I was struck by a flood of memories last week when I saw an article commemorating the 20th anniversary of Britney Spears’ first Rolling Stones Magazine cover from 1999. Suddenly I was six years old again, begging my mom to let me go to the Britney Spears concert. I started laughing to myself as I reminisced my pleading, “Please mom! By the time you think I’m old enough to go to a Britney concert she won’t even be a singer anymore!” Little did I know then, Britney would still be performing well into my early adult years.
Somehow my parents caved and agreed to take me along with my sister and our older cousin to see her live in concert. But by Britney’s second dance number, my mom realized her initial gut-decision was right. She dragged the three of us out of the concert and from that point forward my sister and I were forbidden from all things Britney. Mom and Dad both agreed that she wasn’t the best role model for their young daughters who they were trying to raise in line with their strong Christian values. I, however, was devastated. This was the first true point of contention between my mom and me, and my dramatic flare definitely did not make things any easier on her.
I couldn’t understand why all of my friends were still allowed to listen to Britney and watch her music videos. I thought it was the end of the world when I was the only girl at school who hadn’t bought her new album – it was all “SO unfair.” I recall throwing more than a few temper tantrums in protest. Mom just “didn’t get it.”
My arguments were always answered with something along the lines of, “One day when you’re older you’ll understand why I’m saying no.” And Britney was just the first of many “no’s” to come. My personal favorite was a sign on our front door when I had my first high school party that read “NO alcohol past this point!” – THAT wasn’t embarrassing.
From Britney to boys and everything in between, my mom stood her ground. She continually told me she wanted me to be the best person I could be--that she was saying no for my own good. Back then I thought she was just being unreasonably hard on me. But my opinion slowly started to shift when I went away to college.
It was there where I began to comprehend the boundaries my parents laid out for me in my childhood. Most of my friends from high school in our small hometown had a Christian upbringing, but college was different. I witnessed firsthand what it looked like when people didn’t have lines drawn in the sand for them and it wasn’t pretty. I saw a lot of pain and instability, and for the first time, I appreciated the rules I had so long resented.
Flash forward to present day. After seeing the Rolling Stone flashback cover of Britney, I went back and listened to a few of the songs from that first album. After just a few minutes of listening, I exclaimed, “I would NEVER let a six-year-old listen to this!”
And there it was. I called my mom and said, “Well it happened, just as you said it would. I’m older…and I REALLY understand now. I hope you’re happy!” We both laughed hysterically as I questioned how she could even agree to let me go to that first concert?! I never thought I’d thank her for the Britney boycott or for the countless “no’s” thereafter, but here I am forever grateful.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)