Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Music and Teenagers

In ivory palaces the music of strings entertains you.
As the parent of two teenagers (and one that will be there way too fast), I know how important music is in the lives of young people today. Whenever my teenage daughter enters her room, she immediately turns on the stereo. And whenever I drive her anywhere, she wants to change the radio to her favorite station.

I also know how today's music can grate on adult ears. It's not just the volume or style; it's the words. The vulgarity, the message, the symbolism, etc. When we understand them, we are shocked that those kinds of messages are being broadcast to our sons and daughters.

One way to respond would be to ban music from the house altogether. Although that may be effective at cutting background noise, it really is not a good solution! Another response would be to come to some sort of compromise with your teen, explaining that he or she may listen to certain stations and artists but not others. That would actually be a very positive and helpful step--but it's still merely the treatment of a symptom and not the problem. We must go deeper.

Contemporary music analyst Al Menconi suggests that we look at today's music as a window to the souls of our children. First of all he reminds us that "the key to winning this battle lies in understanding how personal this music is; it goes right for our kids' hearts. Their music can reveal inner struggles and needs; it can reveal the spiritual and moral health of a child; it can reflect doubts and fears, and even spotlight the happy places in their lives. Knowing this to be true, we can use the music to our advantage. It can help us get to those deeper places in our children's spiritual lives where real ministry can take place."

In other words, we should listen carefully to what our kids are listening to and use their music as a clue--not as a club. Menconi continues: "In coming to understand that music yields important clues to our kids' spiritual and emotional needs, parents can concentrate their efforts on meeting those needs. We don't have to put so much energy into wrestling with the music monster."

This means that we should ask our children deeper questions, and their music can help us know what their needs are. Our kids have questions about love, identity, friendship, and the future--and they want answers. When we know their questions and their needs, we can begin to meet those needs with prayer and answers from God's Word.

 Is this an easy task-No. I still ban certain bands from being played in my home. Some due to the vulgar language they use, some due to Anti-Christian sentiment messages they are very blunt about and sometimes it is due to the person-how they dress, the videos they make- their personal vulgarity. I do try and compromise with "edited" versions of some bands, but it is a constant struggle for us all.

All this to say let's listen to the music together.

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