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Music, Demons, and Little Girls Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 11 January 2013

Last summer at the Biltmore Hotel pool in Phoenix our 7- and 4-year-old daughters heard, and heard, and heard again a catchy dance-pop ditty recorded by a British boy band called The Wanted.

Called Glad You Came, it goes:

The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came

You cast a spell on me, spell on me
You hit me like the sky fell on me, fell on me
And I decided you look well on me, well on me
So let’s go somewhere no one else can see, you and me
This song drove us batty at the hotel pool. I wondered how they could play this awful music where Ronald Reagan went on his honeymoon with Nancy? And so loud!

But it wasn’t just at the hotel pool. This song popped up back home at our daughter’s dance class, in restaurants, everywhere. And our little girls would stand in the living room and sing this song in their sweet little voices.

These are far from perfect lyrics or a perfect message for little girls. Suggesting that you go somewhere where you cannot be seen is not a good idea. And lyrics about “taking you by the hand, hand you another drink, drink it if you can,” are certainly not good, but maybe not understandable by our little angels.

Little girls grow up fast these days. They get jaded fast, too. Our little girls, though, are very innocent. And they go to a very sweet and very innocent little parish school run by young ladies who came out of Christendom and Steubenville. It is an island of innocence. And we like it that way.

But the culture is always out there. On the block where we live, all the kids go to the public schools. And while I would not say they are anything other than innocent, they likely are exposed to influences that are culturally troubling. They know more about current music and television and movies – things we are careful about letting our daughters listen to or see.

Sometimes I have a vision of demons swirling around my daughters. I have always believed in demons, but never more so than after we had these two little girls. I sense demons swirling and snarling around them, eager to ruin them. And demons today have so many tools to work with, particularly in popular culture.


       The Childrens Round Dance by Hans Thoma, 1872

While I want the demons away, I don’t want my daughters to be saps either, that is, so unsophisticated that they are subjects of mirth and also unable to defend themselves against more worldly girls and boys. Of course, you would choose sappiness over damnation any day, but there is a wide range between them.

So, how to navigate between the two?

Even though The Wanted drove us crazy at the pool in Phoenix, and we do not want our daughters to become aficionados of corrupting dance music, at Christmas we caved in and bought our daughters their CD. And they love it. They sing and dance around and sing along in their sweet little voices.

At exactly the same time, though, we put in motion a counter proposal, what I call our “Country Music Gambit.” Though largely disdainful of country music, my wife and I were willing to suffer through years of it as an antidote to other more dangerous genres. So, along with The Wanted we bought the girls Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, pretty girls singing wholesome songs, or so we thought.

With high expectations, we put Carrie Underwood on the stereo and out came loud and crunching guitars that were an immediate assault on their young ears, nothing bouncy, nothing poppy. The girls’ mouths just fell open in shock. There was no dancing around. Their eyes were wide and not in wonderment but in something like alarm. Mommy and daddy, you want me to listen to this?

Taylor Swift was not much better. One of her songs is about the angst of being fifteen, not having any friends, and then falling in love. It was kind of morose and did not fit the spirit or the experience of our girls. We put Underwood and Swift away and our daughters have not asked for either one since.

My wife is content for them to stay with The Wanted. She says the girls experience The Wanted as little girls. Their favorite song after all is about the moon and stars and the universe and how: “I’m glad you came. I’m glad you came.” It’s a bouncy song and the lyrics probably remind them of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and of friends coming over to play.

Like all little girls, Lucy and Gigi want to be big girls, but becoming really big girls is also kind of frightening. I suspect their reaction to Underwood and Swift was probably that fear. They find comfort in innocence, and safety, too.

As parents we are profoundly aware of a few things, such as the fact that we are only vaguely aware of what we’re doing.  Our instincts are sound, but what to do? We also know we’re in a race with the devil.  And we feel quite alone and outnumbered by those who seek the ruin of their souls.

One solution we stumbled upon is to seek more allies, so we are moving. We do not think of it as moving away. Rather we are moving toward an intentional Catholic community that has grown organically around that innocent little grade school our girls attend. There is a cloud of witnesses there and they are going to help our girls and us.

We’ve also heard there are some pretty good Christian bands like Barlow Girl and Innocence Mission. I think we will give them a try. And continue to pray. 

 
Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.
 
