Stop – Hammer time!

Anyone who knows me well enough will know that I have no problems listening to any genre of music.  The Bible does not put limits on what style of music is “acceptable” and what is not.  As Bob Kauflin points out in Worship Matters, “Scripture doesn’t come with an accompanying soundtrack.”  Music as an art form can be and should be enjoyed across many kinds of styles.

Although music is amoral, that certainly doesn’t mean that it cannot affect emotions, attitudes, etc.  In fact, music that DOESN’T affect us in some way isn’t very good music.  The challenge for me comes in trying to teach discernment to my tween-who-thinks-he’s-a-teen.  For awhile now, he’s been into all things “cool” which I suppose is a very subjective category, but apparently includes any kind of music that is fast.  This certainly isn’t a problem in and of itself.  But with the “all things cool” category came the “I’m too cool for you or your kind of music” attitude.  That’s when the music becomes a problem.  I’ve had to take away some privileges like his MP3 player.  But I think we were both getting frustrated because no ground rules had been set up for the music he is allowed to listen to.  This is mainly because I was having a hard time coming up with something that my very non-abstract, linear-thinking son could “get.”  Then I had an idea.

Carlos has started to be interested in working with tools, banging nails, and building things.  Unfortunately, whenever he uses my tools, he has a tendency to leave them outside instead of putting them away.  Monday evening I took him out on a date to Chick-Fil-A, but first we went to Home Depot to buy a hammer.  As we ate, I told him that the hammer was a gift from me.  Then we talked about the proper ways to use and take care of a hammer.  You don’t go around hitting people, windows or cars and you don’t throw the hammer around like a ball.  A hammer is used for building things.  A misuse of his gift might end up with the hammer being taken away.

Then we talked about the gift of music.  I said that God has given us music to enjoy and to use for lots of different things, but mainly to praise Him.  But just like we can misuse the hammer doing things that it shouldn’t be used for, we can also misuse music, even “good” music.  Music can make us proud, unkind, and arrogant if we let it.  We can use it to praise God for the beauty he has created or we can use it to praise ourselves.

We agreed on three ground rules for music that he can listen to (borrowing a little bit from Todd Stocker’s Infinite Playlists);

  • No songs with lyrics that speak unkindly, uses God’s name in vain, or  talks bad about God
  • If I see that any particular music is affecting his attitude or his interactions with others negatively, I’ll remove it from his music collection.  It’s one thing to have a bad day every now and then, but as a dad, I can tell when his attitude starts to go downhill and more often than not, it’s because he is letting his need to be “cool” control him.
  • If he’s not allowed to listen to it, he’s not allowed to talk about it.  This one is a big one for Carlos.  He LOVES to talk about things he perceives as cool and if they are forbidden, he wants to talk about them all the more.   This only adds to the temptation to break the rules.

By the end of our date, I felt like we had made a connection.  Only time will tell how much sank in and I fully expect to have to go over these rules again.  But hopefully Carlos will better understand and be able to make wiser choices about what he allows to affect him, and be able to hear the gospel in songs that we sing while not giving in to the “I’m too cool” attitude.  And of course, I hope I don’t catch him hammering on his siblings.

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One Response

  1. I’m so thankful that you took the time and energy to have a special “date’ with Carlos. You are the best Papi 😉

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