The debate: Do you let your kids listen to explicit music?

By Cori Howard
The debate: Do you let your kids listen to explicit music? Photo by Imgorthand/iStock

"No, I do not." Cori Howard, mother of two

Here’s the thing: I’m not a prude.

But here is something not right about seeing your seven-year-old daughter gyrating and moving her hands up and down her torso while singing: “Ah, girl, look at that body.” This particular song, “Sexy And I Know It” by LMFAO, was introduced into our home by my 10-year-old son’s friend. Then, my younger sister showed them the video, wherein a guy in a gold lamé Speedo does the gyrating. My kids thought that was hilarious. And she explained the acronym, which, if you’re not already familiar, is loaded with expletives (Laughing My F***ing A** Off), delighting my kids even more. Well, the band is now laughing all the way to the bank as their audience expands to include elementary-school kids. Really?

I never thought I’d be the kind of parent who would consider banning music. But after allowing the free flow of tunes into our house, I came to regret it. Have you ever listened closely to LMFAO’s songs? It’s catchy, fun dance music, but some of the lyrics are so offensive that the editors of this magazine wouldn’t even print them.

I kept my initial reaction – horror – to myself. Instead, I talked to my friends about what I should do. I couldn’t forbid the song because I knew that would make it even more appealing. My kids, who had been listening to me chat with the other parents, eventually picked up on my concerns. We started talking about why the lyrics bothered me. Suddenly, it fell off the radar, and now they’re listening to Bruno Mars, who sings about love in a way I know they can’t understand yet. But at least it’s not derogatory to women. While I can’t control what music they like, I can at least explain why they’re too young to be “sexy.” Once they’re teenagers, I know I won’t be able to say much of anything.


"Yes, I do." Eric Alper, father of one


That’s my first memory of music. I was six years old listening to Little Richard sing “Tutti Frutti.” It was released in 1955, 20 years before I was born, when the lyrics were considered scandalously suggestive about sex, swearing and drinking. I didn’t understand the song, but I loved it, and it was the beginning of my lifelong love affair with music.

After I became a father, the last thing I wanted to do was turn into my own conservative parents. As part of the MTV generation, I have a powerful biological instinct to be a cool dad (complete with the greatest music collection) to my nine-year-old daughter. I don’t want to be one of those dads who holds his hands over his ears, makes a face as through he’s passing a kidney stone the size of a watermelon and shouts, “You call that music?”


So I’m not uncomfortable when my daughter and her friends thrust their pelvises to “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5. And I really have no problem with her singing about being transgendered and lesbian in Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” I see it as an opportunity to teach her about acceptance and to talk about celebrating who she is.

Even rap music has a place in our house. One day my daughter will be in the supermarket and Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” will play as the Muzak – I maintain that those songs aren’t dangerous now, and won’t be 20 years from now. Today’s music is like the music of my generation, and the one before it: it’s about love, pain, redemption and exploring the human psyche. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t understand what she’s singing – I’m just happy that she’s singing.

?What is your take on the matter? What kind of music do you let your kids listen to?

This article was originally published on May 02, 2012

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