My kids love a song with "bad" lyrics

What should you do when your children want to listen to music you feel is inappropriate?

By Sandra E. Martin
My kids love a song with "bad" lyrics

massdistraction via Flickr

My kids, aged nine and five, have the same earworm. And I'm trying to figure out what to do about it.

Almost every day, they ask, "Can we listen to 'Moves Like Jagger'?" (We check out a lot of music together on YouTube; that's where they discovered their love of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi.")

For those not familiar, "Moves Like Jagger" is the latest single from the US band Maroon 5 — known for their overtly sexual songs. This one is no exception, liberally making use of phrases like, "I put on a show, now I'm naked/You say I'm a kid, my ego is big/I don't give a sh**."

The radio edit has blocked out the four-letter expletive, but that isn't the part I have trouble with — both girls have a strong sense of which words are "bathroom" words and which are "bad" or "swear" words. It's that although my kids are likely too young to get what "Take me by the tongue and I'll know you" means, I can't not explain it to them if they ask.

"How do you know this song?" I sputtered after my first listen (my nine-year-old had heard it before I had).

"My jazz teacher plays it every class as our warmup. Today she played it three times!"

OK, I can hear why — the song has an infectious rhythm and, if you like to dance, I defy you not to move while it's playing. But it definitely isn't intended for kids.

So, I figure I have three choices:
- ban the kids from listening
- let them listen to the song and play dumb about my concerns unless they ask
- let them listen to the song, but be proactive about voicing my concerns — making a teachable moment out of a parenting landmine.

I've chosen the latter, but I'd like to know: What would you do?

Photo credit massdistraction via Flickr

This article was originally published on Oct 29, 2011

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