 
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Comments (32)Add Comment
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written by Other Joe, January 11, 2013
The culture is more sick than most seem to realize. The violence in songs and music is not the cutting edge of the culture, rather it is the attitude of the violent toward others. The same is true with attitudes of sexuality and vulgarity. Everything is made flat and small, especially sexual attraction and murder. There are almost never any consequences except temporary frustration. The popular culture, in short, is selling a demonic kind of fantasy that life is brutish and vulgar (therefore power is the primary good), that sentimentality is love and that consequences are for the extras - the non-entities paid to populate the background. Order is shown to be hypocritical. Transcendence is never mentioned unless Morgan Freeman is playing a small and vulgar god or Mr. Travolta is getting drunk as an "angel" - even heaven has to be made small, vulgar and sentimental. Hollywood movies that don't involve cartoon violence almost always have an applause scene which is the money shot for those most concerned with self. The applause is a vulgar and small replacement for love and acceptance. In Hollywood, momentary acclaim is the best that can be hoped for. And in that industry town, it may be true for most. Pabulum is nourishing. Most contemporary popular culture is toxic to children and other living things.
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written by Manfred, January 11, 2013
"...at Christmas we caved in and bought our daughters their CD." The recurring theme of the Church hierarchy and laity over the last fifty years is "We caved in and we...." No one has been willing to hold the line and the result is personal and institutional disaster. Why not have MUSIC playing in the background when the family is together, Nessun Dorma, Che Gelida Manina, O Mio Babbino Caro? All the great composers? My Jewish friends have a saying, "For Goyim". This would be their response if one were to ask them what they thought of the music at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, or AMERICAN CULTURE AT LARGE. They are taught that legitimate discrimination is a good and they should coninually exercise their judgement. Their businesses recoup most of their losses at Chrismas time when the Christians come into the stores to buy and buy and buy. We have the culture and the Church we deserve.
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written by T.L.M., January 11, 2013
My oldest, at 9 years old, is just awakening to these things. And by no fault of her own. Public schools are awful here in Maryland. Even the pre-school we sent her to attempted to indoctrinate her at 3 or 4 into recognizing other kinds of "families". Two moms, two dads.

I'm often called "divisive" for requesting that these things be covered at home by parents according to their own understanding. But nay, I clearly don't know enough about sex and relationships to have the discussion with my own children.

You know, because I just don't understand how I keep becoming pregnant.
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written by Jacob R, January 11, 2013
Those songs infect people like cancer.

I wouldn't even let them listen to it for a moment.

Something as silly and horrible as a pop song is the Devil's perfect tool.

It's like trying to find value in porn that's well shot. Just because there may be some skill in it somewhere doesn't mean you should go within a hundred feet of it.
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written by Jonathan, January 11, 2013
I have an 8 and 5 year old (and 3 month old), all girls. I too have experienced the feeling that the culture is out to corrupt. So, in raising them, I have always taken the message that C.S. Lewis noted in "Abolition of Man" to heart, especially his citation of Proverbs 22:6 - "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (NIV).

In my musings on this passage and on raising children, I have come to believe that, contrary to statements used to ignore or dismiss small details (e.g. "boys will be boys" or "pick your battles"), every interaction can be an opportunity to praise or correct - to teach - and that the road to Holiness is a series of these small steps. We as parents are not perfect, and we must pray for Grace for our children in our own mistakes, but we must at least ensure that we are not the occasion for encouraging, by act or omission, the occasion or near occasion of sin. For, what will we say when, having given in to lyrics such as "let's go somewhere nobody can see us" to the addition of "and make out all night" or worse? The latter idea is at least implicit in the first lines, especially in our day and time, and while little girls all want to feel special, that feeling is the awakening of desire for a husband, but that desire is so easily lead astray. Such was my concern when I heard my 8 year old begin to play "Never have I ever..." with her sister, having learned it from an older sibling of a friend.....
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written by fleshman, January 11, 2013
A couple of things Austin. First, just thinking back to when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, the music I knew had lyrics that were mostly unintelligible. I could catch a word or three here and there if I tried real hard, but that was it. But mostly I knew songs from the melody and even more the riff if it was catchy. So I wouldn't assume your daughters can necessarily even understand the lyrics at all.

Second--I have to ask this one--how many 4 and 7 year olds would grasp the adult themes in the song you quoted? I'm not sure your daughters would hear it the way you do even if they could understand the lyrics. Similarly with TV, I can remember watching shows as a teenager and then watching the same shows as an adult and seeing alot more implied sexuality than I saw at first. All things are pure to the pure I suppose. The adult antenna is much more attuned to sexuality and thus perceives things in ways that kids don't.

