Let It Go and Just Let Your Kids Have Media Freedom

Banned from TVThe Boyfriend and I are both single parents with very different styles for raising our girls. He tends to be a bit (read: a lot) more protective. I’m, well, a world more straight-from-the-hip, especially now that my child is old enough to process information in a more adult-like fashion, even though I admit to demonstrating what sex was using a highlighter and a CD when she was but a pipsqueak in the first grade.

But the other day we were riding in the car and he forced the girls to skip two songs on the iPod playlist: “Quickie” by Miguel and “Rude Boy” by Rihanna. In a way, I feel him. There are definitely things I don’t want to hear come out of my daughter’s mouth as she sings along, and “come here rude boy, can you get it up?” would be among them. Still, the kids are 14 and 13 respectively, and I’m wondering if it’s time to pull the plug on parental censorship


Earlier this year, I told y’all about the many TV shows I don’t let Girl Child watch. There’s just so much trash on the tube, between reality TV shenanigans and scripted show trashiness, that I felt like I was protecting her from unnecessary exposure to mind-warping garbage. Fast forward six months later, and she’s still not allowed to keep up with the Kardashians or be a voyeuristic member of the Bad Girls Club. But I have had a revelation that may make me take a new approach to prohibition in the Harris household.

Real life can be just as trifling as the stuff she sees on TV, if she was allowed to, that is. I don’t know if you’ve been in a high school hallway lately but, depending on where you live, it’s like being in a living, breathing, unedited version of [insert random explicit song here] anyway. I’ve heard horror stories of kids being caught doing the nasty in empty stairwells and girls dishing out all kinds of services even as the teacher is in the same room. And, if kids happen to miss a live show, they can always scan Twitter or Facebook to get up to speed.

That makes racy song lyrics and 30-minute segments of TV programming seem kind of low on the social influencer totem pole. I’m starting to feel like the better method, the more constructive one that doesn’t isolate Girl Child from the reality of what’s going on, is to watch or listen together and talk about issues that come up. What I won’t do is expose her to lyrics or any kind of media, for that matter, without explaining it to her.

Once, when I heard her singing Chris Brown’s part in “Look at Me Now,” I held my breath when she said wholeheartedly, “she wax it all off, Mr. Miyagi…” I stopped her mid-verse. “Do you even know what that means?”

To my surprise, she did. I was deflated. That was too much information for a then-12-year-old to grasp, in my book.

Same thing happened when I walked in on her belting out a section of Rihanna’s “S&M.” I all but hollered. “What in the world?! Do you even know what S&M is?” Thank the Lord this time she shook her head “no,” a deer-caught-in-headlights expression plastered across her face. So thanks to Rih Rih and her sexually advanced pop music, I had the awkward responsibility of explaining sadomachicism to my tween before she left for school in the morning.

That’s probably not the way any sane mother wants to start her day, but I wanted to tell her myself. Just banning her from the song would’ve sent her straight to Google or one of her classmates — I don’t know which is worse — and that would’ve been another opportunity for not only overexposure but misinformation.

So now I’m not quite sure what to do: make her street smart and savvy, even though she’s still young, or shield her from trifling or tasteless content with the flimsy explanation that it’s just too grown for her. I’m not even sure if there’s a one-size-fits-all approach for all media. But eventually, she will be too old for me to shield her eyes and ears. And I don’t want her to be totally clueless when I’m forced to pull my hands away.

Do you still shield your teens and tweens from stuff on TV and the radio?


Image via Mykl Roventine/Flickr

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