As a parent, you always want your child to know that you have his or her back and that you support their hopes and dreams. Sometimes it’s easy to support your child’s interests; other times, it feels downright impossible. If your teenager decides to start up a garage band with their friends, you may be feeling a little of both. You want to support your teenager’s creativity, and you know that they are at a developmental age where doing things with their friends trumps doing things alone or with the family. However, supporting a garage band can be difficult, especially if they play loud music, music you don’t appreciate, or—unfortunately—if they’re not very good.
If your teenager’s band wants to practice in your garage or your basement or your teenager’s bedroom, it can be easy to become frustrated with the loud noises, especially if it intrudes on the rest of your family’s ability to enjoy each other’s company and concentrate on other pursuits. You don’t want to discourage your teenager, and there’s a part of you that feels blessed that they are choosing your home over other possible locations to practice, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t support them while also setting healthy boundaries for your family.
Discuss your concerns with your teenager. Explain that you support their band and that you want to provide them a practice space, but mention that you also have the rest of the family to consider and that sometimes their band’s practice gets in the way of the rest of the family’s ability to get things done. Then, come to an agreement. Maybe you set certain days of the week, or certain times of day, when it’s okay for them to practice—and other days where they need to either take time off or find a different venue.
It’s possible to support your teenager’s desire to play music—and even to acknowledge that, technically, they’re not bad at what they do—while still not liking the music they play. Unfortunately, when they look at you with eager eyes and say, “What’d you think?”, you can find yourself in a tough position.
Teenagers are old enough to tell if you’re not being honest with them, but they’re also old enough to understand nuance. You can be honest with them. Tell them, “I think you did a great job, and I can tell you practiced hard. It’s not my kind of music, but I can appreciate the work you put in and I bet your audience loved it.”
Remember back when your teenager was four or five years old and would present you with a drawing to hang on the fridge? They weren’t exactly Picasso, but you were proud of them because they were making a solid effort to learn a new skill and because they were excited. If your child is in a garage band and isn’t very good, channel that same parenting skill from back when they were five and support them anyway.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to lie to them to be supportive of their band, but you don’t have to be rude, either. Offer to pay for lessons for them so that they can improve their skills. After all, music is a worthwhile thing for them to be spending their time on, which makes it a good investment for you as well. You can also help them get better equipment. Sometimes, our teenagers don’t sound good because they’re playing on the wrong equipment, and the right equipment can make all the difference in the world. For example, singing on a poor-quality microphone can ruin even a great singer’s voice. If you suspect that might be part of their problem, help them find a better microphone by going to http://microphonegeeks.com/pro/live-microphone/.
And if they say that music is what they want to do with their life, you can tell them that you support them—but also mention that it’s important, when pursuing artistic careers, to always have a back-up plan to pay the bills until they make it.
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