But I do agree in the sense that kids do have a more sensitive antenna than they used to--which is why it is good that as a conscientious parent you are thinking of these things.
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written by Maggie-Louise, January 11, 2013
This cultural degradation didn't arrive full-blown this year. The first obvious sign of its coming that I could identify was in the late '50s with the "twist" and rock and roll. Until that time, dancing was graceful movement-- you covered the entire dance floor but your body was still (even with the jitterbug). Ballroom dancing was natural, graceful movement--ti was the imitation of nature. Little girls used to twirl around the living room, because it was a graceful, beautiful, NATURAL movement--like flowers swaying with the breeze. With the twist, the feet were planted firmly in one spot and your body jerked around. It went down hill from there.

As I watch people dance today, I don't see nature. I see anti-nature. I see mechanics, where arms, hips, shoulders jerk around like gears that don't mesh, or robotics where the circuits are all shorted and the body is distorted--angular, out of control, creating an inner being that thinks itself a machine--or a robot. If that isn't demonic, I don't know what is. Perfectly made for our modern progressive times when we just react as we are instructed. Where we just "give in" and follow the leader.

Why don't you send your daughters to ballet school? Why not play recordings of the "big band" era, or operettas or Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire? Why aren't your daughters taking classical piano lessons? Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms, to say nothing of Chopin and Debussy, and a myriad of others are still in print and still being played.

Are your daughters wearing Miraculous Medals or scapulas? Do you bless them with Holy Water with the Sign of the Cross on the forehead as they leave the house in the morning? Are the last words they hear "See you later" or "God be with you"?

I learned more religion as a little girl from the song my mother taught me three-quarters of a century ago, than I have ever learned from any class in any church that I can recall as soon as the need arises.

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
We are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

It's not Mozart, but it's a starting point and it stays in a little girl's head.
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written by Dan Deeny, January 11, 2013
Very interesting! Carrie Underwood for girls 4 and 7? Taylor Swift is probably good, at least until now, for high school girls. (I haven't yet listened to her Red album. She might be headed downwards like so many young American women.) You and Mrs. Ruse might listen to Taylor Swift often and then discuss what you've heard. I imagine you know French, so get in contact with French Catholic families and discuss and get some recommendations.
Keep up the good work!
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written by Maggie-Louise, January 11, 2013
"how many 4 and 7 year olds would grasp the adult themes in the song you quoted?"

From "The Feast of Faith", by Cardinal J. Ratzinger (pp. 118-119)

"The cultic music of pagan religions has a different status in human existence from the music which glorifies God in creation. Through rhythm and melody themselves, pagan music often endeavors to elicit an ecstasy of the senses, but without elevating the senses into the spirit; on the contrary, it attempts to swallow up the spirit in the senses as a means of release. This imbalance toward the senses recurs in modern popular music: the "God" found here, the salvation of man identified here, is quite different from the God of the Christian faith. Quite different coordinates of existence are applied, quite a contrary view of the cosmos as a whole is exhibited. Here music can indeed become a "seduction" leading men astray. Here music does not purify but becomes a drug, an anesthetic."

"Rhythm and melody". "Words", understood or not, are the least of the problem.
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written by Dan Deeny, January 11, 2013
Maggie-Louise,
Very interesting. Do you have other books that discuss this subject? A very long time ago, I read a book by E. Michael Jones called Dionysius Rising. The subject was interesting, but the book was very poorly written.
Thank you for posting this information!
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written by Austin Ruse, January 11, 2013
Thanks for these interesting responses!

So you all know, in our home, we listen almost exclusively to the Great American Songbook, swing, and jazz, also a fair amount of classical music. I believe the girls consider this to me Mommy and Daddy music. I am impressed with my daughter Lucy, who has an amazing talent at the piano, when she picks out some of my favorite Bossa Nova songs on the piano.

So, they are getting lots of really good music in the house. What we are grappling with is the music that they begin to ask for....
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written by Sue, January 11, 2013
I second Dionysus Rising, and would add Pudewa's lecture on "The Effect of Music on Living Things". Also Kolbe Academy has a great book on Discovering Classical Music that can be used by parents to teach their children.

