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Should You Monitor Your Teen's Music? A Guide for Christian Parents

As a parent, you want to guide your child in making healthy decisions. An area of frequent battle for Christian parents is whether or not you should monitor your child's music. There are many opinions out there on this topic. Some parents feel that it is their responsibility to carefully listen to all of their child's music and talk to them about any questionable lyrics. Other parents believe that as long as they know their child well, they will be able to tell if a song has a negative influence. Of course, your child will tell you their music is a personal choice, and you're too old to understand. However, you may remember saying the same thing to your parents if they brought up the topic.

The Power of Music:

Think about what happens when you hear a favorite song from your past. Some songs bring pleasant nostalgia, and others remind you of something painful. Music has the power to reach into our emotions and affect us in a way that few other things can. It can influence our mood, change our outlook, and affect our behavior.

For better or for worse, music is a powerful force in our lives. This is especially true for teenagers. They are going through so many changes physically, emotionally, and mentally. They are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in. Music can be a source of comfort or a way to rebel.

Consider music in the movies:

  • If you were to pair exciting music with a research laboratory scientist, you would be prepared for a fantastic discovery.

  • If it's ominous or foreboding, something terrible or horrifying will happen.

Another way of saying it is that music influences your emotions. The same is true for your teenager. The words in songs are subliminal. The words affect the mind without the person realizing what is happening. Just like a commercial can influence you without realizing it, the same is true of music. The lyrics of a song can sneak up on your child and have a lasting impact.

See how unwanted messages from songs can sneak up on your child:

Even when they don't consciously listen. Your teen may say, "I don't listen to the words. I feel the music." However, the message of the words still enters your child's subconscious mind and can affect what they believe about themselves and others.

It's easy for teens to get caught up in the moment and not think about the long-term effects of the music they are listening to. But unfortunately, many songs contain messages that are not consistent with a Christian worldview. These messages can be subtle or overt, but they can influence your child's thinking and behavior.

The power of repetition:

The more someone hears the subliminal messages, the more it affects them. Consider advertising, which is often subliminal. The more people see the advertising, the more likely they want the product. The same is true of music. The more your teen hears a song with anti-Christian messages, the more likely they will believe those messages.

Music and lyrics affect people differently:

Think of yourself. Some music is meaningful to you and resonates with you, and other music turns you off. For example, do you like country music or rock? Do you like a hard beat and loud music or soft and gentle music? Does the type of music depend on your mood?

If your teenager is sad, sad music may make them more miserable. However, it could also help because it allows them an outlet to express their feelings. For instance, listening to a song about the pain of breaking up when they've just broken up with someone may assist them in working through their feelings. However, if they are angry, they may want to listen to music that reflects their anger. This can intensify their emotions and make it harder for them to work through their anger in a healthy way. The same is true of other intense emotions like fear, anxiety, or depression.

When you talk with your teenager about the music they are listening to, be aware of how it affects them. If the lyrics are anti-Christian, that's something you'll want to address. But also pay attention to the overall tone and message of the song. Is it a positive or negative message? Is it helping or hurting your teen?

What If the Lyrics are Against Everything You Believe?

As you know, the standards of a Christian are different than those of much of the world and undoubtedly different from the standards of the music industry. Music about sex, rape, suicide, and murder is perfectly legal. But that doesn't mean you want your child to listen to it.

You may also ask, "How can I stop my teenager from listening?

Let's address these two issues:

What if the songs give a message contrary to Christian morals? Think back to your teen years. Did your favorite music, which you may still enjoy, proclaim the Christian message? Unless you listened to Christian music, chances are it didn't always. How can you address this with your teen?

  • Ensure what you listen to is in alignment with what you're telling your teen. If it isn't, remember that it's essential to match your walk to your talk. You must lead the way with your faith journey!

  • Talk with your teen, not at your teen. If you have concerns about the music your teenager is listening to, don't hesitate to talk with them about it. Have a discussion. This means a give and take. Express your views as clearly as possible and give them a chance to share their thoughts if they will. You may also want to consult with your teenager's youth pastor or another trusted adult for guidance.

  • Understand that songs about rape, murder, and suicide are dangerous. If violent messages resonate with your child, they may have an issue that your minister or a counselor could better address. A depressed child listening to music about suicide may need professional help.

How do you stop your teen from listening to inappropriate music?

The truth is you can't. You can, however, set standards in your own home. If you don't want certain types of music played, make that clear to your family.

  • You may forbid your teen from listening to music in your home, but you can only control their actions to a limited extent. Phones, computers, and tablets make it challenging to ensure they follow your rules. If you forbid certain music in your home, ensure you have had clear conversations about why. Never try to get away with "because I said so." That usually means you are not clear as to the reasoning yourself.

  • Keep the lines of communication open. Watch for warning signs of a teenager in trouble (depression, anxiety, anger), which differ from the typical angst of adolescence. Get help when appropriate.

  • Above all, pray for your teenager. Pray that God would give them wisdom in choosing the right kind of music to listen to. Pray that their music would be a blessing, not a curse. And pray that God will give you wisdom in dealing with this issue.

Guiding your teenager about their music, or anything else, can be tricky. Be vigilant and strengthen your communication. You don't want to push them away, yet ensuring that they're safe and understanding what can influence their lives is important.

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