Do You Hear What I Hear?

It is by far one of the worst three hours of my life every year. It’s not going to the dentist, a colonoscopy, or even spending time with the in-laws (who happen to be wonderful people). It’s watching MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMA). I know what you’re thinking, "why would I willingly subject myself to three hours of torture instead of watching literally anything else (or nothing at all)"? Because it’s important to me to know what our teenagers are watching and listening to. And even though it’s not really your job to know, you should probably be paying attention to it too.  

This year’s VMA is August 27 and is being hosted by Katy Perry, who happens to be a pastor’s kid and a role model for a lot of young girls. Unfortunately, she also happens to embody a lot of what we don’t want our teenager girls to be. None the less, she is probably a “safe” host for MTV and likely won’t be nearly as bad as Miley Cyrus was in 2015. Miley was so bad that year that they ditched the host all together in 2016. Some of the big names that are going to be on stage preforming include Pink, Kendrick Lamar, Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd, and Ed Sheeren. If you don’t recognize one of those names, ask a teen if they do and see how quickly they can name a song from them. You see, even though I try to stay up to date on teen pop culture, I have no idea who some of the artists are. I’ve never heard of Logic, Khalid, or Post Malone until today when I looked at the VMA line up. They literally have billions of views on youtube and I had never even heard of them. But I asked a teen if they had heard of them and they said of course. They are surrounded by this stuff all the time, where I just pick up little bits here and there. 

And that’s why it’s so important for parents to try to stay connected to what their kids are connected to. Not because you actually like hip hop but because your kid does and you love your kid. There are countless studies about how music affects the listener, but even beyond the psychology there is an important spiritual aspect that we need to pay attention to. One of the performers has a song called “Wild”.  His official music video has over 300 million views on youtube which means there’s a good chance your kid has heard this song. I didn’t know that it was Khalid but I’ve heard it on the radio before. These are some of the lyrics from the third verse.

Ayy, ugh, ugh, I heard that p***y for the taking
I heard it got these other n****s goin' crazy
Yeah, I treat you like a lady, lady
F**k you 'til you're burned out, cremation (burned out)
Make it cream, yeah, Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang
Throw that a** back, bouquet, bouquet

My guess is this isn’t exactly what you want your kid to listen to, but have you ever had a conversation with them about it? One of the things you’ll hear me say a lot is that you need to have open and honest conversations with your kid about phones, social media, music, movies, and all other sorts of technology. They will hear stuff like this eventually, whether it’s now while they’re still young or when they move out of your house and get to figure it out on their own. It’s so important for you to help them walk through the process of figuring out how to handle and think about what they put into their system. Don’t just ban an artist because you heard me bash on them. Listen to their music with your kid and then ask them how it portrays women, or what feelings it brings up in them. Ask them why they like that song or that artist and help them find other artists that they can still relate to.

The tricky part is just because someone says they are a Christian doesn't make their music wholesome. Kendrick Lamar is a “christian” rapper, but if you pay attention to his lyrics and how he portrays himself you might not be keen on letting your kids listen to him. But have those conversations with your kids because even as adults we struggle with what we should an shouldn't subject ourselves to, it's devastating that we let them wrestle with those same challenges on their own.   

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Nathan Persell serves as our Youth Director. When he's not leading devotions and playing basketball with teenagers, he enjoys disc golf and bike riding. Learn more about Nathan here