A recent study reports that jamming with your kids can improve your long term relationship with them.
The Journal of Family Communication published a study, which took a sample of young adults at an American university, and asked each participant to complete a series of questions related to musical experiences with their parent, and their current parent-child relationship.
The study found that students who engaged in shared childhood musical experiences with their parents reported a stronger relationship with their parents into young adulthood.
The types of musical engagements that were tested included listening to music in the car together, talking about musical taste, attending concerts together, or jamming together with their own instruments. The students reported these shared experiences occurring throughout childhood and into adolescence. Interstingly, the participants who had shared musical experiences with their parents as adolescents showed the most impact on their current relationship with them as young adults.
As a parent with absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, this has been eye opening. From personal experience, I can’t deny the therapeutic effect of music, especially as a young teen. For me, music has always been a private and personal experience, not something I recall sharing with many people.
Studies do show that listening to music improves brain function. There is an entire branch of research called neuromusicology, which looks at the neuroscience behind music. If you play an instrument, the benefits to the brain are even greater.
It makes sense then, that sharing these experiences with someone, especially a parent, would introduce a special type of bonding on a neuro level.
When looking at my own role as a mother, and the way that I expose my children to music, I can see that sharing musical experiences does impact my relationship with my kids in a positive way.
Lately I have been downloading music to my phone to play in the car, instead of listening to the same top five songs on the radio. My kids love the soundtrack from the hit movie The Greatest Showman, and we often blast A Million Dreams or This Is Me.
We also love dancing to music together, and I’ve introduced my kids to music that was around long before they were born. My six-year-old and four-year-old instantly stand up and start dancing when they hear Bamboleo by the Gipsy Kings, or Suavemente by Elvis Crespo.
My husband plays both the acoustic and twelve-string guitar, and has enjoyed teaching our kids simple songs, like the Peg + Cat intro. We have noticed that our kids are interested in learning an instrument, and do plan to enrol them in lessons as they get a bit older.
One thing I would like to start doing as my three kids reach adolescence is bring them to concerts and musical theatre. My experiences at the theatre are ones that have stayed with me, and drew me close to my mother at a time when I was fighting to become my own individual.
Not everyone is destined to become a musical genius, but most of us appreciate music and have developed our own tastes over time. Studies confirm that when we encourage our children to broaden their musical interests, and introduce them to experiences throughout their childhood we are cementing our bond with them.
I may not be able to create a family band with my kids, but I can dance in the living room, blast the tunes in the car, and enjoy a summer concert in an open field. All of these experiences will become small moments that create a larger impact, strengthening our relationship for years to come.