Ahh, the memories of stake youth dances and the Book of Mormon distance between partners. Most of the time I didn’t have a particular boy I liked, so these dances were most often a time to go with my group of friends and have fun being silly and wearing funny clothes just for kicks. A bit nerdy, perhaps, but good clean fun.
The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet encourages youth (and adults alike) to choose good music and dancing for entertainment and to help you become closer to the Lord. Music is a fabulous way to share how you feel—that’s one of the reasons we sing hymns in church so often. They’re a great way to bear testimony of the principles of the gospel. It’s also a form of prayer according to Doctrine and Covenants 25: 12.
With all the good that comes from music, a lot of harm can come as well. I’ve noticed more and more that I have to change radio stations or turn it off completely because the lyrics to some popular music these days is not uplifting and teaches some pretty horrible things like making violence, drug and alcohol use, sexual immorality, and denying God all while using questionable language and suggestive beats. I don’t think of myself as a prude or especially easy to offend, so when I change the station, I’m really stunned at the messages being so overtly broadcast.
Last summer I was driving some of the Young Women home and a “sad” song came on. The song was about child abuse, rape, and other horrible things our youth shouldn’t be familiar with. I was horrified. After changing the song, I found myself explaining to these young women that they shouldn’t listen to those horrible things. They protested that already knew about those things, but I reiterated that just because you know they happen doesn’t mean you should familiarize yourself with them and that you shouldn’t have to feel sad when listening to music. The memory of that song and conversation still fill me with sadness, especially since there is so much uplifting music available.
My plea today is for parents to know what their kids are listening to. Change your own music habits to invite the Spirit, and encourage your family to do the same. Provide uplifting options, and explain to your kids why some music isn’t okay. They need to know from someone they trust and respect how to choose good music and to recognize the joy that comes from good music and dancing.