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Yo-Yo Ma

Once, years ago, I got into an argument on a baby-names forum about music.

A woman had posted a thread asking how other mothers felt about music and children. Her argument was that she allowed her children to listen to whatever music they wanted to because how could they possibly choose for themselves if they didn't know what to choose from.

Mothers around the globe, and more specifically on the forum, applauded her.

I did not.

'What types of music are you letting them listen to?' I asked.

'Jay-Z, Snoop Dog... whatever they want!'

I was shocked. Her children were.... children, young enough to be significantly influenced by what they heard. I said as much and immediately became the bad guy.

Attacked from all sides I found myself alone. I considered how naive I must have been to assume that it made sense to everyone that controlling what your kids saw and heard was important.

It made sense to me!

This goes out to my Brooklyn crew put ya guns up in the air if ya feel me
(If ya feel me) *&!# 'em all day *&#! 'em all night we don't love these *&!#

(This goes out to my Brooklyn crew put ya guns up in the air if ya feel me)
If ya feel me (*&!# 'em all day *&!#'em all night we don't love these*&!#)

Why would I want my children listening to that!?

No one seemed to agree. So I took another tactic.

'Okay. I get that you want your kids to be able to make their own choices. Kudos to you.' --This is where I dropped my bomb-- 'So I'm sure you're giving them every opportunity to choose. Along with JayZ and Rage Against the Machine I'm sure you're also filling their ears with Yo-Yo Ma, and Tchaikovsky, and Josh Groban.'

Silence reigned. No one responded back to me. They just glazed right over it and went on with their conversation.

And therein lies the problem with our society. We rant and rave about choice. People argue constantly that they don't go to church because they want their children to be able to choose.

What I want to know is how!? What? What are you giving your children to choose from? How are they choosing religion when they have never experienced it?

How are they choosing a symphony when all they have heard is rap?

Wouldn't it be better if our society chose the higher ground and allowed our offspring to decide from there rather than stand at the bottom and expect them to climb by themselves?

We have every opportunity in this day and age, and in this country, to give our children the very best. THE VERY BEST.

The best music.

The best education.

The best foods.

The best clothes.

The best houses.

The best books.

The best friends.

Anything and everything we have in this country can be the best the world has to offer... and yet we choose not to take full advantage of that.


I'm not talking poverty here. I'm talking choice.

The choice between the Yo-Yo Ma and JayZ.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up: To more than I can be. -Josh Groban

I'd like to give my children every opportunity in the world to choose. I want them to know what the best is. I want to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing they made their own decisions.

And I'd sure like it if they didn't choose JayZ.

Jenny Matlock


GardenofDaisies said…
I agree with you. Young kids should be making decisions about things like if they want to wear their red or blue t-shirt. Or if they want peanut butter or cheese on their sandwich. Or if they want to listen to Raffi or Laurie Berkner. At this age their choices should be limited to protect their innocence.
As they grow older their range of choices will need to expand. And by high school they will probably have been exposed to all sorts of things as their friends become a greater influence than their parents. It happens. They rebel as teens, and they do things we wish they would not. That is a normal part of growing up. But generally when they are given a good foundation they will mature and turn into very fine adults.
I like to think of it as roots and wings. I gave my children roots... a good foundation, and a steadfast love. And as they got older I gave them wings so they could practice flapping (expanded choices, more responsibility, and of course consequences.) And by college they were ready to leave the nest and fly. (with a few calls to Mom and Dad for advice every now and then.)
laterg8r said…
i agree, i say let them choose from the good stuff and leave the garbage out! :D
Riet said…
My idea. Great Y word
JDaniel4's Mom said…
I agree. We eat lunch listening to NPR's classical music.
Nora Johnson said…
Totally agree! Great ‘Y’ post – so interesting & informative.

