When you find out you’re going to be a father, you will most likely find yourself overwhelmed by well-wishers and do-gooders offering advice, wisdom and general hints. Even if you don’t choose to read one of the many great ‘Becoming a daddy’ type books, family and friends will be more than happy to share their advice on anything from helping your wife during pregnancy to how best to potty train a little boy.
One bit of advice I certainly never heard, though, was to start cleaning up your music collection. And by ‘cleaning’ I don’t mean making sure your CDs are all in order (alphabetical, artist, genre, or whatever your preference!). I mean figuring out which ones have swear words in and planning what you’re going to do about them.
I should obviously clarify that you only need to do this if you actually care about your children hearing swear words when they’re little. And I don’t mean that in a dismissive or condescending way – I know plenty of people who don’t, and have heard plenty of stories about how little it has affected the child.
Indeed, some ever swear by (pun intended) NOT changing their language, either to stop swearing being taught by school colleagues or to encourage a more ‘healthy’ view of language. But I personally think it’s probably best to avoid the awkward situations at this early stage (“Mummy, what’s a w@nker?” etc).
It wasn’t until Robert (my son) was born that I began to notice quite how many of the songs and albums I regularly listen to even HAVE swearing in them. And I’m not talking gangsta rap or anything like that – even the most unassuming of artists seems to feel the need to drop an F-bomb every once in a while, it seems. Obviously whilst Robert was very young it wasn’t quite such an issue, but now that he’s an accomplished talker (and a very prolific *repeater*) it’s beginning to become an issue.
As far as I can see, there are a few options you can turn to when faced with this quandary:
Buy ‘radio edit’ versions of all your music
This option is a lot easier if you, like me, have converted / moved your music collection to a computer-based library – iTunes, plain MP3, Spotify or whatever. A lot of artists (or more likely, their record company) will opt to release ‘radio friendly’ versions of their music, especially singles which get a lot of airplay. Downloading a radio friendly version will usually solve your problem, though finding ‘radio edits’ of anything but singles is nye-on impossible. At the moment at least. So as a solution, this is half-arsed at best!
As many people have suggested when I’ve asked this question before, the easiest of all methods is the good old-fashioned ‘well timed cough’ / ‘swift change of volume’ – no cost at all, though it takes a lot of concentration, particularly if you’re driving at the time! It also requires a VERY good memory, to remember when the bad language occurs in every song you choose to play.
Essentially the same thing, but using technology to make life a bit easier. This is the option I am going for, though I suspect it’ll be slow progress. Having asked around on Twitter and Facebook, I was told of a number of tools you can use to self-censor your MP3s – I’m pretty sure most music editors will allow you to do this in one way or another. However, depending on what you want to spend, your options will be varied. I opted for the (free and simple) ‘Audacity‘, thanks to a recommendation from my friend Merryn. I’ve tried it on a few songs so far, and it seems pretty simple (here’s the walk-through I used) – Sara said she could still tell there was ‘something’ underneath my ‘WAHWAH’ effect, but I’m pretty sure that’s just subliminal.
Change your music tastes
The easiest option of all is probably just to not listen to music with swearing in it – and to be honest, you’ll probably be listening to so much Children’s Music (our ‘Best of Cbeebies’ album is currently edging towards the ‘Most Played’ list on my iTunes!) that this may not even be an issue for a lot of people. But if it IS, then hopefully I’ve given you at least one possible solution.
Now, I’ve just got to make sure there’s a version of Audacity that I can plug in to censor MY mouth…