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Music and Parenting: Strengthening Teen Bonds Through Tunes

Written By : Daniel Currie

Published On : 3/11/2024

As we navigate the intricate dance of guiding our children through their formative years, the question arises: Should we dictate the soundtrack to their growth? In this exploration of "Music and Parenting: Strengthening Teen Bonds Through Tunes," I invite you to discover why the answer is a resounding NO, and how music serves as a bridge, not a barrier, between you and your child.

Front view of teen girl with brunette hair and dyed hot-pink streaks with headphones posing for the camera

Music: The Heartbeat of Parenting and
Teen Connection

Music transcends mere rhythm and melody—it's an all-encompassing force, capable of stirring the soul from the depths of turmoil to peaks of sheer ecstasy and serenity. It's this profound impact that makes music an essential, yet often underestimated, element in the complexities of parenting.

Scientifically Proven

It's been scientifically validated: music wields the power to transform our psychological landscape. Research reveals its ability to elevate mood, diminish stress, and conjure a sense of tranquility. The act of listening to music can lower cortisol levels, alleviate heart rate and blood pressure, and trigger the release of endorphins, offering a natural high that nurtures both body and soul.

Red smartphone, red stethoscope, and a pair of white wireless earbuds lying on a bright blue background

"Music has also been found to reduce cortisol levels, help with sleep, reduce depression, and even reduce burnout," according to Penn Medicine. It has become clear that music isn't just sound; it's a balm for the psyche, a release valve for the pressures of life.

Pretty caucasian redhead with eyes closed, cross-legged listening to music with a fantasy background

Release Agent

Another vital benefit is that music can help validate your child's current emotional state and provide a healthy outlet for expression. As a result, it becomes an excellent tool for parents to help their children understand how to regulate their emotions in a healthy, proper way.

In addition, this can create a safe space where children and teens can explore and express their feelings without judgment or fear. Finally, even when all else fails, a good tune can be used as a tool or outlet to distract, calm down, and relax.

Not Just Teens!
Young Children and Toddlers, too!

Music is a superb tool that can be utilized to calm babies and toddlers- and relaxing music can also bring peace and tranquility to busy and stressed parents. On the flip side, music can also create a stimulating environment to nurture the growth and development of a child. Additionally, parents may use music to bring joy to the family and create an atmosphere of celebration.

Communication in Music

Beyond the soothing power and tranquil environment music can provide, it is an excellent method for young children to help experience and understand various emotions and feelings. Many people will go as far as to state that music is a type of sub-language to communicate. Rhythms and tunes allow for emotional communication, a shared connection that you can explore with each other.

Stories have moved me from parents who, by embracing their teen's musical tastes, found a unique pathway into their hearts. For example, my good buddy, Mark, has always had this repulsion for rap simply because he couldn't understand what they were saying. His kid, Lucas, immersed himself in it. My buddy humbled himself and gave it another shot, taking Lucas to a concert. Lucas took the time to help his dad understand what the artist was saying. The outcome? They shared a newfound appreciation for rap together and another avenue of bonding thanks to the common ground with his son.

Live concert, blinding lights on stage with fans facing the stage

Many stories like this exist, especially with the ever-popular Taylor Swift; moms, dads, and teens are now sharing playlists and friendship bracelets—and forging bonds through music. These stories are so much more than anomalies; they're testaments to the transformative power of musical connection.

How Do Musical Sounds Make You Feel? Find Out!

From the ancient drumbeats of our ancestors to the digital rhythms of today's hits, music remains a timeless connector across all walks of life. Whether it was the Hurrian Hymn played on a nine-stringed sammûm or the most recent EDM (Electronic Dance Music) from Tiësto, music has been integral to human civilization, and clearly how it makes us feel.

Cartoon impression of a man and woman, both with brown hair closing their eyes in enjoyment while sitting inside an upsidedown 2-note quaver enjoying music via their smartphones and headphones

While music has been essential throughout human history and has been proven to forge bonds, it is crucial to understand that no two individuals are alike, and thus, no two tastes in music are always the same. What someone might find soothing and nostalgic, another may find sad and fearful. Music can be a great way to express these feelings and connect with our teens (or anyone!) as long as we remember that each person can experience the same song differently.

Berkeley University has done some amazing studies and impressive investigative work on how certain tunes, musical notes, and harmonies evoke certain emotions. Curious? Check it out!

Music and Parenting: DO!

If your child wants to begin playing an instrument, singing, or joining school activities for this, we should always encourage it! Remember, music takes many forms: where it can be done alone or in a group, with instruments or without—and it can even include listening to music, moving to the music, and doing a little improv to whatever is on.

Get Engaged! Here are a few activities you can do to break the music barrier and get involved:

African American family of father, toddler son, and two teen daughters dancing to music in a bright living room

Weekly Music Night:

#1 Homework/engagement exercies

Call it 'Music Monday' or anything you want! Make your day special by playing music when you usually don't, such as at dinner. Talk music. Discuss music, debate your favorite artist, and share why you like a particular song or genre and what feelings or emotions it evokes. For example, I thrive on music that has terraced dynamics, such as a soft piano and vocals dropping on a dime, going all-out screamo, and heavy with drums and bass. It is the peacefulness to full throttle, where that transition pumps the adrenaline, giving the rush of energy.

