Taylor is the popular girl at my daughters’ all-girl school. All schools have popular kids. This popular girl holds some sort of easy charm, often leaving some girls pining for that social standing.

Normally I wouldn’t be too fussed about the popular girl; however, I believe that Taylor is stepping onto my parenting turf. And, when it comes to the well-being of my children, I am fiercely territorial. I try to put a safe veil of values around my children and fill that space with friends and family who live by wholehearted behaviour. Measured against my values, Taylor doesn’t qualify to occupy the safe space I diligently try to maintain for my children.

Wrong Way

Taylor seems to be ‘worldly.’ Mixed with her popularity, she doesn’t mind openly sharing her thoughts. My parenting urge kicks in when Taylor holds court on a checklist of failed relationships. Her warble of fantasies and flings rankles me. In my mind, relationships are not flippant, and relationships of the heart should not be fleeting. Relationships need care, selfless attention and devotion, so I don’t care for Taylor’s endorsement of weekend flings.

I feel uncomfortable knowing that my daughters have fallen under the spell of the popular girl, even more so when I tuned into Taylor gabbing about the intimate details of her relationships. Her popular status seems to have a mesmerising effect on my daughters and their school peers. Her impressionable, young audience listens intently to tune into the inane details of her “next mistake” and making “magic, madness, heaven, sin” of the next romance, stating that love is a game and marketing her charm with “wanna play?”


I am hardly going to whisk my children out of school due to the less-than-ideal influence of Taylor. Filling my children’s safe space with cotton wool wrapping is hardly a protected space. Locking the world out for the sake of an opinionated diva is not my idea of a fix. Instead, we do honesty remarkably well in our household. Open, forthright discussions are the norm. We have plenty of children-centred, hearty conversations about perilous and praiseworthy behaviours that could play out.

However, I also realise that anyone can be seduced into believing that some perils are okay. I don’t want the constant presence of the popular girl to normalise the unhealthy aspects of Taylor’s lifestyle. And, I wouldn’t be so worried, but Taylor is Taylor Swift, and she commands a persuasive presence. Her music is magnetic and her persona is dynamic. Naturally, she is exciting and attractive to young girls.

My dad instinct kicks in to try to coach my children toward healthier influences. It seems like a daunting challenge, trying to hold out against the screaming popularity of the American pop juggernaut. I hold a hope that Taylor soon runs out of material so that her brag of “got a long list of ex-lovers” and “I could make the bad guys good for a weekend” runs its course. Instead, it would be awesome to hear her put lyrics to a romance that she regards as precious… that is heartfelt… is giving and affirming… and runs to happily ever after.

Ill-Conceived Gift

Unfortunately, in my Greg-in-the-blue-corner versus Taylor-in-the-red-corner stoush, I took a blind-side smash. My precious seven-year-old was gifted the latest Taylor Swift album for Christmas. There is not a cell in me that can rationalise why a young girl should be treated to cheap lines like “boys only want love if it’s torture.”

Not long after my daughters came into my care from Christmas afternoon, they nattered about the Taylor Swift CD and perfume they had received. When children receive such gifts from a parent, they know that there is an implicit approval of the lyrics, the merchandise, the video clips and modelling shots.

I am left upset that my children have a week-about exchange of care during Christmas that features two homes with a confusing inconsistency of values.

Taylor, I hope that you can set about a deep, convicted love and respect for yourself. I hope that there is soon to be a relationship for you that has you devoting to every weekday, not just one weekend. Relationships are rich beyond any conventional measure. When you fall truly, deeply, madly for a kindly soul that you measure by the pounding and longing of your heart and not measured by your accountant, please belt out a tune that my kids can hold on to. I want you in my corner to fight for kids because your magnetic appeal can be a constant presence that, being a separated parent, I don’t have. Please, find the experience and belief of the most complete relationship and sing it into the hearts and minds of my kids. I would love to be able to buy your album this year at Christmas for my children.


Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom.

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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