Is ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Appropriate for Little Swifties? Parents Weigh In

written by KATHY SISSON
is taylor swift's new album appropriate for kids"
is taylor swift's new album appropriate for kids
Source: @taylorswift
Source: @taylorswift

Last summer, during Taylor Swift’s performance of Champagne Problems at The Eras Tour, I found myself emotional as I looked around the stadium at the tens of thousands of fans singing along. In the crowd was the cute tween next to me with her dad, the little Swifties I’d seen on the way in, and the twenty-somethings I spotted in the cutest Eras Tour outfits. As a 40-something mom of two daughters witnessing such a peak moment of girlhood (and who maybe had one too many tequila sodas) I was brought to tears thinking about all the girls in the stadium. You all have so much life ahead of you to live, I thought, and I’m so excited for you. I knew the younger Swifties weren’t fully grasping the context of the lyrics, but I loved how passionately they were singing along. 

I was reminded of this moment as I started listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD) for the first time with my 8-year-old daughter. She’s a huge Taylor Swift fan and eagerly anticipated the new album. As we listened, I was one of the parents who couldn’t help but notice the large quantity of f-bombs and mature topics. I wondered, is Taylor Swift’s new album appropriate for kids?

I like TTPD the more and more I listen to it. Taylor Swift is a storyteller at heart and I love stories (piano tracks like How Did It End and Peter are my favorites so far!) But my 8-year-old wants to be entertained. Her hot take was that it’s a little too slow and sad. She was missing upbeat bops like on her favorite albums Red and Reputation. TTPD wasn’t written for the littlest Swifties, and that’s OK. 

So is Taylor Swift’s new album appropriate for kids? Here’s what other parents are saying about The Tortured Poets Department and why this parent thinks it’s OK for young fans to grow into Taylor Swift’s new album. 

Is Taylor Swift’s New Album Appropriate for Kids?

What Parents Are Saying About ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

A post in the public Facebook Group “Taylor Swift’s Vault” with nearly 500,000 members sparked tons of commentary from parents and non-parents: “I feel bad for all the Taylor Tots because most parents are not going to deem this album appropriate,” Crystal Barkley wrote. The comments on her post are (thankfully) mostly positive, so it feels like we’ve made some progress from judging female artists like the Britney Spears shaming of the ‘90s. Here are some of the responses:

“As a member of her original target audience and with all due respect to the Taylor tots, good. I’m glad. It’s for us.” wrote one commenter, Stephanie DeVaughn.

“Does it make me a bad mom because idgaf? We are JAMMING to this tomorrow…” commented Alex Glossner.

“My kids are listening to it. It’s just words. They hear worse from adults.” commented Nicole Sunshine Valdez.

“Clean version. Not Tays job to decide for moms,” commented Elyse Kroon.

“Yeah I feel like the song where she says f*ck like a hundred times was a little much and I’m not even a mom or a prude lol. I just know she’s a better writer than that,” added Meghan Mazar.

“It’s not for them. Signed, the mom of a Taylor tot,” commented Katie Reeder.

Another commenter Allie O’Boyle echoed some of my thoughts, “90’s kids were screaming to Barbie girl…when we were kids and were just fine. Your kids will be fine. They likely won’t even understand the context. They hear swear words more often than you think. Let them enjoy it.” 

In the summer of 1995, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was blasting on repeat through the AIWA speakers in my bedroom. I’d just turned 14 and had absolutely no idea what was happening in that theater. But I loved her album then and I love the album now. It remains part of the seminal soundtrack of my growing up years, but one I appreciate so much more after understanding more of the lyrics. I wonder whether this will be how The Tortured Poets Department feels for my daughters? 

Is There a Clean Version of ‘The Tortured Poets Department’?

Yes! If you’re hoping to avoid curse words, the clean version of The Tortured Poets Department is on Apple Music and Spotify. However, it’s worth noting that removing the swear words doesn’t mean you’re free and clear of questions from your little Swifties—like when I had to age-appropriately explain the lyric “unbuttoned my blouse” in Taylor’s song Is It Over Now on 1989 (Taylor’s Version).

Little Swifties Will Grow Into ‘TTPD’, But Hopefully Not Too Fast

Another commenter on the Facebook post from Helley Chatham spoke to some of the emotion I felt at The Eras Tour, “Explaining [to my kids] that they’re probably going to feel these emotions in their life and relationships is hard (and hard to accept because obviously I don’t want them to experience it!) but knowing they’ll have Taylor to help them process makes me proud tbh.”

With two kids on the cusp of tween life, I know growing up is going to come with some complicated feelings—it’s not all going to be upbeat bops. But listening to music is one healthy way to process those emotions and learn that you’re not alone in your feelings.

“Growing up is going to come with some complicated feelings—it’s not all going to be upbeat bops.”

To be honest, I’m still processing TTPD two weeks after its release, but for now, I’m not censoring it, per se. Rather, my 8-year-old is choosing other Taylor Swift songs from the expansive catalog of songs she simply likes more. My daughter can “Shake it Off” to her heart’s content and picture having fun with her girlfriends at 22. TTPD will be there for her when she’s ready—even if I’m not. But, just like I was for the girls at The Eras Tour, I’m so excited for all that life she has yet to live.

Why I Didn’t Take My Daughter to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour
Click to Read