Create a Collaborative Playlist:

With streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music, it's a cinch. Challenge each other to add songs that you think the other will enjoy, or set themes for the week like 'Songs that Make You Happy' or 'Songs to Chill Out To.' It's a fun, interactive way to explore each other's musical tastes and maybe even discover some new favorites together.

Live Concerts:

Make a point to go to a concert or musical event as a family once a month, a year, or however long you choose. There's something magical about experiencing live music together. Whether it's a concert by your teen's favorite band, a local music festival, or even a classical music performance, make plans to attend a musical event together. Take turns deciding what to see and who to see, and then discuss what you enjoyed about the concert after you saw it!

Creation and Self-Expression

3-person teen band with an African American girl on the left playing electric guitar, a caucasian blonde girl in the center on vocals, and a dark caucasian boy to the right on a bass guitar

Creating music is essential to self-expression and fosters creative thinking. Exploring and creating music builds self-esteem, problem-solving, and motivation, leading to character and individualism. Inspiring your children to explore their creative side and discover different music-making methods is a fantastic idea. Studies show that active music-making positively affects mental and emotional well-being, which helps our children overall.

"Active music-making positively affects neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, that influence mood." - Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare: Megan Hoffer MM MT-BC, Julie Avirett MM MT-BC, Kelsey Bocharski Music Therapy Intern, Joshua Da Costa Music Therapy Intern

What If I Disapprove of the Music?

Caucasian man with dirty blonde hair wearing a pink hoodie plugging his ears in annoyance, looking up with red musical notes on each side of his head indicating bad music

Countless parents disapprove of the music their child or teen enjoys and listens to for various reasons. For example, some disagree with the artists' songs' profanity or viewpoints/statements. Others disapprove of the sound of the music or the reputation of the genre of music or the artist. Whatever the reason that causes you to want to proclaim, "you should not listen to..." certain (or all) music,

I beg of you for the sake of your teen and their emotions: please, give it a chance and reconsider your standpoint. Have you ever considered how a simple melody can open the door to your teen's world?

A Radical Idea: Tune In, Not Out

Keep an open mind. Instead of concentrating so hard on every hiccup of a "bad message" or F-bomb, tune in to your teen's music and get curious about what makes it so transformative to them. "Diving into their playlist is like diving into their inner world," a parent once shared with me, highlighting how shared musical experiences can act as a bridge to deeper emotional connections.

Grandpa listening to granddaughter’s music with some derision on a couch

By inviting your teen to share their favorite tunes, you're not just opening your ears—you're opening your heart. This gesture of genuine interest and acceptance speaks volumes, echoing the sentiment, "I see you, I hear you, and you matter to me."

In addition, ask your teen to introduce you to three of their favorite songs this week, and in exchange, share three of yours. Discuss what you each like about them to spark meaningful conversations. Doing this will also give a deeper insight into their tastes and what makes them tick.

#2 Homework/engagement exercises

Music and Parenting: DON'T

Even if you can't get behind your teen's music after trying to connect with them through their musical preferences, whatever the reasons are, I get it. It's tough. Some of the music out there can be a hard pill to swallow—whether morally, socially, or ethically. Regardless, understand this: The feelings that music evokes and makes a person feel are your child's feelings, not yours. Like it or not, you cannot change or mold your teen's core feelings. It is what makes them them.

If you're worried about the messages in some songs, use them as starting points for open discussions with your teen about values, choices, and understanding different perspectives. It will give you that golden opportunity to see if your susceptible teen understands your family belief system and has good morals.

3 teen girls on a bed in a dark, gothic bedroom with the blonde recording a brunette playing guitar on her phone, and a redhead sits on the side and watches

In any case, do not fret. "A person's mind, mood, and body do not decipher the meanings of words in the same way that the body feels rhythm and beat," notes Dan Currie from CurlyStache Blogs. It's important to remember that it can include somebody's voice, too.

It is also vital to remember that when the message is offensive, good, solid parenting will come in to save the day. If you have raised your child with a robust set of morals and beliefs, especially when it comes to knowing right from wrong, they will be just fine, and the concerning "message" in the song will fall by the wayside.

In Conclusion,

Let this blog be a call to action. Because music, with its pulsating rhythms and haunting melodies, has the power to whisper directly to our souls, weaving an intricated tapestry of shared experiences and unspoken understandings. Let us lean into the music that moves our teens, guiding them with our shared values and open hearts. For every note, beat, and lyric, there is an opportunity to connect, understand, and grow together.

Pretty caucasian teen girl with blonde hair dancing on bed, listening to music with green headphones and phone in her hand

It doesn't matter what the music is- whether it is elevator music, birds chirping, or death metal- lean into it and do not try to shun it away. Remember, if it feels good, regardless of the message it may be delivering, listen on and allow your family belief system and morals to guide you past any sinister messages.

Music is a gateway to your deepest emotions, giving you a control dial to manage your stress and anxiety. Now, it's time to use this powerful tool and unlock all it offers by chilling out and dialing in! So, let music be the bridge you build towards understanding and closeness with your teen. The harmony you create together will resonate far beyond the notes.

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Comments (1)

Guest
Mar 15

lol i love listenting to music with my kids, maybe thats because they have the same taste as me haha. music is the way thru life ya know.

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