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Tuning Into Your Kids' Taste in Music

Tuning Into Your Kids’ Taste in Music

By Wendi Aarons

My kids love crappy music, and I think that’s great.

At ages 11 and 13, they’re now old (and tall) enough to sit in the front seat of the car, and also old enough to ask to switch the radio station from NPR to one that plays Top 40. (Well, now they ask after I yelled, “Get your paws off my buttons, fool!” more than a few times.) I almost always say “yes” to their request, then grit my teeth as the pumping music of Pit Bull, Rihanna, Nikki Minaj or some other artist born after 1980 blasts out of the speakers. Most of it is really not my taste and sometimes, it’s a little painful to endure. (“Truffle Butter”?) But here’s the thing: isn’t it supposed to be? As a parent in her 40’s, aren’t I supposed to think that the music I grew up with is good and my kids’ is awful?

Of course, I fully expected this would happen because it’s happened in every generation since the dawn of time. My parents didn’t like the Wham! and Culture Club my sisters and I blared in our rooms, and I’m sure that their parents hated the Bill Haley and the Comets and Elvis music they adored as teenagers in the late 50’s. And their parents’ parents no doubt wanted to throw the jazz records their kids played on the Victrola into the trash. That’s the way it works. You may love music from all eras and in all styles, but the music you first discover as a teenager is what will always matter to you most.

That’s why it’s important to me that my kids find what they like on their own, or with their friends. I don’t want them to like a song just because it’s something I told them they should like. Because it’s a song that I think is a classic and it doesn’t have “stupid auto-tune.” And they’re doing just that with their iPhones and radio adjusting—finding the songs they like despite my (sometimes strong) opinions. I’m sure there are many studies about generational gaps and why kids reject their parents’ music as part of building their own identities, but I’m not ambitious enough to find them. Plus who’s to say that my music is that great, anyway? Much like humor, Adam Sandler and cilantro, music is subjective.

Still, not a day goes by that I don’t see a parent on social media proudly announce that their kid requested they play The Who or Nirvana or The Clash, and then they add, “My work here is done!” Good for you, if that’s important to you. Dress that baby in an Alice Cooper onesie and start her on guitar lessons at age three. But these posts always makes me smile because I can’t imagine my parents sharing a picture of 5-year-old me hugging a Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album with the hashtag #ourlittlerocker. It just didn’t matter to them that I like their music. (Of course, I now adore their music and regularly listen to on Pandora’s Fit & 50’s station. I love you, Frankie Valli!)

But that’s exactly how I feel about my kids. I really don’t care if they like my music. They spent years listening to me play Aretha, Luther Vandross, The Rolling Stones, etc. and if they one day said, “Hey, Mom? Can you put on that one AC/DC song?”, that’d be great. But I certainly don’t expect it. Just like they don’t expect me to say, “Hey, kids? Can you put on that one Tyler, The Creator song?” Besides, if I did, they’d probably immediately know it was time to stop liking it. Nothing horrifies a teenage boy more than seeing their mom sing along to a hip-hop song. Last fall, my friend Laura’s son told her he was “permanently scarred” after she actually twerked in front of his friends at a Halloween party. Poor Laura. She’s still taking Motrin for the hip injury, too.

But all of that said, I definitely love it when a song pops up that all of us like. “Uptown Funk,” “Happy” before it was overplayed, and that Taylor Swift song about Starbucks lovers are the rare examples. When those songs come on the radio, everyone’s singing, everyone’s happy and nobody’s gritting their teeth and wishing they didn’t have working ears. The generation gap, for three or four minutes at least, is filled. We’re all on the same page. We’re all, young and old, loving the same music.

At least until “Truffle Butter” starts.

 

Wendi Aarons
About the Author

Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at Wendi Aarons, The Mouthy Housewives or starting fistfights near the 70% off rack at Target.

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Comments

  • Susan:)

    Okay, I had to go look up Truffle Butter because I’d never heard of it. Oh my gosh, have you read the lyrics?  Soooo not appropriate for any age kid, not even teens!  If that song came on the radio while I was with kids, I’d turn it off quick!   Actually, it appalled me, I wouldn’t even want to listen to it without kids!  

    But yeah, I agree. Kids don’t have to like the same music as their parents, and that’s okay. They probably will when they’re older. My own musical taste developed in a weird manner. My parents didn’t want me listening to rock music as a kid, which meant basically anything that was currently popular. So I mostly listened to easy listening songs at home. But I got exposed to all the pop stuff from the late 80s and early 90s at school and the skating rink. I call those songs my skating rink songs, and I still love them. New Kids on the Block, anyone?  When I was 12, I decided I was tired of easy listening and switched to the oldies station. I listened to that for the rest of my teen years. 60s and 70s music is still my favorite. But I do like other stuff, jazz, big band, 80s rock, etc.

     I still don’t listen to a lot of current music, I’m always a little behind. But since I live with my sister and my nieces, I hear a lot more current songs than I used to, and I do like some of them. Uptown Funk is a favorite here!

  • Trisha

    As a mother of a twelve year old boy, I tune in to his taste of music, and I enjoy it almost as much as he does. Mostly, he listens to rappers like Busta Rhymes, Tech N9ne, and his all time favorite, Eminem. I appreciate that HE appreciates lyricism and how words rhyme and often writes raps just so he can perform to an instrumental beat. Some of the music he chooses to listen to can be a bit un-PC at times, but usually I don’t mind as long as he knows what is right and wrong. In certain times, when Eminem’s alter ego, Slim Shady states absurdly violent and sexual things, he usually just chuckles and lets me know that he can distinguish between fantasy and reality. I looked up truffle butter after reading this article, and sent the song to him to see if he liked it. He responded, and I quote, “Ewww mom why is this music… Are you listening to this garbage?” I might not enjoy when Slim Shady states that he will perform strange acts to his listeners mothers, but whatever he enjoys is his problem. He openly despises pop music, and while I may enjoy Trap Queen when I’m alone or uptown funk, I respect his decisions and trust him to NOT follow in these rappers footsteps, no matter how much he enjoys “Lose Yourself.”