Be Contributing Writer, Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar
We have a span of children ranging in age from infant to 19. I never anticipated how hard it would be to ebb and flow as they grow, to know when to protect and when to let go, when to make rules and when to let them make their own. We are, after all, in the business of working ourselves out of a job.
Add to that quagmire of parenting that each child is different, some more mature than others, some with better discernment than others, and all with different personalities requiring me to handle them differently, and we’ve got ourselves a full time operation here.
Is there a handbook for this? There should be.
One such sticky opportunity presented itself this week, and it has really challenged not only how I deal with this issue, but how I apply it to my life too. My 14-year-old son wanted to download music to listen to while he worked in the yard. (There’s another one: at 14, do you even set boundaries on how long they should be allowed to be plugged in to music?)
I decided that at fourteen, we needed to at least be helping him through the process of scrutinizing potential music instead of telling him what he can or can’t listen to.
A 14-year-old boy-man is a precarious thing. He loves things different than you, and his tastes in music and entertainment may not be the same as yours. Does this make it bad? Here’s what I worked through with him:
- We have a grid through which to pass our choices of media. The things we take in affect us. With that said, we should measure, in this case, songs, by what Scripture first says of it. To which I pointed Philippians 4:8.
Questions that came up: Does that mean all music has to be Christian?
What if I like a Christian song that doesn’t really sound like a Christian song?
- Music is art. There are many types of art. There is great art and there is mediocre art. In my opinion, there is too much great art to settle for less.
- Tastes are developed through repetition. What we listen to the most will likely become what we crave.
This was a hard conversation because, admittedly, I enjoy secular songs from time to time, and I don’t always listen to top notch art. I think a secular song can be completely suitable for Christians, and I think some “Christian” music isn’t always the best choice.
But I want my son to develop these principles of discernment. I want him to decide if a song categorized as “Christian” is the best choice when the lyrics mimic a love song, making no real distinction. Or if it is good to develop an appetite for a mediocre pop song when he could be soaring to great works of art.
As we disciple our children we aren’t just giving them rules without reason. And ultimately, we are removing the rules and leaving only reason, with the intent that they will wisely choose for themselves. Good parenting is passing on tools to our children with which they can see the world through a biblical worldview, make wise choices of their own and grow into mature Christian adults.
Did I mention this is hard?