And would also suggest that instead of moving away physically (which could have a ghetto effect possibly as pernicious as the "sap" factor), consider connecting with other homeschooling parents, near and far, for support in your very justified concerns about cultural influences. Even if you don't homeschool yourself, you can "afterschool" your kids and teach them *why* classical music is so excellent and preferred by Mom and Dad.

Once you've got your own (homeschooling) oxygen mask on, then you can share it with your clueless and struggling neighbor parents.
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written by Jaki blue, January 11, 2013
I recall some comments of Michael Patterson-Smith on dancing in the 18th century and some remarks of St John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars on the subject of dancing:

"Ah, you say, you are making more of it than there really is! I say too much about it? Very well, then. Listen. Did the Holy Fathers of the Church say too much about it? St. Ephraim tells us that dancing is the perdition of girls and women, the blinding of men, the grief of angels, and the joy of the devils. Dear God, can anyone really have their eyes bewitched to such an extent that they will still want to believe that there is no harm in it, while all the time it is the rope by which the Devil pulls the most souls into Hell?"

And again

"The Council of Aix-la-Chapelle forbids dancing, even at weddings. And St. Charles Borromeo, the Archbishop of Milan, says that three years of penance were given to someone who had danced and that if he went back to it, he was threatened with excommunication. If there were no harm in it, then were the Holy Fathers and the Church mistaken?"

In I895 an old woman told Mgr. Convert, then parish priest of Ars, that from the age of sixteen to twenty-two she did not make her Easter Communion, because the Saint refused her absolution. The reason was that, once a year, when visiting her relatives in a neighbouring village, on the occasion of the fête of the place, she used to dance for a little while on the village green. The woman added that she went to confession on the eve of all the great feasts but the Saint never absolved her. She only received absolution when, after a resistance of six years, she at last made up her mind to forgo this annual fling.

It would be easy to find similar remarks in devotional writers like Benedict Canfield, Pierre de Bérulle, the founder of the French Oratory, Charles de Condren, who spoke of dancing and duelling in the same breath as the ruling vices of the time, Jean-Jacques Olier, the founder of the seminary of Saint-Sulpice and many more. I know of none who commended it."

Whenever human beings come together, there you will find the potential for virtue, but the always the actuality of vice. Parents today must be as careful as the parents of those 18th century youth. Sin never sleeps.
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written by Maggie-Louise, January 11, 2013
Mr. Ruse, I'm sorry, but I don't have other books to recommend, and you certainly won't get any help from the culture. I happen to be reading "The Feast of Faith" since I heard an FSSP priest quote from it regarding the value of silence at Mass. God bless our Pope Benedict.

There is a quotation, once well known, that says: "Music hath charm to soothe the savage breast." At one time, that was applicable even to popular music. Nowadays, what passes for music contributes to savagery in the breast.

I am happy that your daughter is learning to play the piano, and I hope that you strongly encourage (read "insist") that she study classical music at least for the first several years. When she turns 80 (as well as in times of great joy and deep sadness throughout her life), she will be drawn to the piano and the music she will turn to will be classical. (Many years ago, we had a still-born baby boy. When we returned after the service and burial, I sat down at the keyboard and played "To a Wild Rose" by Edward MacDowell over and over again.) In the long run, classical music is the music that satisfies the soul. As Cardinal Ratzinger said in this book, it is the music that grew out of the Church and still carries within it the soul of the Church.

For family music and a break from the classics, there are song books published in the late 19th century and early 20th (before TV), and they make for great family sing-a-longs. Every one has great fun when they hear for the first time all the verses of "The Man on the Flying Trapeze." There are great songs from the Civil War, beautiful lullabies and tender love songs from World War I and from the period of the migration of the Irish, that tell of loneliness and longing. Did you know that Stephen Foster was an abolitionist? It shines a new light on his music. Go to flea markets (big ones) and you might find some of this music. And there are ways to engage young girls because their hearts are tender and not yet jaded by the world that we live in. And you can learn a great deal of history, while you're at it.


