Should Kids Listen to Nicki Minaj?

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By Lyz Lenz

Growing up, my parents tried to shelter me and my siblings from popular culture. We weren’t allowed to watch much television; absolutely no news and only Christian contemporary music, with some exceptions for Neil Diamond and the Eagles. Yet, despite my parents’ best efforts, my siblings and I snuck our clock radios into the closet, eagerly memorizing the lyrics to the top 40 songs.  I knew Madonna was “like a virgin” and someone was supposed to “pour sugar” on someone else “in the name of love.” But what those words actually meant escaped me.

So, years later, when I was pregnant, I vowed not to needlessly shelter my own children. I was determined not to shelter them. I wanted them to hear real music, and I vowed to let them watch the news.

But the first time I played the radio for my sweet, little daughter, I was horrified. Every swear word, reference to sex and allusion to drugs leapt out at me. “When we were kids,” I told my husband, “sex in music was a metaphor—pour some sugar on me, and the like. Now, they just say ‘do me.’” My husband was horrified. “Wait, that Def Leopard song is about sex?”

Now that the post-partum hormones have run their course, I’m not quite so judgmental about the music we play in the car. I listen to books on CD, which frequently reference drugs, murder or worse. I do let my daughter watch the news with me in the morning, but she barely pays attention. And while she seems to enjoy Matt Lauer’s voice, I don’t think she understands the finer nuances of the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor.

When she starts becoming more aware and asking questions, I’ll tone down the books on CD, at least. But I sincerely believe, none of this will damage her.

Recently, a video of little Sophia Grace Brownlee singing a Nicki Minaj song went viral. The song references sex, among many other age inappropriate things, but the little girl sings the song with such gusto it’s hard not to admire her talent.

In response to the song, many parents are questioning whether that song is appropriate for an eight-year-old to sing and criticizing the girl’s parents. But I think critics are too quick to react. When an eight-year old belts the words to a song, it’s innocent. She has no idea what she is saying.

When I sang, “Like a Virgin” to myself in the bathroom at the age of 10, I was clueless what I was actually singing. I just liked the song and loved Madonna.  No doubt, little Sophia Grace Brownlee, is doing the same.

And watching her sheer joy meeting her idol on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” well, how can you criticize that?

What do you think? Would you let your daughter listen to Nicki Minaj?

About the Author:
Lyz Lenz is a writer, a mom and a midwesterner. Although, not in that order. She lives in Iowa and on the web at


What music is and isn’t appropriate for children? A mom weighs in.

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