Happy Alphabe-Thursday,


PS Mine this week is HERE. Hope you can join me!
What is this world coming to?!? Seriously!? I love that you stand up for the "right" and of course I think what you think is "right" even when we would be criticized for being so bold to think it is "right".
bij said…
Jay-Z is not bad at all..I mean sure he talks about guns and drugs, but from his perspective and what he knew growing up. obviously your kids are not in that kind of environment. he came from the bottom with absolutley nothing and became enormously successful. It is that kind of independence, hunger, and dedication that I think all people should have. however, you would not know that Jay-Z is about all of that because your ignorance won't allow you to give him the chance, and your kids will not choose to listen to that because of your clear opposition to it.
Well, then, I must really have been a square because I didn't let my kids listen to anything that didn't have a message about the Lord in it or a message of love or good As they got older, we branched out from there but it never and I repeat never included songs that had foul language or killing or sex or vile anything. Now, if they choose to listen to that now, I don't know about it but I don't think they have ever chosen to listen to it. I was sort of over the top, probably. My husband always loved a variety of music and so when they were with him, he played current things but never anything that had a bad message. But at home, I had all sorts of things I didn't expose my children to including TV shows or movies that weren't wholesome or that had witches or demons or sex etc. I wanted them to choose LIFE and life more abundantly. We laughed a lot about my list of "no you can't watch that either rules" as they became adults. I told them that my philosophy was "if in doubt, throw it out". I was responsible for them unto God. They watch what they wanted when they were in college but they still didn't watch trash. Now that they have kids, they all of a sudden understand....and they have "rules" too. I really loved your post and I completely agree with you.
Cannwin said…
bij... you're right I am clearly opposed to that form of music. I would not, however, call myself ignorant since the majority of music I listened to as a teen (and in my early twenties) would fall into the category that Jay-Z is in.

I'm glad that Jay-Z pulled himself up by his bootstraps, but I see no reason why he should immortalize the very thing he worked so hard to overcome.

His songs glamorize behaviors that destroy, not create.

"This is Sinatra at the opera, bring a blonde
Preferably with a fat a** who can sing a song
Wrong, this ain't politically correct
This might offend my political connects
My raps don't have melodies
This should make n**** wanna go and commit felonies"

Find me a Jay-Z song that brings light into the soul. That lifts people up instead of putting them down and I'll retract my statements about his music.

Until then, I stand by what I said.
Cannwin said…
Permanent Posies,

Thank you! Beautiful comment. I do let my children listen to Top 40 music but I screen which ones. My daughter will give me a list of songs she likes to put on her 'playlist' and I will look up the lyrics before I let her. Generally she is standing right there and I'm finding that it helps her understand that it isn't just the tempo that we care about in songs.
Sweetums5 said…
Stopping by from Alphabe-Thursday. Kudos to you, Cannwin, for your great "Y" post! I totally agree with you. As it is, we are all surrounded by the "culture of death" as opposed to the "culture of life." Everywhere they turn, children can easily fall prey to unhealthy and non-life-affirming images, words, ideas and behaviors. We, as parents, have to make a deliberate effort to protect and surround our kids as much as we are able to with everything in this world that is good and true and beautiful -- because we are made in the image and likeness of God, and everything that is good and true and beautiful comes from God -- while everything that is not, does not come from God and does not validate the gift of life in us.

Don't get me wrong -- I don't believe in overprotecting our kids. But I do believe in preserving their innocence and sense of wonder, and in exposing them to worldly things GRADUALLY and at the APPROPRIATE time, when they are better-formed and able to make healthy choices for themselves. This way, they can enjoy the foundational years of their childhood and youth, which, when you think about it, are really so short, compared to adulthood.

As David Elkind says in his classic book, "The Hurried child," now in its 25th anniversary printing, the world unfortunately disprespects children, sees them as burdens and wants them to grow up right away. Educator, Maria Montessori, also wrote that when children are truly respected, there will be a peaceful revolution in the world.

So in defense of children, I , too, am very passionate about this subject. Educator, Charlotte Mason, also recommended that parents should strive to give their kids the best this world can offer -- like great books, great art, great music, great films -- some of which can be availed of for free or at a low cost, especially in this country. Why give them junk food, like cheap, processed white bread, when we can get them whole, nutritious and filling wheat bread?

And Yo-Yo Ma – he’s just one of the best in the field of music! Why not avail ourselves of the great gift of music God has given the world through him?

Thank you so much for standing up for what is right with your awesome “Y” post!
Christy said…
I am so out of the music world that I don't know who Yo-Yo-Ma is. I agree with you completely - it is my right and responsibility to screen what comes into my house and what my children watch and view. It is like cocaine or meth - they don't need to try it to know it is bad for them and their souls.
Cynthia said…
Oh, I'm so glad I read this post. Such beautiful and honest insight. Thank you.

I completely agree with you as well. Something this reminds me of (that I've heard over and over lately) is that we all have a certain freedom, but freedom doesn't necessarily mean that we can choose whatever we want. That kind of thinking could mean I could choose to run a red light, not pay for a meal at a restaurant, etc. b/c I have "freedom" to do whatever it is I want.

True freedom is when we "work" within what we ought to do (I'm paraphrasing).

Listening to music? Sure, some may see it as harmless. But others don't. Others can see it as influential. As parents, it's important to give our children the truth...and yes, freedom. But sometimes, in my opinion, that doesn't mean without boundaries.