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written by John, January 11, 2013
So, Austin, please tell us the name of the Catholic school so that everyone can save themselves from the cultural junk.
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written by Austin Ruse, January 11, 2013
We are not moving into a ghetto. We are moving to a regular and quite secular town and neighborhood. However, we are moving close to a parish and school that is quite solid and has drawn near it other faithful Catholic families. I do not believe in entering a ghetto either.
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written by Debbie, January 11, 2013
My little girl goes to public school. We had her in Catholic school a 1.5 ago, but due to learning problems, we had no choice but the local school district here. It isn't bad, but just because she is at the public school does not mean I am letting her listen to junk that corrupts her! She is young and innocent and I only let her watch good films and shows, she listens to only good music, and only goes to nice and innocent events. Plus, just because someone goes to public school does not mean that the parent should not be involved in the child's life and help them along and do the right, moral thing. If the parents don't have values, it doesn't matter what kind of school the children go to. I went to Catholic school from 1st to 8th grade, and you wouldn't believe the things I saw and heard in the upper grades. This was in the late 70s until the early 80s. It was shocking! I loved the schools, the nuns, and the teachers, and even the education. The kids were less than desirable. Some listened to things and read things that I wouldn't at my age now. Some, by now, I am doubtful even adhear to the Catholic faith, if I had to guess.
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written by debby, January 11, 2013
Hi Austin - Just my 2cents as a parent and someone who loves many different genres of music... I rarely listen to the pop culture much, save for Josh Groban, Mannheim Steamroller type of cds. If you can, Always Preview a CD at Amazon before buying it. AND you can look up lyrics on line before making a purchase as well. I made a similar error many years ago with a Michelle Branch cd purchase because the only song I was familiar with "seemed ok". We are not monks or nuns and we do need to engage in the culture, so I agree with you - we are not called to run away from where we are (usually). Kind of hard for salt to flavor or light to illuminate if not present, or unable to communicate AT ALL with those in the dark...

You may recall from prior correspondence, I have 2 daughters who were home-schooled,one through high-school and one through 8th grade, and am currently home schooling my 7th grade son. My children were raised on all of the above, i.e., classics, jazz, Celtic everything, Latin hymns, chants and contemporary Christian music (definitely NOT country, or Rap-which is not even music). There are many, many good cds your girls would enjoy with lyrics that lift the soul as well as spirit. I highly recommend Audrey Assad. You can "preview" listen at amazon. She is a convert, has a beautiful quality in her voice, and a poet's heart. Start with her and see what they think.
p.s. I realize many people don't "agree" with alternative Christian music. I really don't care. I'm too old to discuss everything on the planet. Once there was a time when some of the classical composers where "too offensive" and there is always a Puritan in the crowd. As I am sure you know, Issac Watts took a popular beer drinking bar tune and gave us "Joy to the World." I wonder where a Protestant who probably didn't drink got the tune from....
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written by Deb Domke, January 11, 2013
We raised our daughter with the knowledge of all types of music period. But, with the understanding its music its not a way to live or to act. Just as tv watching or playing games. She never acted out things in music, tv or games because we taught her these aren't real. She now listens to every type of music still and is raising her children the same way. I don't believe in blocking things off from children. You need to explain everything to them. Because they are exposed to society on a daily basis. Communicate.
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written by kristinajohannes, January 11, 2013
Austin, get a Junior Legion of Mary Praesidium going at that parish if there is not alreay one there. This is a wonderful apostolate for children and keeps them close to Mary.
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written by Em, January 11, 2013
Don't fool yourself, innocence is a completely countercultural way of life. Turn to the saints, they will lead you. Turn off all things pop culture and do not fool yourself into the prevailing logic of "While I want the demons away, I don’t want my daughters to be saps either, that is, so unsophisticated that they are subjects of mirth and also unable to defend themselves against more worldly girls and boys. "
Innocence is a gift to God. Remember we are not solving for this life we are solving for Heaven. Why put your kids through more purgatory and need for purification by fire then is necessary? Read "Story of a Family" and then decide if you can feel comfortable with your decision to deny your conscience which told you The Wanted was not good.
God bless, this is the narrow path we are seeking!!
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written by agellius, January 11, 2013
I have found that a school community of devout Catholic families makes all the difference. One word: NAPCIS.
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written by Craig, January 11, 2013
"Catholic Songs for Children",Pro Multis Media.
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written by Mark, January 11, 2013
If your children want to drink pop do you let them or do you explain to them why it is bad for them. Similarly, if you have identified harmful music it should be relatively simple thing to explain to them why you don't want them to listen to it.
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written by Graham Combs, January 11, 2013
Back in the seventies there was a late night sitcom (an offshoot of MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN) called Fernwood2Night. Martin Mull was the host, Fred Willard his sidekick. On one show they interviewed a middle-aged couple who were trying to have their son deprogrammed (remember that fad?) from a cult. The cult? The Catholic Church. Their son? A priest. That may be where we are now. Seen as strange, exotic, not quite comprehensible. Perhaps, like the Amish, we will end up in a photo shoot for National Geographic.
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written by BHG, January 12, 2013
I have fought this war too. One thing you can do is make your kids attractively eccentric in their music tastes--go retro. Folk music of the 60s. Jazz, or at least some of it, and blues. The songs the great girl groups of the 40s sang. Good tunes, positive music and for the most part, good messages. Even some early rock and roll is great. If they like it and enjoy it they just might be trend-setters--our daughter was.
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written by Sarah, January 12, 2013
I have two 3 year old and 3 month old daughters and I've gathered some useful information from your article and following comments. I'm still mulling over what I would do when my time comes. Unwholesome music is like junk food, tastes good at first but after a while you just end up fat and unhappy.
One of the blessings of today's technology is that we have options like iTunes where you can purchase specific songs from various artists and make kids a playlist. By doing this you can still give your children a taste of pop culture, but on your terms, and you don't have to buy the whole album to do so. Not all songs artist compose are bad theses days. Taylor Swift is a classic example, a few great songs, and then a bunch of break up angst songs that leave everyone low.
Another option I know is Veggie Tales has a couple mixes where they take 80s and 70s pop tunes and change the lyrics to be more wholesome, these might be fun for dance times around the house, road trips, or with friends. They can evangelize while having fun. Even I enjoy singing "Walk like an Egyptian" with the gourds.;)

