shown on television except for his head because he gyrated his hips. Now when you see those old videos, he just looks like he's swinging his knees all around. At least, that's what it looks like to me. But then I never could figure out what all went on in "Suddenly Last Summer". My point is, even with things that seem terrible and sinful, times do change. Hence the phrase "a well turned ankle."
Maybe you can get her interested in Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman.
I'm sure our readers will have a lot to say!