Kids music can be so much fun for the little ones, but can get more difficult to manage as our children get older. Right now we have a 21 month old girl and a three year old boy, and they love just about anything that’s a nursery rhyme with a happy jingle, covering topics ranging from flowers and sunshine to sign language.
But we also have an 11 year old girl who’s been interested in kids music ranging from the thankfully acceptable likes of Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift, to the painfully inappropriate music like Lady Gaga and even surprisingly inappropriate like Gwen Stefanie.
So when navigating through her kids music selections, it can sometimes be as easy as jumping up and down and saying, “Yes, this is a good selection, it will not rot your brain or encourage you to behave scandalously!” to the very difficult, “Okay, let’s sit down and talk about why this might not be the right album for you...” or the honest yet permissive, “well, we understand that your grades are good, so you may have this album, as long as you understand what certain things mean..”
These conversations can be very difficult with our growing pre-teens, and if we don’t have a good balance of give and take, and we don’t effectively instill an overall positive direction with regard to what’s right and wrong, the teenage years can become that much more difficult.
We’ll tackle these issues and also cover happier kids music as our own kids grow up and develop an interest, so please come back often to this page for updates!
Kids Music For Pre-teens and Early Teenagers
Selena Gomez's A Year Without Rain, ended up on her list as one of two musical selections. I always get a little nervous when she requests music and have even turned down some past requests because of inappropriate material, but Selena Gomez appears to be a nice, smart and successful young woman with philanthropist inclinations and passable teen-pop kids music.
Taylor Swift's Speak Now, was her second selection. Though I didn't know her music that well, I first learned of her during Kanye West's infamous speech interruption during the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards! We felt bad for Swift, but are glad for her incredible success!
Lady Gaga is a frustratingly difficult performer to allow our children to listen to, but as our kids grow more and more independent, parental limitations can represent not only a defiance, but an opportunity for rebellion. Instead, conversations, understanding and compromise allowed for the appreciation of her music, and a ban on her videos!
Alicia Keys As I Am was in our eldest girl's 2009 Christmas list among her many diverse wishes, and it took almost no research or question in approving Alicia Keys; she's an accomplished classical pianist with a strong scholastic background and an excellent role model!
Leona Lewis Spirit was also in the same 2009 wish list, and even though I didn't know her beyond our girl's interest in The X Factor, I couldn't find anything wrong or inappropriate with her music, other than some adult themed romance topics involving scorn and remorse.
The High School Musical soundtrack collection used to drive us nuts as parents! Our eldest girl started enjoying them when she was eight and would perform all the musical dance numbers for us, whether we wanted them or not! But now that the innocence of that golden era has faded into a beautiful memory, we really miss them!
The Hannah Montana soundtrack was the musical compilation that accompanied the Hannah Montana Movie. Our eldest girl once claimed to be Hanna Montana's "Biggest Fan" until she began to grow into more mature tastes. Still, she claims that this album was Miley Cyrus's most soulful, and she's still watching the final television season until the end of it's run.
Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Beddingfield is the Canadian and United States version of her N.B. album originally recorded for the international market. This importand difference ommits several racy tracks from the original version and made it easier for us to approve. Though her next album would prove a bit more controversial, our girl thanfully never requested another album from Natasha Bedingfield.
In my personal past, I can almost remember the days of innocence when my mother bought me my first album when I was 7, Menudo’s Quiero Ser in which I would break a sweat singing Subete a mi Moto in front of the mirror. A short while later, Michael Jackson’s Thriller was the hottest thing, and I did have a fake red pleather jacket (I couldn’t bring myself to wear the single sparkly glove).
Fast forward 8 years and I was indulging in thrash and death metal albums like Slayer’s South of Heaven and Autopsy’s Severed Survival (with the original now banned cover). Although politically driven and exploratory into the depths of human suffering and behavior, I’d be frightened if I were to see my kids listening to this type of music if I didn’t understand it myself.
And at the same time, I see an interest in music like Lady Gaga in which her image and some lyrical content are inappropriate, yet the woman is very talented and is born from the same New York City electronic music nightclub scene that my wife and I frequented in our early to mid twenties. So completely banning choices may be hypocritical and not the real solution.
Instead, the journey begins with parental knowledge and understanding, followed by a conversation with our children and teaching them why some content may be right or wrong. If the child is greeted with respect, they will open up and a dialog may be exchanged with inclusions of what inspired us at their age and what we’ve learned along the way. The solution is hopefully one which satisfies the child’s hunger for expression and entertainment, while provoking a sense of trust, honesty, respect and understanding - and the ability to pop in a CD or MP3, listen to some music and just be a kid!