Kids and Music: Explaining Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus to My Kids

biebsI grew up listening to Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, and Elton John. There was also some You Don’t Mess Around with Jim, Hotel California, and Piano Man blasting on that soft rock of the 70’s and 80s radio station I was forced to listen to. Believe it or not, Piano Man was the most rock & roll-y song I had ever heard until I turned 16 or so when someone on the football team popped a Metallica cassette tape into a boom box.

Kids my age didn’t grow up wanting to listen to all that crap (I’ll admit, Piano Man and Hotel California aren’t crap, and neither is You Don’t Mess Around with Jim), we listened to those songs because we didn’t really have any other choice. There were two radio stations in the small town where I grew up — one played soft rock hits of the 70s, 80s, and eventually the 90s, and the other radio station played country hits.

Consequently, music has never really been my thing. I don’t get jazzed when most music comes on the radio, and many times I’ll completely forget to turn the radio on in the car all together — I blame you, Celine Dion for that. The only band that really gets me excited is Mumford and Sons — those guys can really pluck a banjo.

Addie and Vivi are growing up very different than how I grew up.  They have access to satellite radio, Pandora, Spotify, Itunes, Amazon Cloud, and on and on and on it goes. They also have VH1 where they love to watch the Top 20 Countdown each weekend (we skip through the inappropriate videos). The artists these days are much more recognizable to my kids than the artists were to me when I was a kid. Addie can be walking by a tabloid and identify Justin Bieber without any hesitation, and the same goes for just about any mainstream artist. Additionally, Addie’s friends have access to the same information as Addie, and they talk about what they hear from the radio and the TV and what they read from the tabloid covers. Kids and music go hand in hand these days (they probably went hand in hand when I was a kid too so long as they lived in a normal place with multiple radio stations and cable TV).

It’s no secret Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus are going through a bit of a rough patch when it comes to setting an example for the kids who view them as idols. Regardless of how anyone feels about Miley’s right to lick a sledgehammer while sitting naked on a giant wrecking ball, my kids aren’t going to get to see any of those antics (a little shamed confession — I’m the proud owner of a digital copy of Wrecking Ball — I also blame that on you, Celine Dion). My kids don’t get to listen to Justin Bieber on the radio or on the TV when I’m around because I can’t stand that kid’s voice, and I can’t stand his better than everyone else attitude either. If only the United States had won that hockey game against Canada so Canada would be stuck with the Biebs.

Even though I try to limit my kids’ exposure to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, Addie still asks me questions about both of them. “Dad, why don’t we like Justin Bieber?” “Dad, is this the song where Miley is laying naked on the floor?” She makes comments about them too. “Dad, I don’t like Justin Bieber because he’s a bad person.” “Dad, I don’t want to listen to any Miley Cyrus songs because she’s a bad person.” Somewhere along the way the message got lost with Addie.

I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus are bad people, necessarily, and I also don’t want them refusing to listen to their music because of their antics that really have nothing to do with their music anyway. I want them to enjoy whatever music they want. Because of how available the information is about the personal lives of these music stars, my daughters are going to hear about Bieber’s alleged assault on a limo driver and his drunk driving in Florida, so burying my head in the sand isn’t an option. Somehow I would like to be able to explain a little more about Bieber’s antics without giving my kids the impression that it is bad listen to listen to his music. The problem is no matter how hard I try to explain that to them it gets lost and convoluted and ends up with Addie hating the artist.

How have you explained Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus to your kids?

Photo Credit: Flickr

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