Wow. Does that make sense? I suppose this post struck more of a chord than I thought ;^) Sorry for it being soooooo long!

Well said. That is all ;^)
signed...bkm said…
Children seems to always make their own choices...but what you present to them when they are little will always stay with them.... I was hoping someone was going to do Yo Yo Ma --glad to see you to you and your little ones...bkm
Terra said…
I am not so sure it would be great if the choice they made was the same as ours always...but I have to admit I often wish it was!
Jennifer said…
Whether it's music, food, or TV shows, I give my children lots of options, but I control what those options are. Hungry and want a snack? We have carrots, apples, celery, raisins, hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, etc. We do NOT have potato chips and cookies. Want to watch TV? We have a good selection of DVDs and TiVo'd shows. We also use the controls that come with the TiVo and television to password protect what gets blocked. Same thing with music. Same thing with clothing. Same thing with books.

As a parent, it's my job to teach my children. And while they are learning, it's my job to make sure they are protected from what can harm them. The younger they are, the more protection they need. As they've gotten older, I've been able to loosed the restrictions I've placed on their choices. I don't have to like all their choices; they have different personalities and preferences than I do, and that's fine. (I loathe Barbie, for instance. My girls adore her, though, and I don't think the doll or the movies are actively harmful, so I let them indulge in that. Bratz are off limits, though, and I've explained to them why I think those dolls ARE harmful.)

Some restrictions are always necessary when you're dealing with children. Not having any restrictions in any particular area is rather like letting them decide if they're going to play in the middle of the freeway or not. It's just a bad idea.
Cannwin said…
Such wonderful interaction. Thanks everyone for the comments so far. I love it!

Sweetum- It's sad to think that anyone would want children to grow up rapidly, but if you stop to think about it that is what we do. When we expect them to hop on a bus at 4 years old and go off to pre-school for an entire day. What's wrong with hanging out with mom!?

Christy- Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello... very well. :)

Cynthia- You made perfect sense. Although I find the saying 'freedom isn't free' to be incredibly cheesy, it is also, unfortunately, very true. God never intended for us to live without work. He that man shall 'eat his bread by the sweat of his brow.' We are expected to work for all that we have... without work we have no freedom. (sorry tangent)

signed...bkm- great minds think alike :)

Terra-- It totally depends on the choice I made. Some of my choices I would much rather my children avoided.

Jennifer- My kids eat entirely to many chips and cookies.... daily. :)
Jingle said…
lovely post,
I know Yo-Yo Ma, because my son plays Cello 2.
Ah yes!!! We do need to "...train up a child in the way he should go..." Proverbs 22:6 and "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable...if there is excellent or praiseworthy...think about such things." Philippians 4:8

I totally agree that as a parent, we are responsible rfor what they learn and are surrounded by. give them guidance and the tools to grow into productive, loving and positive influences to others around them.

It is important to know what our children are listening to, watching and reading...

Blessings & Aloha!
(I have a "Y" post up, but I hope you get a chance to stop by my last week's X post...I am blessed to hear and share a few of our son's original music)
Well I came over for Alphabe Thursday and I have to admit I was disappointed you used a Jay Z song that mentions Brooklyn in it's lyrics as that is where I live and I unfortunately feel a LOT of people have a poor sterotypical view of my wonderful borough of NYC as if it one big slum or ghetto.

I hope you look through some of my blog and see that is not the case. The majority of people that live in Brooklyn are God loving, good hearted, law abiding kind people, who raise their kids right.
Cannwin said…
Pat! :) I honestly had 0 stereotypes about Brooklyn at all. The only part of NYC that I have ever had any preconceived notions about is Harlem. Other than that most places in New York are piled into one big lump in my mind marked 'Some Place In New York'

:) So don't worry. I really picked it because of the topic rather than the location.
Jenny said…

Almost speechless.

What a wonderful, wonderful link to Alphabe-Thursday's letter "Y"!

First of all welcome.

Second of all, how the heck I have I missed your blog so far.

This was a compelling read. Well thought out and logical.

I have had these feelings so often with many younger mothers and my frustration grows each time I hear "It is their choice!"

They are six years old! How can they choose? What do they know? Where have they been?

This was absolutely wonderful.

I am really happy to have met you through this meme.

I hope to see a lot more of you.

Absolutely my favorite Y post of the week!

Cannwin said…
WooHoo! I just shouted in my living room.

Thanks so much. It felt great to write it. I feel like I've been in a funk lately and this seemed so refreshing to write!

I am excited to be your favorite of the week. I'm totally going to find my husband to show him :)

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