Profanity! Reader Discretion Advised

For Christmas, Justin asked for a CD by a band called Mumford and Sons. Now, it pains me to admit this, but I have long privately held the opinion that Justin has zero musical taste. Whenever we’re on long car trips and I’m driving and he’s deejaying, I internally roll my eyes. A sampling of his favorites: Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings,and Hank Williams Jr. with some Run DMC and U2 thrown in for good measure. If we had never wed, I can assure you that none of these artists would take up space on my iPod. One of his favorite songs by Merle Haggard includes the following lyrics:

Eatin’ rainbow stew in a silver spoon,
Underneath that sky of blue.
We’ll all be drinkin’ that free bubble-up,
Eatin’ some rainbow stew.

Eatin’ rainbow stew in a silver spoon,
Underneath that sky of blue.

What does it mean? I don’t know, but I have to restrain myself from jumping out of the car window at 70 mph every time I hear it.

So when Justin had a new band he wanted me to listen to, I didn’t expect too much. But I LOVE Mumford and Sons. Their songs make me want to ride a galloping horse through the Irish countryside and then put on a wooly sweater and go to the pub and clink mugs with the grizzled old fisherman sitting next to me. Exhilarating! Love them.

Anyway, one of our favorite songs is called “Little Lion Man”, and it is fabulous except for a very bad four-letter word that rhymes with duck figures prominently into the chorus. When we were listening to the song in the van with the kids, Justin would just turn the volume down on the radio when that word was about to be sung. We never explained to the kids why Daddy kept turning the music down, and Emma later said she just assumed he was trying to turn it up and couldn’t figure out how to do it. Really? Are we parents so feeble-minded that she would just chalk up a whole song’s worth of the volume going up and down to Daddy’s ineptitude? Apparently.

Will liked the CD so much, he asked if he could put it on his iPod. Justin told him yes but that he couldn’t put that particular song on it because it had a bad word. A few days later we were all back in the van; the song came on again, and this time I was the one censoring it. The song says, “I really f***** it up this time,” so I just sang, “I really messed it up this time.” Jack looked puzzled and said, “Mess isn’t a bad word.” And I said, “Well, they’re not really saying mess. That’s just what they mean.”

The song still plagues us. The day finally came when I was listening to the album in the kitchen with my hands busy and the uncensored chorus of Little Lion Man came bursting through the speakers. Sweet Willy was in the kitchen with me and I looked at him and said, “Look. That word is inappropriate and I don’t foresee a need for you to ever say it, but I cannot keep running to turn the music down every time they say a bad word, and I like that song too much to take it off the playlist.”. He nodded and went back outside to play basketball.

Later Justin came home and I told him about what happened. While I hope they choose to use less offensive words, frankly, if the worst thing our kids ever do is drop the f-bomb, I will consider us a parenting success.


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  1. You could teach them about context and how the f-bomb over in Britain is nothing. It's like saying "really" over here. Teaching opportunity… just saying! ps-I agree that if your kids' worst thing is saying the f-word, that is definitely a parenting success.

  2. No comment on Justin's musical tastes. I haven't heard the group in question, because I am still back in the 1700's with my own musical tastes. As for the f word, I hate it intensly! I don't care if in Great Britain it is considered to mean no more than "really". It is crude and demonstrates not only the depravity of the human condition, but also the effects of that depravity on the spiraling down of the minds of those humans. Of course this has been a good teachable moment for your family.Love your blog site. June

  3. Girlfriend, you go. You guys are great parents who love their children and teach them about faith, grace, and morality. When my kids went to Junior High, I realized that they would be exposed to profanity, likely every day. (well, maybe in elementary school too, but I liked to pretend not.) All I can do is be a good example, and tell them it's a lot like other things – while other folks may do it, it's not okay for us. What else can you do?

  4. Before we even started dating Emily gave me a hard time about my future children swearing like sailors. I'm fairly sure that was from my own usage through–not my music.

  5. Just saw your post. Interesting. I've been in a similar situation. Don't mean to be spamming you but I went out and built an iPhone/iPod touch app to deal with it. It's called Clean Tunes. Let's you edit a song one time and then it'll always play with your edits in place. I can send you a promo code if you'd like (you didn't mention which type of iPod your husband has). Here's a link if you want to check it out:

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