This is a question that was posed to me for an article I was asked to write for The SkyKid website. It seems a great topic to think about from a parenting point of view, too. So here it is, let me know what you think. Do you hate your kids’ music? Why?
Why do my parents hate my music when theirs is SO lame?
And not only that, your grandparents hated your parents’ music when they were growing up.
Music feeds a need inside us. Good music is good because it taps an emotion and makes us feel. When we are teenagers our feelings are often raw and huge and almost constant. Music connects to that, and helps explain and validate those feelings. It’s always been like that, for hundreds of years. That is why every culture and every generation in the whole world, since the beginning of humans, have had music.
The music your parents listened to when they were teenagers felt like the first and only “real” music to them. It was written by people their own age with similar experiences and feelings and it made sense to them. Now, you have music you love, written by people your age who really get you. So it’s pretty obvious why most adults wouldn’t feel connected to today’s popular music and why music from twenty years ago or more sounds just “OK” or even stupid to you.
So why should it matter? Why are you and your parents arguing about this? Love and fear.
Love makes us want the people we love to appreciate the stuff we love. Even better if they can agree. Example. You see a movie that you really like. You tell your friends about it. If they’ve seen it, you want them to have liked it too. If they haven’t seen it, you want them to go see it (and love it) and you’re pretty sure they will, since you feel connected to them.
It’s the same with music. On those days when you like one of your parents and want to feel connected to them, you play your music where they can hear it. It is really frustrating if they reject that music because it feels like a rejection of you. Same for them, when they play music they love and you don’t feel it.
If you want to solve this, you have to be fairly sneaky. Your parents might never like your music but they do like you, most of the time. They will listen to your music all day if it means that you tell them more about what’s going on in your life. So after they hear something that is important to you and you don’t want them to disrespect it, tell them one thing about the song that means something to you. Really want to hook them in? Tell them WHY it is important to you.
To avoid lying and saying that you love their music, but still be respectful (which matters a lot to your parents) you can listen to their music, and try to figure out something about their teenage life from it. There are a lot of clues in music about what mattered to the people it was written for. You may discover some surprising things about your parent.
Fear is a bigger challenge. Why should your parents fear your music? Two reasons. One is that your musical taste is proof that you are growing up. That’s probably one of the reasons you like music – it can feel like freedom. The second reason is one you may want to reject.
Some music is actually damaging. Most music talks about experience and emotion. Some music makes danger sound appealing. Even if we disagree when we listen to it, a good song charms us into believing its message. In much the same way as subliminal messages in commercials, the more often we hear suggestions that violence is exciting, that sex has no consequences, that money solves everything, the harder it is to resist believing that.
If the music you love conveys messages that your parents fear, you will continue to have conflict over it. Remember, though – you have the ultimate weapon. The more you are willing to talk about this with your parents, the more they will respect your views. This often means finding new ways to say what you feel like you’ve already said. It means speaking a lot more respectfully than you want to. It means being willing to compromise or negotiate.
Is it worth it? Might it be easier to just have your parents hate your music? Well, when people who love you hate something you love, it can really suck out a lot of the fun. And you know that music is a great way to connect with people. So it may be worth some extra conversation.