Friday, August 22, 2008

Music Madness

Good morning everyone. Jenn - over at juggling Life - posted yesterday about "pop culture" being used as a teaching tool for her kids. The song she used to illustrate the message was Paradise by the Dashboard Light (meatloaf). Go read the post to see her message.

My message today has nothing to do with using pop culture to teach your children. It does have a lot to do with children and the way I interact with mine.

I am a realist. There is very little that I censor from my girls. College Freshman has tried to explain how our family works to her new friends, but in her words "you just have to be there" to understand.

From the time they were small we sang in the car. As a result - we listen to country, rap, boy bands, cute pop stars, crooners, blues, jazz, classic rock, etc. I love music in all forms and as a result - they both do too.

An illustration here - I own this 2 cd set. Hot Summer Night, Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth, and Paradise by the Dashboard Lights are all favorites in this crew. We know when they are coming on AND we choose parts. Yes - as a singing family there is harmony involved. What did my girls learn from all this - well yes the messages in the songs were probably not appropriate for them, but they learned tolerance, circumstances and consequences, they accept that my favorite music may not be theirs (acceptance), sharing, listening, working together make a more beautiful message and that speaking up for your part first is the best way to assure you get it (decision making).

Bonnie Raitt - one of my favorites ( and this is a great cd) - the girls tolerate this one. "Dimming of the Day" is the favorite song of choice today (subject to change)

The girls have friends who are often surprised by our rules at the house. I am not picky about the clutter. I am very picky about respect. Once Molly was able to drive, there was no set curfew hour. (The state has one for new drivers). The only rules were - tell me what time to expect you home (and be there then), what you are headed to do and who you will be with, and notify me if your plans change. My expectations have always been clear and if I hand down a punishment, it is clear and carved in stone.

I am the mother of a young woman who recently became a legal adult. Through the teenage years and driving and dating - I looked for her once and then had one other issue with the change of plans thing. Both times the punishments were swiftly delivered and appropriate for my child and the situation. I do not back down when I hand out punishment.

The message here is show me respect and maturity and I will return that favor to you. The more responsible they were the more freedom they received.

Susan Tedeschi - this cd is the one playing in my player right now. Having heard and enjoyed several artist version of Angel From Montgomery, hers is my all time favorite.

A former sister in law hooked me up on this one many years ago. Her Clothing - both of my girls are fairly modest in their clothing choices. Molly has a dormmate who who is majoring in boys. Her stepmom has set a pattern of "racy" attire and that environment has resulted in the same kind of attire being worn by said recent adult. We openly discuss attire of stars - schoolmates - adults. I knew my girls had absorbed what I consider appropriate when we were watching The Hills one night and Abby remarked that the shirt on one of those girls was way too tight. I asked her to explain and she pointed out that the buttons were strained and that it just looked too small. All handled in a non sexual way - she just though it looked bad. Again - continuous - open - conversation since they were very small.

Eagles - we fight over this one. Now that they have mp3 players and have this on them - I got it back (oh yeah)

We never had huge arguements about church. We all went as a family. The girls prominant friends all go to church with their families as well. Without preaching, we lived this lifestyle of caring and compassion and forgiveness. I never pressured them about dressing for church, if they wore shorts and a tshirt and went happily, I was okay with it. Each of them developed their own faith statement using all the input around them. Molly is now seeing the benefit of having that solid foundation under her.

Now that she is out and on her own, will she remain active in a church? I don't know. I hope so. When she comes home, we will go as a family just like we always have. If she gets away from church, will I be offended? Nope. I will continue to love and chersish and support her no matter what. I will pray that she remains active and/or find her way back.

This young man can play anything with strings. First heard him on the Saturday night before the 9-11 terror attacks. We flew to Tampa/St Pete to hear Pat Travers and Rick Derringer perform. This kid (he was just barely old enough to drink) opened for them and in my eyes and ears stole the show. Hot Tamales and Riverview Drive are my recommended choises here.

Talk about sex. Open and honest again. In an environment that is not embarrassing for anyone, again because it was always accepted. I have my Dad to thank for my approach to this subject, he always answered my questions directly and honestly and openly. You want to see a daddy blush, have one of your girls use the slang term for a sex toy shaped like the male anatomy in his presence. One of the local shopping establishments here has a private room for adults only and the Softball Princess announced that's where they sell d*&^$#^. Dad was mortified and appalled that his little girl even knew the word.

The last group here has a direct connection to us. This is Reservoir Dogs and (l-r) Cain Harper (drums), John Atkinson (lead vocals and known to us as Uncle John), Tony Stewart (bass) and Rich Smith (lead guitar) are all friends of ours. I have performed many a night of drunk girl backup singing with John. He is the Man at my Address's Baby Bro. I even spent this past Saturday night doing that very thing.

What have my girls learned here? About life and death - truth and consequences. John lost his 3 year old son many years ago in a drunk driving car accident. His ex wife was drunk and at fault in the accident and we all lost a beautiful little boy. We all have had to forgive over and over in this situation. We never hid any of it from our girls.

We frequently drink while we are spending a night partying with the band, and if one of us drinks the other choose to be responsible and drive. My girls have seen the responsible pattern of drinking over and over. There is alcohol in my house, again we openly discuss and demonstrate the responsibility and my girls need no illustration of the consequences of this bad decision. Both of my girls KNOW that they get that free phone call home if they need a ride. NO questions, no comments. College Freshman is now old enough to party, but not drink, and she will be going with us some and on her own now. I only hope that the pattern is strong enough to protect her from a bad decision.

Mistakes - made them. Not a single one out of selfishness or malice. Should I have been as open as I was? We made the best decision we could in every situation. We expose the girls to reality. Financial woes, they always knew when things were tight. Sometimes we told them no, just because we needed to force a night of rest on them. Each of them tried to play mom and dad against each other. If we discovered the ploy, it was immediately squashed and it really never was a big deal.

We welcome their friends into our life. I never mind having them at my house, because then I know what they are doing. We are involved in their activities. Would it have been easier to keep them home and not let them participate - yeah - but look what we all would have missed.

The rewards of my parenting style. Girls that I genuinely enjoy being around. Girls that are good students and who are welcome in other people's homes. I do have hopes and dreams for them, but if their dreams and choices do not agree with mine, I'll love them always.

I hope this finds all of you having a great Monday. Go hug your children - celebrate them and their individual personalities.


Carrie said...

I hope and pray that I do as good a job as you. I'm scared about that.

Laura said...

I love you! Bonnie Raitt is one of my favorites - I wore out a live album of hers.

We want to go see John with you one day!