Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Dropped, but Is It Appropriate for Tweens?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

There's profanity and overt references to sex. Should kids listen to it?

<p>GettyImages/Graham Denholm/TAS24/Contributor</p>

GettyImages/Graham Denholm/TAS24/Contributor

Fact checked by Sarah Scott

Like so many parents out there, I woke up to the news that Taylor Swift had released not one, but effectively two (two!) new albums—and promptly shared this exciting news with my kids, who are both budding little Swfities.

My daughter immediately told me she wanted to listen to all the songs while she finished her breakfast. So, we listened to “Fortnight,” the first track and leading single of The Tortured Poets Department album, before she went off to school.

After the kids were dropped off, I debated waiting for them to come home before playing the rest of the songs for myself, but ultimately, I decided to stream the album while they were out of the house.

This proved to be the right call. The Tortured Poets Department is, predictably, masterfully crafted. The melodies get under your skin, the lyrics sear, the diss tracks are scathing, and the ballads will break your heart.

But will the album resonate with kids and tweens? Well, maybe not.

It’s a moody, dark piece of work. The album is full of deeper meaning that I, a 30-something woman, can’t fully grasp upon first listen. So, while kids who love Swift, her persona, and much of her music may want to listen to the album, it doesn’t exactly feel like it will appeal to the new generation of Swifties. This one is for us.

I’m roughly the same age as Swift. I’ve grown up alongside the superstar—and growing up, she certainly has. But while I find myself appreciating the depth of her new work, my kids are, unsurprisingly, all about the singer’s earlier songs.

The Tortured Poets Department is the singer’s most melancholy work to date, which isn’t terribly surprising considering the word “tortured” is in the album’s title. There’s no danceable “Shake It Off,” no whimsical “Enchanted,” no earwormy “You Belong With Me,” no hopelessly romantic “Mine,” no earnest “Love Story,” no radio-ready “Cruel Summer.”

Instead, there are overt references to sex (like the line, “He said that if the sex was half as good as the conversation was soon they'd be pushing strollers”), and profanity. There's even a song where she repeats the line “F you, Aimee” repeatedly (presumably, it's a diss track aimed at a certain reality TV icon, IYKYK).

It would be unfair to expect Swift to remain frozen in time, a teenager coming of age and singing about young love, forever. But as parents, it’s a complicated thing to watch celebrities our children idolize step into adulthood, and spread more adult messages.

Many of us are struggling to navigate the transformations of stars like Olivia Rodrigo and JoJo Siwa, stars who appeal big time to kids but have recently stepped more into their new adult personas.

When it comes to Swift, it’s especially complicated—because many of us parents love her ourselves, and our kids may understandably be devastated if we listen to this album but don’t allow them to do the same. For me—and so, so many other parents out there—Swift marks the intersection between our own musical loves and our kids’. Yet with this album, we may find this overlap doesn’t hold up.

Many kids, my own included, became Swifties last year thanks to the Eras Tour. The concert shone the spotlight back on Swift’s earlier eras, like the Fearless and Speak Now albums, which feel much more kid-friendly. The tour also spurred an entire subculture characterized by friendship bracelets and sparkly dresses and just a complete celebration of girlhood—and as a result, kids, tweens, and teens fell in love with the brand of Swift.

So, what’s a parent to do when that icon their kids love so much releases an album that contains material that’s not necessarily appropriate for their ears?

I wish I had a better answer here, but all I can say is this: Every parent has to figure out their own way to navigate whether or not their kids can listen to The Tortured Poets Department in its entirety and without supervision or censoring.

My controversial take when it comes to profanity is that I don’t worry too much about shielding my kids from it, at least at the moment. I had no problem sing-screaming “F the patriarchy” next to my kids while streaming The Eras Tour movie, though my daughter adorably thinks the iconic line goes “put your patriarchy keychain on the ground,” a mistake I am in no hurry to correct.

Then again, my kids are little, and sexual references and curse words still mostly go over their hands. When it comes to older kids, who can better grasp these concepts and may be influenced in some way by their favorite star’s take on them? I don’t know the right way to handle this type of content with them. I don’t even know if there is a right way. Instead, I think it has to come down to each parent’s comfort level.

Here’s my best advice, from one Swiftie parent to a few million others: Take a pass through the album while your kids are away, if possible. May I suggest taking yourself for a long drive and listening to as much of the album as you can? Hitting up a coffee shop for a little treat is optional, though highly recommended.

Then, come to your own conclusions. Figure out your own best approach. Maybe your kids will listen to and love this new album. Maybe you—or they—will decide it’s not for them. Either way, this is going to be a tough one to navigate for many parents out there…but hey, at least we have some great music to listen to while we contemplate our approach.

For more Parents news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Parents.