"What do you do if you find your preteen watching music videos that degrade women? I think I'd go for my honest gut reaction: 'It really upsets me to see men treating women like that and women allowing it happen.' It's okay if your daughter answers, 'But they're just dancing!' Explain why it upsets you without needing your daughter to agree. Discussing how this makes you feel may help her think about how she feels."
Jane Katch, M.S.T.
Author, They Don't Like Me
Sharing your daughter's music with her (when you can) or just talking about it (when she says you're too uncool for dancing) is a great way to connect without being too controlling. Here are some strategies for making sure your daughter's music is right for her age and stage.
Preschool (under 5)
She's not ready for music videos.
Don't let your preschool daughter watch music videos aimed at adults and teens. (Watching Elmo dance and sing is fine!) She's not old enough to separate fantasy from reality or to understand what's going on, so she may start to imitate provocative images without understanding what they mean.
Make music fun.
Introduce music and dancing into your daughter's life early on, so that she is used to sharing the fun of music with you. Put on your favorite music (with appropriate lyrics, of course) and dance around the living room with her.
School Age (5-9)
Get to know her music.
Pay attention to the music your daughter is listening to and the videos she's watching, to make sure she's choosing age-appropriate music. But pick your battles: Even if you don't like a song, let her listen to what she wants to as long as you think the lyrics are age-appropriate.
Middle School (10 and up)
Be open to her music choices, and share yours.
In middle school, your daughter will probably branch out in her musical tastes. Try not to criticize your daughter's musical choices. (Didn't you hate it when your mom did that to you?) Listen to music together when you can. Find music you like to share and discuss what you don't like in the music you can't stand.
Ask your daughter why she likes her music.
Simply saying a song or images in a music video are sexist and inappropriate may not get your daughter to turn them off or tune them out (except when you're around). Talk with your preteen about the messages in the music. Ask her what she likes about a song and what age group she thinks it's addressing. Talk about the situations certain songs and lyrics are describing — and what they really mean. This type of discussion may help her dissect the meaning of the song, instead of being consumed by it.