Talking with Teenagers about Their Music

Parents always tell me, “My kids have those earphones on so I don’t know what they’re listening to.” (I can actually think of several ways to fix that!)

Have you tried just talking with them about their music?

Today’s young people love music, and if you ever have difficulty getting your teenagers talking… try talking about something they love.

Start by familiarizing yourself with top music. You don’t need to go buy a bunch of CDs or devote yourself to hours of study… if you’re curious what music our kids are hearing at school, in the gym, at the track, and in the pool, just pop onto iTunes on any given day and you’ll see the top 10 songs at that given minute. Typically, those songs are a very accurate representation of what teenagers are listening to. That’s why in my parent workshops I always take parents on a quick tour of the iTunes Top 10.

If you were to jump on iTunes right now, you’d see song Whistle still sitting at #1, where it’s rested for a few weeks now. This song is about…. well… here are the lyrics:

Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby
Let me know
Girl I’m gonna show you how to do it
And we start real slow
You just put your lips together
And you come real close
Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby
Here we go

I think you get the gist (more on that song’s meaning here).

After clicking around iTunes for yourself, just sit down with your teenagers and talk with them. Don’t act like a parole officer—just have a conversation. Ask them some honest questions. If you look at the iTunes Top 10 this week you might ask:

  1. Who’s this guy Flo Rida? What’s this song of his, Whistle?
  2. Are you familiar with the song Call Me Maybe? All the Olympic swimmers were singing it. Tell me about it.
  3. What is this new song by the group “Fun” about?
  4. What is Pink’s song Blow Me about?

Treat them like the music expert and have them educate you. Kids aren’t used to this. Many jump at the occasion to inform you about music and youth culture.

Don’t overreact, instead use these kinds of conversations to open the channels of conversation about music in your home. Turn your overreaction into interaction. Don’t lecture, but at the same time don’t be afraid to ask them questions that prompt them to draw their own conclusion about a music’s content (more on how to do that here).

What about you?

How do you walk the fine line between open conversations and setting guidelines?

What are some media guidelines that work in your house?


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