Join With Your Kids In What Is Meaningful To Them
Teens and Their Music
I remember when I was a teenager
how important music was to me.
In fact most of my peers identified themselves
very strongly with the music they listened to.
The groups of people sitting together in the cafeteria
were most often bonded by their taste in music.
Parents Just Don’t Understand
I remember the feeling of separation
that came from my parents and most adults
not being able to understand or appreciate
the music that I was enjoying.
I’m sure it must have sounded like noise to them.
I could feel that and it made them seem
like almost another species.
I Want Her To Feel Understood
This is why I always paid special attention to
validating and joining in with
my daughter’s taste in music.
I encourage her to play her music
whenever we are in the car together.
I listen very closely and try to
pick out things that I like.
I share with her these observations
of what I enjoy in her music.
She Feels Deeply Accepted
I know this has a profound effect
upon how accepted she feels.
My daughter also identifies very strongly
with the music she listens to and
the fact that I am able to be there with her
enjoying it is tremendously meaningful to her.
There are a few examples that stand out in my mind
that demonstrate just how meaningful it has been.
Her Friends Are Stunned
I remember many years ago when
my daughter was in grade 6
I was driving her and some of her classmates
home from a soccer game.
I gave her the aux cord and she put on some screamo.
If you don’t know screamo here’s one of her favorite songs:
The other girls in the car whispered to her conspiratorially:
“Your dad lets you play this music in the car?
My parents would never let me
play my music when they are around.”
He Doesn’t Just LET Me…
“Not only does he let me play it,
he actually enjoys it.”
Her friends said:
And with a tone of confidence,
pride and a sense of truly being
loved and accepted she replied:
I will never forget that moment.
It was such a clear indication that
the effort I had put into appreciating her music
had not gone unnoticed.
Learning to Like It
When I first heard the screamo
I found it challenging.
Instead of recoiling from it
I took the time to listen very deeply.
I sought what was interesting,
pleasing or remarkable about it.
I soon heard how complex the music was.
The bass and drums were so intricate.
And the passion of the singer moved me.
Once I connected to these things
She could feel my sincere enjoyment of the music.
Asking What is Meaningful To Her
Earlier this year as I was preparing for
a parenting workshop I was delivering
at a youth conference,
I asked her if she had any thoughts about
what I could share with the other parents
that I was going to be talking to.
Without hesitating she said that
I should tell them how important it is
to accept and enjoy your kids music.
She said the fact that I enjoy her music
means so much to her.
Her Friends Feel a Lack of Acceptance at Home
She also expressed how difficult it is
for most of her friends whose
parents don’t feel that way.
They feel deeply misunderstood
and undervalued because of this.
The implication of this is of course
that she herself feels deeply understood,
valued and accepted by me.
Her Friends Feel It Too
Recently a friend of hers came over to hang out.
As I was driving them somewhere
the young man asked if he could play some music in the car.
I said sure, I’m open to and
enjoy a lot of different kinds of music.
He played some indie rock music and
I was bobbing my head and enjoying it.
I asked him some questions about the band
and other music that he enjoyed.
An Unusual and Unexpected Show of Interest
He was so moved by this unusual and unexpected
show of interest from an adult that
he actually texted my daughter the next day
asking her to ask me what my favourite bands are.
Then he sent over a list of recommended listening for me.
I could feel him seeking that feeling
of validation from me.
It was like receiving a glass of water
after crawling through the desert.
Seek Out As Many Opportunities To Connect With Them As Possible
This kind of connecting experience is not only for music.
This can be done with technology, food,
movies and TV, books, humour and so much more.
They Have To Learn To Be Tough
One of the arguments I often hear against this idea
is that kids have to learn how to be okay
even when people don’t like what they like.
The problem with this argument is that
while this is a good skill for kids to learn,
people usually haven’t thought out what are
the skills, attitudes, knowledge and self-image
necessary to actually achieve this.
The thinking is that if I express to them
that I don’t like what they like
they should be able to be okay with that.
Being Able To Stand On Their Own
Comes From Knowing We Stand With Them
This is not an attitude that comes automatically.
It must be developed over time.
The core of being okay when
other people don’t like what you like
or don’t think how you think,
is to know that you are perfectly acceptable
standing on your own.
The way this is developed in the early years is
in feeling the acceptance for who we are from our parents.
Feeling Less Worthy
When our parents don’t like things
that are very meaningful to us
we feel we are less valued,
less acceptable and less worthy of their love.
You may know that you love them
regardless of whether or not you like their music,
but when they experience your dislike for their music
they relate it to their own selves.
They do not make the separation between
your opinion of their music and their being.
Create a Foundation of Self-Acceptance
On the other hand when we do join with them
in their joys and passions,
when we make them feel that
we appreciate the things they enjoy and value
they grow up with the inner foundation
that they are fundamentally acceptable.
With this strong foundation laid
they have the strength to
combat any obstacle that comes their way.
Our Job Is Not To Test Their Strength,
But To Build Their Strength
Trust me, the world will give them
many many opportunities to test their strength.
They will encounter numerous, endless obstacles
throughout their lives.
We do not have to be yet one more.
Instead let us be the safest, strongest
And most loving place for them.
A refuge from the onslaughts of the world.
A message of unconditional love and acceptance.
This will give them the inner strength to
be the most authentic, successful and
powerful beings they can.