This was the second time I had heard about some majorly inappropriate songs being played by a DJ at a school dance, and consequently, it was the second trip to the school’s office to explain my frustrations, highlighted song lyrics in tow.
While the man I talked to said he would talk to the DJ before the next dance, and that he understood my concerns, the overall tone of the meeting was kind of, “Well, I don’t like the lyrics either, but what can we do? Times are different now.”
And it made me sad.
Schools are spending so much time encouraging the kids to say no to drugs, to value themselves and each other, and to be responsible with sex. But sell enough candy bars, 8th graders, and we will give you an hour of music that says drugs and drinking are pretty awesome, and sex is all a woman is good for. (By the way, if any of you other middle school parents want to know the songs that had me worked up, I can let ya know). We’re contradicting what we are teaching them.
*In fairness, some of the obscenities were silenced or changed to other words, but the overall tone and message of the songs, and some of the language, is still there.
I get it that the kids were probably more focused on the fun dancing than on the lyrics. And it’s likely that this is not the first time many of the students heard these songs. I get it.
I had a Motley Crue tape (that’s right – tape) that I am ashamed to say I ever owned.
But I can tell you that it wasn’t played by my teachers or parents as a reward for me, and when my parent saw it, they took it away. (Good job, Mom and Dad).
Kids need to know that better is expected of them.
What can we do? Times are different now.
Of course there are things we can do. We can start with songs that are fun, yet not encouraging behavior that we would punish our kids for. As a principal and as teachers, we can choose not to promote anything – movies, music, conversations – at our schools that will make a student think less of themselves or each other.
As a DJ, or anyone else involved with kids, even without kids of our own, we can see the 8th graders as our own nieces and nephews, and ask ourselves if we would want the things said in those songs to be said to those we love.
As parents, we need to look at what we watch and listen to. If we are listening to music that says women are only good for being naked, even if it has a nice beat to it, turn it off. We have to explain to our daughter that she is better than that. Explain to our son that girls are worth more than that.
If we are watching reality TV where women are competing for the “love” of one man basically by making out with him, we have to stop. Our girls need to know that there is more to a relationship than sex. They need to know that they deserve more than fighting-tooth-and-nail for a man’s attention. They deserve better. And our boys need to know the things that matter in a relationship aren’t decided in a 60-minute television show.
If we are reading books that promote sex without marriage and love, we must put it down. It’s not worth it. Our kids need to know that there is more to sex than physical stuff. They need to know love is more than sex.
What we say matters. What we do matters. What we watch matters.
Another thing this man said was how times aren’t like they were when we were growing up. It’s different now.
I want it to be different.
I remember being in 8th grade and feeling like all boys cared about was physical attraction to girls. I wish so much that I could go back and tell my 8th-grade-self that not all guys were thinking this way. I would tell myself that it is important to expect respect.
It can be different. Our kids can see us respecting each other and them and learn that this is what is expected. Our girls can know that they are loved and that their value isn’t based on what television, the radio, or another human thinks. Our boys can know that a relationship based on more than physical attraction can be a deep, meaningful, beautiful thing.
Love on the girls in your life today, and remind them how precious they are. Love on your boys and remind them of what a gift they can give to a girl when they can give her respect. And make sure the decisions we make ourselves reflect those truths.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.