I am thankful that my kids are (sometimes) taught things in Primary that I don’t like

I was riding in the car with my seven-year-old son on Saturday, and a great ZZ Top song came on (“Sharp Dressed Man”). I turned up the volume, and my son said, “Dad, could you turn that down?”


“Because the Spirit can’t be there when there’s loud music.”

Yikes! What is my son learning in Primary? Could it be that he is learning that all of my favorite music from the 1970s and early 1980s is “bad.” How dare those teachers impugn my music?

But the more I thought about it, the more grateful I became to these teachers (whoever they are). And here’s why: it is a good thing when your kids are exposed to different ideas that are in line with what the prophets teach.

Let’s be frank: a lot of the loud music I listened to (and still love) from my youth is simply inappropriate, especially if you listen to the lyrics. My favorite bands — Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, AC/DC — sing some pretty raunchy songs. I have heard them so many times that I stop listening to the lyrics. But a lot of the songs have curse words or are clearly just extended sexual innuendoes (ahem, “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin).

So, I am glad my son is hearing this in Primary.

Now, let’s be clear: I am not saying that you personally if you like this music (like I do) should stop listening to it. I plan on still listening to all of my favorite music from the ’70s. I have a temple recommend, and I go regularly. I don’t think I am unworthy, and I don’t think you are unworthy, if you listen to this music. So, let’s please not get any overreactions about how intolerant I am, etc. One of the favorite past times of people on the Mormon blogs seems to be trolling around intolerantly castigating other people for being intolerant.

My only point is this: I am glad my son is getting exposed to another viewpoint. He certainly is going to be exposed throughout his life to plenty of loud, inappropriate music. It is inevitable. It is nice that there will be a little voice in his head saying: “don’t listen to this music — it is not really good for you.”

I predict that all of my kids will make their own decisions on what kind of music is appropriate. My teenagers listen to all kinds of music that is, frankly, absolutely disgusting. But is it that much worse than some of my favorite songs from the 1970s? Er, probably not.

So, I thank the person who exposed my son to another viewpoint. He will get plenty of people telling him the opposite view, i.e., “it is old-fashioned and ridiculous not to listen to the most modern, hip current music.” A bit of balance will help him make his own, informed decisions as he grows older.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

14 thoughts on “I am thankful that my kids are (sometimes) taught things in Primary that I don’t like

  1. I remember a FHE we had growing up about music appreciation. We listened to music from different eras. Mom made mix tapes for everyone … it was one of the best I remember.

  2. I don’t know where else to put this, but I don’t find NYT article fair, but twisted and politically motivated. I don’t mind its linkage, but its mildly offensive. Much of it is a misreading of Mormonism.

  3. Way to go Jr. Biddulph! To do the childhood rebellion thing against the ol’ man, and to do it in a totally righteous way!

  4. Is this technically a teaching you don’t like? It seems that you actually do like it; you just don’t follow it too strictly.

    What about a teaching that you not only don’t follow strictly, but you don’t like at all?

  5. “Because the Spirit can’t be there when there’s loud music.”

    I take it his primary teacher has never heard of Mozart or Motab (both of which can get quite loud).

    That being said, one of the reasons I send my kids to public schools instead of homeschooling them is to introduce them to other viewpoints. I think it’s important for children to know that it’s okay for people to have different views, and that a teacher can hold different views than a parent and still be a good, intelligent person.

  6. And yes, I agree that a lot of music out there (everything from pop to punk to classic rock) has bad or questionable messages.

    I’ve heard certain people in the church say things like “all rock is evil.” Often, I think, they’ll say this because they don’t like the genre. They don’t care for electric guitar, or whatever. But the church is pretty specific on the issue:

    “Choose carefully the music you listen to. Pay attention to how you feel when you are listening. Don’t listen to music that drives away the Spirit, encourages immorality, glorifies violence, uses foul or offensive language, or promotes Satanism or other evil practices.”

    For the Strength of Youth

    So rock is fine, as long as it follows those guidelines.

  7. Tim, that is one of my points — I don’t think it’s bad for kids to be exposed to different viewpoints on a lot of subjects so they can decide for themselves as they mature and learn.

    Trevor, your first point is well-taken. I really don’t want to go off-topic, but even at this web site there are examples of permabloggers having questions/concerns about different church policies. In general, I don’t have any major problems with central Church teachings.

  8. “Loud music” is a problem? Is that why we have such lousy music in so many of our worship services–someone told someone else that to be worshipful you had to sound like a bunch of milquetoasts?

  9. I also am glad my children are taught values in Primary/YM/YW, by their leaders that may or may not reflect what we really do in our home. THey learn everyone has their own opinions and not all LDS think alike. As for music or TV or movies with a little questionable language or situations. I tell them, if I hear them say whatever, than whatever it is, goes off for good. That always gets my kid’s attention.

    Mark B- I agree, some happy praise music would be good to wake everybody up 😉

  10. My kids were propagandized by their Primary teachers into believing they had to grow up and attend BYU. That I did not take kindly to.

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