Parenting Problem #1: Raunchy music & tweens

Just a quick post today, and I’m asking for your help.

I’m the mom of a tween who loves music. He wants it on all day every day, he wants to control what we listen to and the volume, he tries to memorize lyrics and artists—the whole shebang. This has the potential to be a great thing. Music makes life richer. But I’m having a hard time figuring out how to give him access to what he wants without giving him too much freedom.

My son particularly likes rap and R&B, thanks largely to a cool family member who introduced him to the genre. Unfortunately, he’s also introduced him to songs that refer to women as the B-word and talk about sex like it’s as casual as a conversation with your neighbor. Some of that stuff slips past my son—the euphemisms aren’t obvious to an 11 year old—but exposure to music like this can’t be good for his spirit.

He’s been begging for Apple Music, and I’m considering it because the alternative is him sneaking the iPad to search YouTube for music videos, and you and I all know that’s not a safe environment. He says he’s just looking up lyric videos; I say there’s no way to ensure that appropriate content will pop up on the screen (not to mention that I don’t want him to read all the lyrics). I put a radio in his bedroom, and he loves that, but he wants to be able to choose what songs he hears.

So how do you handle the music thing with your kids? Or how did your parents handle it with you?

If I had my way, he’d listen to the Beatles, classic rock, and jazz, but so far, no cigar. Plus, I like that he has his own opinions. I don’t want to squelch his interests, and I don’t want to start a battle I can’t win. Thoughts? Please advise. •

9 thoughts

  1. What a great post! Growing up, we always had family tunes that our parents put together; playlists with(clean)songs from every genre. Now, all grown up, we still listen to the same songs and love that it has become a family tradition. Hope that gives you some ideas. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Ha! I’m dealing with this right now with my 11 year old daughter. One solution we have found is that we keep a small blue tooth speaker in the main house area. She’s welcome to hook up Spotify (she uses my phone when I’m home) and blast it to the whole house. But, I don’t allow swear words or raunchy lyrics. Luckily she’s into indie and pop (though there are a lot of popular songs that have terrible lyrics out there). When it’s on for the whole house, we discuss lyrics and the beauty of the words or music and it’s quite fun. We have even made her some playlists on iTunes of her favorite approves songs.


    1. Hmm, I wonder if Spotify would be a good option for us—I hadn’t really thought about that. We also discuss lyrics often, and my boys have gotten quite the sexual education from explaining what words really mean! But one great result is that once they understand what makes a song inappropriate, they quit asking to listen to it and actually change the channel when it comes on the radio. That’s something good, I guess!


  3. One of my friends gave her teenage sons each $100 to spend on buying songs on itunes. They had to approve the songs I believe but that way the kids had a bunch of music they wanted downloaded on their i pods and the parents knew what they were listening to.


  4. We have Apple Music and really enjoy it. Before we signed up I would spend at least $15.00/month purchasing music so it does save us money. There is a setting on it that allows me to block all songs labeled as “Explicit” on the radio feature as well as the downloadable music. This feature should be available whether you have Apple Music or if you just use iTunes to download songs. I know not all songs that have questionable lyrics are labeled explicit, but most of the songs that contain swearing and overly sexual lyrics are marked that way. We do listen to a lot of oldies and country music, but I have been known to enjoy a good rap song 🙂


  5. I have Google Music and Pandora. Both have a “turn off explicit” setting that will only play radio friendly versions of the songs. I like the Google Music family plan because it also comes with YouTube Red. Family members can set up their own playlists. We have a Google mini home and it can play our playlists and just about anything else you ask it too – like the soundtrack to the Greatest Showman, etc. It is also helpful in creating shopping lists, setting alarms, and playing trivia games. Check out a few reviews on YouTube. If you have Chromecast, it plays well with that too.


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