Paradise and Parenting: Musical Rebellion

Apparently some rebellion is a fairly natural occurrence among adolescents. I’ve been reading up on it as my son’s hair has been transformed from a lovely dark brown to any color entirely unrelated to those found in nature. I was also wondering how much I should worry that my kids think that everything I say, do, or look at fondly is very very uncool.
From what I have read, teenaged rebellion is an attempt to define oneself. Also, one needs some healthy opposition to gather strength for the self-determination required for being a grown-up. And I think we all agree that a strong sense of self and determination are necessary for the adulting world, because being an adult isn’t even one-tenth as fun as I thought it would be when I was fifteen and had a curfew.
However, I thought that if I had children with a musician who enjoyed playing the electric guitar at mind-numbing volumes, we could avoid some of the lameness labels. I figured we would play all of our favorite eighties hair metal music (Def Leppard’s Hysteria album will never go out of style) throughout their formative years, they would grow their hair long and wear some black, and then we’d all match in family photos. Rebellion would not need to occur because their dad is a living, breathing rebel. And he’s really cool, too. Right?
I know you’re laughing now, and that’s fine. I actually came to laugh too, because I thought this was true until exactly two minutes before my son turned thirteen. Their dad is as cool as that dad wearing the white sweat socks with sandals. He’s as cool as the one who threatens to turn the car around Right Now. He’s as cool as the dad who asks his kids’ friends what a fake noodle is (an impasta). In other words, he is absolutely NOT COOL.
Do you know why? Because there are no cool dads. If they think they’re cool, they are even more uncool than the others. Those that have no idea that they should even be cool are just EVER so slightly more cool (this is my husband’s category, bless him). My husband’s musical preferences and even his career as a professional rock musician doesn’t only not save him, it condemns him. Do you know why?
Teenagers must kick the status quo so they can be their own people, and not carbon copies of their parents. This is important for not only their futures, but for the survival of the entire species. We have to evolve, guys! So Def Leppard, while always a great, great band, must make way for (give me a moment here) rap music. RAP. MUSIC.
That’s right. The Boy is fourteen and has discovered that his father, this musically open-minded human being, does not care for the stylings of Lil Peep or Lil Xan or Lil Wayne or ANY of the other Lils to be had in the rap world (there are more than several). So guess what you will find on his Spotify playlist?
So I’ve been reading up on this rebellion thing, and much of the literature points to natural consequences and repeated positive guidance. At first I felt that the natural consequences to the rap music is probably a degrading of IQ, which is not going to help with college applications, so I tended toward banning the music. Also, I embraced the repeated positive guidance (nagging), and I can tell you that it did not change the undesired behavior whatsoever.
The truth is, rap music is another form of music that parents don’t get. Because we haven’t been cool for years, and we never will be again except to one another. And that’s ok, because this is one of those things that need to happen before our children will finally become responsible, self-actualized adults.
So we’ll let them keep the playlists with all the Lils in them. And we’ll set some guidelines about song content. And we’ll grit our teeth and tell ourselves how much we’ll miss them when they’ve flown the nest. And we’ll promise ourselves a hearty, smug laugh on our grandchildren’s thirteenth birthdays.