I have 4 kids in my house: ages 6, 9, 11, and 13. With a new teenager in the house, I’ve been reading a lot of “parenting teens” books. Currently, I’m reading “Have a New Teenager by Friday” by Dr. Kevin Leman. What’s fascinating is Dr. Leman’s take on sullen, crabby, shut-down teens. He points out that because of fluctuating hormones, their opinions and tastes can change day by day, or moment to moment. He says that when we respond with interest in their opinions, instead of exasperation, teens open up and are more apt to share their thoughts with us. Why? This is what Dr. Leman says: “Because your teenager needs to know that somebody in the house cares enough to listen to what he says, even if what he says can sometimes be stupid and can change rapidly from week to week or hour to hour.”
Several of my friends are bemoaning that suddenly their teens want to sleep all the time, don’t want to do their schoolwork, and are forgetting simple tasks that seemed to be habits just a year ago, such as brushing their teeth or making their bed. This “slacking” can be very frustrating to parents! One friend of mine said that music lessons may be a cure: that the arts can help pull teens out of their “funk.” I completely agree!
Music can speak to kids in a way that words cannot. Music connects teens to their feelings—even if they can’t express it to you in words. Music can make them feel successful when the rest of the world seems to be caving in on them. Having a music teacher who works with them one-on-one and who is not their parent, and who values their input and opinions, and is not shocked by their opinions or moods can be therapeutic for the whole family! Many teens express to us that their lessons are the highlight of their entire week!
These teens years are hard-- let’s not slam our kids into the mold of what we think they “should” look like. We need to allow them grow and flourish at their own pace. Allow music to be their therapy—it may be the best thing to help them through these tumultuous years. Let them progress at their own pace and in their own way. Maybe practicing isn’t happening as often as you like. But if they come out of their lesson smiling, you know you have a good thing going!
Jen Hickle, Author
Since I was a little girl playing "school" in the garage with the neighbors, all I've ever wanted to do is teach. I'm passionate about passing on knowledge to other people!