Thursday, June 26, 2008

better stories

pink and i had an important conversation yesterday. she's 12 and we've been navigating this "tween" thing for a bit now. she's starting to individualize and define herself apart from liam and i - we know this is an important stage, specifically for us as parents. how to guide her through this process so she knows we're here and there are boundaries, but not to do so with heavy hands and push her into rebellion.

music is one of the ways she is defining herself - not uncommon for pre-teens. i have the itunes account, so purchases are "through mom" at the moment. our agreement is that we sit down and listen to the song together, i read the lyrics, if i struggle with them, she reads them out loud and then we watch the video together. if the song passes that muster the purchase is made. it brings a lot of dialog and interaction. yesterday it created a bit of friction that we processed out together.

she falls into the bubble gum, disney kids type of music. i was thrilled that branched into hairspray recently, but most of the music is "oooh he likes me", "gosh i think he's cute" and "oh, my heart is broken" kind of drivel. it's so difficult for me to watch this young, vibrant lady begin to define herself as a "half" person because her culture is beginning to tell her that without a man in her life she is not whole.

we listened to taylor swift and ashley tisdale songs and so few of them were empowering to her as an individual. it breaks my heart. i started to ask some questions and try to help her untangle the message these songs were telling her. i got the "you only want me to listen to christian music" feedback and i balked. so.not.true. i tried to help her understand that the movies she watches, the books she reads and the music she listens to are forming her stories. it is normal for a lot of those stories to be about relationships, even relationships with boys. but if every story she buys into keeps telling her that she's only 1/2 a person without a man she will begin to believe it.

too much pressure for a twelve year old. too much pressure for my single 40 year old friends. i loathe that kind of misinformation. i used the three taylor swift videos as an example (wow, she is a beautiful little barbie doll that one...)

first an adorable song about a boy who is her friend but doesn't know she exists. the second about the boy who scatters roses in her room and writes her love notes and the third about the boy who has dumped her and she wants to burn his pictures and she fantasizes about trashing his apartment and licking all of his utensils and spitting into his mouthwash. all really well done, all fun, interesting songs w/ intelligent lyrics - but in 15 minutes we have the scope of this little girls life. three relationships that burn bright for a millisecond and flash out with broken hearts and boatloads of pain. that young, beautiful woman will be shattered by mid life with these kind of rotating door relationships.

i got to tell pink that even if you do get the boy who writes you love notes and scatters roses at your feet it lasts for a whole 10 minutes. liam and i had a wonderful courtship. but was it reality? 25 years later, if feels like about 10 minutes. i just long for her to balance out the dreamy romance with stories that form her into her whole self. stories that empower her. stories that open her up past the doors of the school and the dances and show her the vast world that is waiting for her.

that is why bands like superchick float my boat. it's not that they are "christian" - most of their songs have little to do with "jesus" specifically - but whole life, facing the hard places and moving through them. those are the kind of stories i long for her to hear.


Anonymous said...

So very true. I have two girls entering the tween stage. And both are very much into music and you are right it is very important to make sure what they are listening to doesn't give them a one-sided look at like. We used to be pretty much a Christian music only family. But then we moved last year to the hills of TN. And where we live the only station I can get in my car is country. So we have become converted country music fans. And we talk with our girls about those same things when we listen to Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood.

Candy said...

This is a powerful post. Music is huge to these kids during this time. These are amazing conversations you're having with your daughter. The fact that you did will become a huge part of her story.

bobbie said...

igya-country music actually makes me itch... i do like the dixie chicks & the eagles (which i don't consider country) and my daughter swears she doesn't either - but just likes taylor swift because her friends are listening to her...

candy - thank you. i love the idea of building into her story.

Sarah Louise said...

I heard a mother say something today that resonated--when my daughter became a teen I couldn't keep up with all her reading. You have to trust at some point that everything you've taught them up til now will sink in, even if they go a little bit off course.

And of course, quote from High Fidelity (the book or the movie) "Did I become miserable because I listened to pop music or did I listen to pop music because I was miserable?"

And totally unrelated, but writing it here will help me remember it: poster I saw in K-mart today: Tis better to have loved and lost than to live with the insane maniac your whole life.