In our Daddy Issues series, a father of a young daughter seeks guidance, hoping to raise a strong woman. He looks to feminism — and readers — for insight.
So I'm on a school tour the other day, and I notice on the walls of the 5th and 6th grade room that the students were asked to write lists of their favorite things. Food. Shows. Music. I noticed a lot of the girls listed a radio station I had never even heard of, and so on the way home I flipped to the channel and just about died.
Whoa. That singer just said what? Do parents actually let their kids listen to this?
It was a hip-hop, modern rap...ish station (oh sweet Jesus, I'm really an NPR nerd, aren't I?) and every other song was about drinking and sexting and going out clubbing. Not your typical edition of Fresh Air.
My closest run-in with popular music when I was a kid came in the form of listening to Duran Duran through the walls of my older brother's thin door. When Andy Taylor went solo with Thunder, I admit I may have performed some awesomely dorky air guitar solos behind closed doors.
But that seems so innocent now. I'm never one to shake my fist at kids on the lawn and shout about better days, but the songs of my youth seem tame compared to what I heard on the radio (this is where I imagine mothers who swooned over Elvis's hips later having heart attacks over Madonna, just as this "Like a Virgin" fan thinks Katy Perry's Friday Night is too much for kids).
So I wonder: Is there any fighting this?
My wife says no, that I'm making too big a deal out of it and that girls especially like popular music and singing along with their friends. But I had always held onto to the (probably naive) notion that my indoctrination into the realm of public radio and show tunes would have us singing "Defying Gravity" forever. Yeah, I suppose that does sound naive.
But I still don't think it's appropriate for 5th and 6th graders to listen to songs about getting drunk at the club or having a menage a trois every weekend. So how do you walk that line between letting a girl experiment and catch glimpses of the world she's inheriting or even just fitting in without totally stripping away childhood or making her a target for teasing?
Right now, I'm leaning toward a radio-station ban. Because banning something always makes it go away, right?
Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!. This probably marks his descent into curmudgeonism.