Again, I value all the input from veteran parents.

A grateful newbie.
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written by Austin Ruse, January 12, 2013
Funny thing. I mentioned in my column about the wholesomeness of hte Andy Griffith Show but what we have found is that almost every episode is based on lies someone is telling incluidng Andy, Aunt Bea and Barnie. They routinely tell lies to each ohter...weird..i may write anohter column about how Andy Griffith is a big fat liar!
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written by enness, January 13, 2013
The waltz was quite scandalous in its day, and 'Baroque' was a snide and derogatory name given by critics of the style...let's beware of idealizing the old, which is the reverse bias of idealizing everything "modern."
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written by Craig, January 13, 2013
Austin,
As a father of 7, I share your fears and struggle to walk a balanced line. Having a community, as you mentioned is definitely a key factor. We determined where we would buy our current home based on families we knew in the neighborhood who have similar values to our own.

Check out the song "Kings and Queens" by Audio Adrenaline. Both my kids and I love it. Also Toby Mac's "Me Without You." He is a Christian artist but has been on the secular charts this year. Both are very "bouncy" songs.

Great Article!
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written by T.L.M., January 14, 2013
Remember the Kidz Bop series? It used to come with kids meals somewhere. Take a listen to those. Listening to children sing some of those songs is ... disturbing.
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written by Good Job, Austin and Mrs. Ruse, January 15, 2013
Austin, I sympathize with you and your wife, and I think you're doing a great job.

Our girls are 14, 16, and 19. Our older sons are in their twenties. We reasoned that if they had been completely unaware of the pop culture as teens, it would have seemed like enticing forbidden fruit. We chose the same route that you did: we played good quality music in our home, but we allowed pop music as they got older, with some reasonable guidelines. I listen to the lyrics of the songs they like, and we discuss them. They have learned discernment regarding music. In addition, pop culture serves as a bridge to interact with other young people, and they have actually had friends who changed their negative views of the Catholic faith when they saw that our kids were allowed to do "normal" things like listen to popular music. They love the ballet and the classical and baroque performances at the local college. They know the difference between music which has the purpose of delighting because it is beautiful, and music which has the purpose of serving as a shared reference point for young people.

We want them to trust our judgment. if we label every single pop song as evil without even listening to it, then they will think our judgment is so extreme that they cannot take it seriously. By allowing that which is not harmful, even if we do not prefer it, we gain credibility with our teenagers and young adults.

Your girls might like the band my niece likes, "One Direction". There is another song, "Call Me Maybe", which my daughter plays on her guitar, about a young person who is enchanted by the presence of a member of the opposite sex. Enchantment, not sexuality, is the theme.

Our oldest son is a professional musician. His band plays jazz, funk, and even hiphop. I'm not a big fan of hiphop, but they are skilled musicians and they work jazz standards into their music, so young people who have never heard much jazz are becoming familiar with it. They're drawn in by the funk and hip hop, and they learn to appreciate jazz without realizing it.

Best wishes as you navigate the culture. I think you are off to a good start.

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