Teaching my kids the meaning of those country music lyrics

There has been some concern about the safety of the boys while riding in the vehicle. We take these concerns seriously. Rest assured no Hartmans were harmed in the filming of this segment. The boys were both in properly installed child safety seats and the airbags were turned off. The truck does not have a backseat and it is legal under N.Y. State law for children to ride in the front seat.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - I knew my kids had drinking issues, but I didn't know how bad they'd gotten until I saw them sprawled out on the kitchen floor the other day.

Four-year-old Emmett and his six-year-old brother, George, were writing out a list of the top 40 country songs. And if you haven't listened to country lately, I've got some sobering news -- Nashville is alcohol-poisoning the minds of our young people.

They told me: "They're really good songs: "Drinking Class," "Day Drinking," "Sunshine and Whiskey," "Rum."

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George and Emmett Hartman
CBS News

And those are just a few of their favorite titles.

"Whiskey and Water" is another one.

My kids got hooked on drinking songs mostly thanks to one man. His name is Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn. He also hosts a syndicated radio show called "American Country Countdown."

We used to listen to his show on the way to swimming lessons. At first I didn't know the kids were even paying attention to the lyrics -- until the questions started coming. Questions I was hoping to avoid 'til after first grade.

My son George asked: "Why do they do a little day drinking?" and: "It's OK to drink after midnight, right?"

Once I realized what was happening, we cut way back on the country. But the songs were already embedded in their little brains.

I caught my son, Emmett, singing "Day Drinking."

I asked him: "What are you singing? "Oh, nothing," he said

Yes, I felt bad. It wasn't like he was actually drinking. But at the same time I didn't want to let this vice go unchecked.

One day, George asked: "I wonder why these drinking songs are so popular?"

That's an excellent question.

Emmett said it would be a question for Kix Brooks.

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The Hartman boys on the road.
CBS News

It wasn't a bad idea.

Which is why I took the boys to Nashville -- to pose it to him.

Emmett posed the question to him: "Why are drinking songs so popular?"

Kix: "Because...um...sometimes...um..."

Glad I wasn't the only stumped by them.

"Songs are about all different kinds of stuff, he said."

Kix Brooks went on to tell Emmett and George that basically little kids are not their target audience. But he also had some insight for me.

"As a parent, you've got to have the conversation with your kids at some point," he said.

"You're saying this is an opportunity?" I asked.

"It is a wonderful opportunity," he told me.

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Kix Brooks
CBS News

I hate to admit it, but he's right. Because of those songs, I've had many healthy discussions with my boys that I would have never had otherwise. Plus, Kix said trends in country music are cyclical. Soon enough those cowboys will be singing about something else.

Like "God Made Girls."

I may need a drink.

I'm Steve Hartman, on a country road.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.