Christian parents are faced with dilemmas in music choices for their kids…”Should I let my kids listen to secular music?” “Should I get involved in my children’s music choices?” “Where do I find help to keep up with the latest Christian music?”
The answer to all these questions is “It depends….”
There is a proverb in the Bible that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it”. (Proverb 22:6 NIV) Laying a foundation of good music choices as infants and toddlers goes a long way toward averting poor choices later.
Infants and Toddlers
Ideally, a Christian parent would start infant children with Christian lullaby music. The lyrics to these songs are wholesome and often contain Bible verses or principles. This gives the baby a head start in learning about and growing in their faith. One of the most popular series is the Praise Baby Collections Sleepytime Lullabies.
Toddlers have a wide range of Christian music available to them. There are action songs, sleepy time songs, sing a long songs, and even songs to act out skits. Many of these resources were initially developed for Children’s Church or Sunday School, but have become so popular as to be released in most stores. Sunday School Songs is one of the most popular sing a long Cd's. Kids love dancing and “performing”. Parents enjoy knowing the children are learning about their faith while they are having fun. Wise parents begin to talk to their children at this age about the songs. Ask your children what they liked and what they learned. Their answers will vary almost daily. The important thing is to get the discussions started.
Prior to nursery school you will need to decide if your children are going to be allowed to listen to secular music. Remember that music is heard on movies, DVD’s, cartoons etc. So, this decision will affect multiple media if you want the decision to be consistent. For example … Disney songs are not specifically Christian. Are you going to allow any of the Princess movies in your home? Will your kids be allowed to go to someone else’s house (the babysitter, or friends) and be allowed to see what the other children see? This is a personal decision for each Christian family. Christian parents often allow secular movies and music, but only after the parents or someone they trust has screened them. Many Christian radio stations and family ministries have movie and music reviews to use as guide. Check the websites and newsletters of ministries you trust.
By the time children are in elementary school they are exposed to multiple television channels, a myriad of music styles, and are influenced by their friends. If your child has already been trained on good lyric content, you simply need to reinforce those choices with continued discussion about why some songs are better to listen to than others. Ask what the lyrics mean to them and why they do or don’t like them. Kids at this age start to become very impressed with the style of the musician … clothing, hair, and music style. They generally are not aware of the musician’s lifestyle choices yet. So, as a parent, you need to be upgrading their music with the latest Christian music that is comparable in style to what the kids’ friends are listening to. This is where the local Christian Bookstore becomes your ally – you can walk into the music department of almost any Christian Bookstore, tell the sales clerk who your childs’ friends listen to and walk out with several comparable Christian groups. Many of these groups also have devotional books available to reinforce their messages, be sure to ask.
Junior High and High School
Junior High and High School is when parents have the least control over a childs music choices. They begin to be aware of the rock and roll lifestyle choices as well as a greater range of artists and music styles. Hopefully, by this time you will have laid a good foundation with the kids. You will be able to talk about music in a variety of ways, including how it influences your kids choice in hairstyle and clothing, how a certain song makes then feel, and if they agree with any given line in the lyrics.
If there is not a history of music discussions with your children, your parenting decisions get much more difficult. Remember that your home is yours and your child does not rule it. But, whatever rules you set, you must be willing to put the effort into enforcing consistently. Your decisions are going to vary widely depending on the child and the circumstances. There is no cookie cutter answer.
When your kids are in Jr. High and High School you can reinforce positive choices by doing some homework about Christian concerts in your area. Most Christian radio stations have a listing and the local Christian Bookstores generally have a good idea of what is happening locally. There are also major Christian music festivals held throughout the summer, many drawing well over 25,000 people. You can do an on-line search to find them. Find ways to get your children to these events, go out of your way to make sure they attend with friends. Your local church youth group may be sending a group under supervision. Call them and ask – even if you do not attend that church your child will probably be welcome. These events are generally very trendy and fun, but most importantly, have the potential to impact your kid’s lives permanently.
Encourage your child to keep up with their favorite artists. Most Christian musicians have a website, and can be found on Facebook and twitter. The goal of most Christian musicians is to point your child’s heart toward God. Be sure to take full advantage of all the help they offer.
The absolute best way to find Christian bands appropriate for your kids is to ask other Christian parents. Do you have recommendations? Leave a comment...I'd love to hear about your favorite bands.