Please Help Me Create The Perfect Playlist For Our Teenage Daughters
Parenting is hard. But thinking back I think we might be able to make the case that being a teenage girl is harder.
According to teenhelp.com, 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood. 30% of the teens with depression will also develop a substance abuse problem. And the saddest part to me is that untreated depression in teens is the number one cause of suicide and third leading cause of death among teenagers.
My daughter is 15. Her high school experience is taking place in a world where social media is center. I can't pretend to understand what that is like for her as it relates to this ever evolving quasi reality. As a parent I've struggled for years with the balance between sheltering her from what I see as the potential horrors of the world of the online unknown, and the simple fact that this is what life around us has become.
It's interesting though....this whole social media dynamic. I find that even while I fear such activities as my child being bullied online, or perhaps unknowingly solicited by an older man posing as a young girl in a chat room, or maybe exposure to pornography or some other evil along the spectrum of other inappropriate material that somehow still might make its way through my parental filters, I've learned from watching her interact with it that it's not all bad. In fact, she gleans a lot of positive, educational, and often quite humorous material that has contributed to sculpting of the young adult evolving in front of me.
My hope as a parent is that I do all I can do to empower her to lead a happy, independent, and fulfilling life of her own as she makes her way out in to this world.
Rachel Platten - Fight Song
The Script - Hall of Fame ft. will.i.am
Sara Bareilles - Brave
One year ago my daughter made the decision to go try life at her father's house. Prior to the decision I had raised her for 14 years with a minimal presence from him. She and I had a pretty amazing adventure in those 14 years. We have gone from rags to comfortable middle class. Our life grew together since the time of her early childhood bed and bath routines to shopping outings to vacations of a lifetime along the gulf coast of Florida. I tried to balance working multiple jobs and my own pursuit of higher education without robbing her of a 'full' family experience; like making sure the house was always decorated to it's fullest for holidays and making the standard two dozen cupcakes for every occasion, despite the fact the there was usually only two of us to eat them. Unfortunately, however, around the time she hit age 12, we began to have some serious power struggles. I don't think our situation is much different than any other single parent household during these ages. Fortunately for us, our family had the choice of something that has turned out to be a great option for her by her going to live with her father.
My inspiration for this whole topic is that my beautiful flourishing teenage daughter is now living another state away from me during this critical phase of her life. She lives in a tiny remote location in the mid-west where they barely have any cell phone coverage. She transferred from a high school of 1900+ students to a high school with 107 students. For gym class, one of her first assignments in her new home was to "go run a few laps around the entire town." She went from competing her heart out for one of a few coveted spots and minimal play time on a ridiculously overpriced private club volleyball team, to practically being begged to play every sport offered by her new school just so they would have enough kids to make a team. She LOVES her new life!
As happy as I am for her new found happiness, though, I still worry. She still has the same teenage struggles they all do, and we all did. She still has to deal with mean girls, rude boys, homework challenges, girl problems, and those irksome hormones we all have no choice but to deal with. The ache in my heart comes from the fear of her ever feeling like she's facing these problems alone.
So here is one of my solutions.
One of the most positive elements of the fabric of our lives is the music that we share. I have incorporated music into her upbringing since the beginning. Her nursery was filled with classical Disney tunes and Pachelbel. Her toddler years bopped along to Veggie Tales soundtracks. She won a 5th grade 'name that tune', contest for being the first to correctly identify Frank Sinatra's New York New York in a single note. (Which may in fact be my proudest parent moment - ever!) Several years ago she was given a recycled ipod from a family member. Any time someone asks for a gift idea, I always suggest an iTunes gift card for her.
What is great about music for the purpose I am using it here is that somewhere in this world a musical genius has perfected a message I want to send to my daughter. Their artistry speaks to her in a way that inspires her choices. I want to pause here to send the biggest thank you to the musicians, artists, songwriters, managers, producers, and everyone in the music industry that packages these messages in a way that has enhanced my ability to raise my child.
While her decision has put a physical distance between us, it is with the help of the foundation we built, our continued conversations and precious time together, and the memories and love that comprise the spirit of our relationship that keep our bond strong.
I know our prayers help as well :)
Lady Antebellum - Compass
Britt Nicole - Gold
Lady Gaga - Born This Way
I've started to compile a list of positive and encouraging songs that I hope she continues to find strength in during the times I am not there. Our list comes from our life and our experiences together and I want it to become even more powerful for her.
This is where you come in.
The list I've put together for my daughter is only a product of what we know in this world. I love every song on this list.
But I think it can be better.
I recognize that there is so much music out there that I've never been exposed to. I'm sure there are even more great messages out there in genres that I don't routinely listen to, and I'm hoping you will share them with me so that I can share them with her.
Let's be clear about what I'm not looking for. I'm not looking for breakup songs, revenge songs, heartbreak songs, or really anything that involves negativity. Hopefully you can identify a theme in the songs I have chosen. These songs are inspiring! When my daughter sings these songs I want them to serve as exercise for her soul, building up a strong and healthy young lady. I also want her to feel led by these songs, encouraged not just by me because I've chosen them for her, but by the world that created them for her as well.
I find it absolutely devastating to read the news stories of teen issues every day that drive our kids to hurt or kill themselves or each other. After the overwhelming ache wears off I realize that I can only help the issue by starting at home by loving and nurturing my own children.
I know the messages in this kind of music helps in my home. I hope it helps in yours too.