One of the greatest things about teenagers is the wonder, passion, and intensity through which they see the world and live their lives. They are curious, thoughtful, and dramatic. For many teens, music becomes a major way to express themselves and feel through their emotions. The love struck teen makes a playlist of love songs. The heart-broken teen listens to sad songs to get through loss. The athletic teen listens to music to get pumped up for an event. The happy teen blasts music and sings along. Teens are not afraid to dance to music in the rain, or play it loudly throughout the house and from the car.
The massive increase in technology certainly presents challenges for parents. However, technology can also help you stay connected to your teen. The important thing is that your teen learns to protect his/her online identity, and that you guide and monitor their use. YouTube is very popular site among teenagers. With YouTube, teens can listen to any song they want and create playlists of their favorites. You too can create a YouTube account, and subscribe to your teen’s playlists (as long as your teen has made them public). I personally have a YouTube account, I subscribe to my teens lists, and I mine through their music. You may or may not like the same kind of music your teen likes. But, there are a number of reasons to tune in!
1. You Can Use Their Music To Express Your Feelings For Them. I came across the following song while looking through one of my son’s YouTube playlists. It says so much about the relationship I have with both of my children. It also says a lot about who I want to be for them. One line in particular says, “You can ALWAYS come home”. I gave both my teens this song and told them it made me think of them. Sometimes, it is the simple things that say I LOVE YOU!
2. You Can Learn About Your Teen. The music your teen listens to can reflect his/her interests. Songs communicate a range of experiences, beliefs, and desires. While it can be easy to be concerned by some of the lyrics, don’t get stuck there. Teens often overlook the negativity and stand in the values you have taught them. Depending on your teen’s age, lyrics may even go over their head. Knowing what your teen is listening to can be the first step in having a conversation about what you think.
3. Music Creates Relationship Through Commonality: I once heard a dad tell a beautiful story about reconnecting with his son by taking him to a Metallica concert. He was excited to share that the silence that was present on the way to the concert was non-existent on the way home. In fact, his son talked his ear off, not only about the concert, but about all kinds of other things that were going on in his world. The father was proud of himself for being able to sit through the whole concert, even though he preferred classical music. He told his son that “they were not as bad as he thought they would be”. But, he left out the part about wearing earplugs the entire time. The point was never to fall in love with Metallica’s music. It was to spend quality time doing something his son loved.
4. It Gives Your Teen An Opportunity to Share: Being a teenager can be like living in an entirely separate society. Our culture even perpetuates this by using terms like “youth culture”. The concept of a “youth culture” is that teens live by their own set of rules, roles, and responsibilities, which separates them from adults. This separation can as teens feeling like adults are always telling them what to do. When you show an interest in their music, you are giving them an opportunity to share a little piece of them. They are left feeling like you are interested in them.
5. It Helps You Understand What They May Be Going Through: If you pay attention, music can cue you into what is going on in your teen’s life. You can use a song to start a conversation, or to show that you are interested in them or what they are going through. You can also use song lyrics as a teachable moment. For example, rather than sitting down at the table to have a conversation about drinking alcohol, use the lyrics from a song to generate a two way dialogue.
6. It Keeps You Current. Teens like it when adults understand their world. Whether or not you actually like their music, it makes them feel accepted for who they are if you know something about it. Parenting teens is never a popularity contest because we must always be present to protecting, coaching, and disciplining. Knowing their music can, however, up the “Cool Factor“.