Do I have to listen to my kid’s music?

Let me be honest. I hate the music my son listens to. I try to connect with him about other things, but music seems to be the biggest gulf between us. The last thing I want to do is listen to it. Do I need to?

Angus – Maryland

Hi, Angus,

You don’t have to, but I think that the best answer is yes, unless you want to be known as an old man, aka your father.

The first album I bought with my own money was Boney M’s Nightflight to Venus. What was I thinking? Well, it was 1978. My parents would have failed if they’d tried to dissuade me. But surely they could have given me some other options. I could have been listening to Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model, Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, or Steely Dan’s Aja (released the year earlier). I’m hoping that I would have given up Boney M in a flash. Instead I played Ra Ra Rasputin nonstop.

This Boney M video and especially the cape-action is a must see.

My son listens to this weird video game-inspired EDM. I truly hate it. But instead of wasting too much energy criticizing, and in turn getting his teenage stubbornness to kick in, I keep my mouth shut. And subtly interject some options to broaden his horizons. Together we’re listening to Steely Dan and Bob Dylan, The War On Drugs and U2, Twenty One Pilots and Panic! at the Disco. Though I’ve requested that he listen to the video game EDM on his headphones, since it gives me involuntary Donkey Kong twitches. I’m trusting that over time, he’ll make educated music choices. And maybe even thank me for it. No one listens to video game electronica or Boney M forever, right?

So, you don’t have to listen to it. But don’t criticize it or spend too much effort trying to get him to appreciate the guitar solo at the end of Wish You Were Here, or it will take him another decade. Our goal should always be to come alongside, not criticize. They’ll like what they like, often in rebellion to what we are trying to push on them.

Chop That Wood