With her latest album sweeping the top 10 slots on Billboard’s Top 100 – a first for any artist – Taylor Swift is getting a lot of airtime. Her music speaks to the human experience of wondering about who we are and what other people think of us. She explores the risks and rewards of self-discovery and close relationships. She raises existential questions about meaning and purpose.
Mothers and daughters debate the truth of her songs. Young children bop their heads to her beat as they listen to the car radio. Older girls mix her tunes into their streaming playlists. Her choruses become earworms and, for some, shared anthems.
Whether children are diehard Swifties or just dialed into pop music, try out some of these activities that link spiritual reflection to songs from Midnights. [Access the ‘clean’ versions if you prefer to avoid the explicit language of some official versions.]
Lavender Haze Taylor Swift – Lavender Haze (Official Lyric Video). With its strong background beat, this song explores social expectations for girls and the confusion they can create. Ask children: What options do you see for yourself in the world? When do you feel pressured to be or do certain things? How do you resist being sucked into social expectations that don’t match your dreams?
Karma Taylor Swift – Karma (Official Lyric Video). One of the themes of this song is that actions have consequences. Invite children to list all the different things that Swift associates with ‘karma’. Create a flow chart together that tracks the kinds of things that flow from positive actions and those that flow from negative behavior.
Anti-Hero Taylor Swift – Anti-Hero (Official Music Video). Self-doubt and uncertainty are part of self-discovery, but they can also be paralyzing. Encourage children to draw a self-portrait that reflects both what they like about themselves and those parts of themselves that they question or worry about. Suggest that one half of their face or body represent things they see as positive assets and the other half things they wish were different.
Labyrinth Taylor Swift – Labyrinth (Official Lyric Video). Sometimes life’s challenges can be a lot to handle. Suggest to children that a simple breathing practice can help them find their way through hard times. Invite them to try taking a deep breath, hold it for a few beats, and then let it out slowly. Repeat several times.
Midnight Rain Taylor Swift – Midnight Rain (Lyric Video). Having big dreams can mean changing in ways that leave others feeling uncomfortable with the ‘new you’. Ask: Who discourages or belittles your dreams? Who supports your dreams and helps you change to realize them? Encourage children to create and send thank you messages to their supporters.
You’re on Your Own, Kid Taylor Swift – You’re On Your Own, Kid (Lyric Video). Standing up for oneself and one’s beliefs is a necessary skill for change-makers. Invite kids to identify issues that they believe are worth fighting for. Then suggest that they close their eyes and imagine how they will face those who might oppose their cause. (See Related Resources for a guided meditation script you can use.)
Bejeweled Taylor Swift – Bejeweled (Official Music Video). The music video for this song is Swift’s version of the Cinderella story. Encourage older children to talk about the similarities and differences with the original tale and what it means to be ‘bejeweled’ and ‘shine’ as yourself. (For a conversation just about the song lyrics, use Taylor Swift – Bejeweled (Lyric Video).