Why is music so ingrained in our teens, in all of us humans? Why does it transport us to a certain place and time? My teen years are a soundtrack of tunes and places. Each song conjures a specific feeling and memory. I’m sure my own kids feel the same.
Did you know your music tastes are imprinted by the time you’re fourteen? That means you like what you like by your early teens and that’s why it’s so hard to branch out to new music. It’s why your kids’ music makes you want to stab out your eardrums. It could also be why your music is the best music EVER!
As I researched for this article, I wanted to understand why music is so important to us as a species, but also why my teenager relies so heavily on it. And why I should try and understand the music that is connected to the slowly morphing teen living in the dark chasm of her bedroom. I can look at myself and see where music fits into my life. I can also see, that for my daughter, it has a whole different role and place.
Why Teens and the Music?
We all use music in different ways and for different reasons. So do our teens. Music is probably even more important to your teen than you suspected.
We use music to soothe our souls or to show our joy. Recently I found out, just how I use music as a salve. My father just passed unexpectedly, and as we were looking for music for his service my brothers and I reminisced about his favorite songs and what they meant to us. We envisioned him singing them at the table or out in the yard working. Of course, we each had our own stories and memories, but it helped soothe the sorrow. The songs we chose for his service helped reveal our pain and hopefully share the burden with his friends and the rest of our family.
Music isn’t just music to your teens! It is them completely. It becomes who they are and how they relate to their world. Do you ever wonder why your kid plays the same song over and over until you want to burn every copy of the thing? There is a good reason. It’s because they are trying to figure out a small piece of their crazed hormonal life, and that one song helps sort through the crap in their heads.
It’s the language they use to relate to the world, to you, and to the friends they are seeking and cultivating. It builds up confidence and a sense of belonging and it helps with their self-esteem.
Would you believe that a good song could help your teen feel good about themselves?
Bet You Thought it was All Just a Good Time!
Humans’ musical preferences are set by the time you’re in your early teens. So it’s no wonder you don’t hear music as your teen does. You’re thinking the hairband from 1985 is still the most amazing music you have ever heard. Or the moody Depeche Mode you sulked to as you tried to figure out if that boy from second period liked you. Or maybe, something altogether different, but I guarantee what you listened to in your teens is still your favorite music.
That’s not to say you haven’t learned to appreciate other genres and styles of music, just that you gravitate back to the beginning.
I’ll tell you that expanding my tastes to what my kids like has opened me up to some great artists I wouldn’t have explored.
Try to think back to your teens (that may be a bit harder for some of us than others). Do you remember finding that one song that just struck you in the chest and you had to hear it, a ton? It made you feel, sad or loving or wanting. I certainly do. I can see myself right now, lying on my bed lamenting the boyfriend I didn’t have or the mean girls’ comments. Because we just don’t hear music the same way we did in our teens.
Music gives your teen a break from reality. It helps reduce stress (and yes they have A LOT of stress). It’s how they seek an identity and explore themselves in a safe way. For me, the hardest part of them having their own taste in music is what it means for our relationship. It means they are pulling away and creating an identity that is complete without me in it. As much as I want that to happen it is a bitter-sweet pill to swallow.
Lucky for Us Music is Universal! How Can we Connect with our Teens?
Can we use music to relate to our teens? One hundred percent! Music is a universal language that transcends age, race, ethnicity sexual orientation. It brings people together and creates memories. So I am sure it can bridge the gap to our teens’ constantly changing minds and souls.
How? One way is to have your teen play DJ. Let them pick the music. Keep an open mind and have fun with it. Ask questions about what they like in the song or the artist. What about the lyrics moves them? Get into what makes them tick.
Don’t judge your teen’s tunes. You may not like it, but for whatever reason your teen does. If you dis their tunes they won’t want to share them with you. Take turns, song for song, you play one they play one. Talk about each other’s tastes. You might be surprised at how much you have in common. Maybe even find a new avenue of music to explore.
Try to make music a part of your everyday routines. Especially in the mundane times, like when you cook or do chores around the house. It’s an easy way to connect without words. You never know those times might be the start of something magical!
Think far off in the future when you are oldish and your teen is old too, maybe, just maybe you have helped them create a soundtrack of their life that will remind them of all the good times along with the bad, the crazy, and mundane, and hopefully at least some memories that include you.
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