I breached into fatherhood as someone who was incredibly proficient at worrying about one person: Me. But, as a father everything you worried about today with your children will seem so forgettable in 12 months time. Your kids won’t remember everything – but if you’re lucky… you just never know what they won’t forget!
Growing up, my family thrived on music. It peppered every aspect of my growing years. Since then, what was on offer musically outside our family home, fell way short and you really had to dig for any sort of sustenance. Maybe it’s what comes with age, but I’ve always thought that if popular music was a diet, I would be very malnourished and begging for more. So listening to Elvis was like a hearty nourishing meal, that could sustain you for days. Beiber on the other hand, is a sugary hit that leaves you feeling depleted and despondent… a bit like an addict on crack.
For most of my life and especially BC (Before Children) the rebel in me got by, by reigning every day with such impunity and disregard for convention or care in the world. This rebellion diminished a little over recent years… (well, sort of…not really). My children listening to anything mainstream, would’ve been like an ice-cube’s chance in hell! Needless to say, when it came to parenting, nothing I ever did with them was conventional, especially when it came to what was on offer musically and for their listening pleasure.
When you are born into your parents world, the passing of the torch from father to son (and daughter) and making musical experiences memorable in their lives, was paramount for me. Being the son of a musician-singer-songwriter and later, product designer, I had every intention of passing down my passion for music and creativity to my children.
Outlawing anything that was mainstream by the time my son was born, clearly meant Seseme Street and ABC Kids didn’t get a look in. When my children’s friends were listening to the Wiggles or watching Playschool… they were listening to Johnny Cash, TEX Perkins & The Cruel Sea. When their friends were listening to a very young Justin Bieber, my kids were listening to Elvis (his ‘74 comeback tour)… I figured I’d much rather see my son sporting a white studded jumpsuit than a Justin Bieber combover. Back then, I wondered whether any of my influence would rub off on them… That day came when my then 15 year old son, Marcus, informed me that “…Spotify is do this thing, where they give you a musical age based on your listening habits over the last 12 months”… I said “…Oh yeah?!… So, how old are you?” Unflinching and unfazed, he replied: “Dad I’m 63”. With a lump in my throat, I had to take a moment, and said “Son…. I’m so proud to be your Dad!”
During my 8 years as a stay-at-home-dad, I decided I wasn’t going to live feeling like I was second-guessing or failing my kids in some way – I was determined not to overthink things. I was going to keep this shit simple.
Here’s the thing about parenting, once you have food, water and shelter sorted, the most important thing for any child regardless of age, is to feel unconditional love… that they know we believe in them, support them, trust them, and acknowledge them as individuals… separate from us. So regardless of whether you’re into Bieber or vibing Elvis, seeing your children loving what they do, sharing their gifts, making a difference and impacting this world… hopefully, for the better, surely must be every parents dream.