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My wife and I listen to different music, and often argue about what our 2 year old son should listen to.

I want him to be closer to me, as I'm a musician and wish to work together with him in the future. It means he must listen to my favorite music.

On the other hand, she wants our son to like her music.

Any advice?

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    Please use comments to ask for clarification -- if you have a response, add an answer. (If you have an insult, don't share anything.) – Acire Dec 22 '16 at 13:19
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Please note that further comments not asking for clarification will be deleted; if you have an answer, please post it as such. Thanks! – anongoodnurse Dec 23 '16 at 13:53
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    At age two my two oldest sons each LOVED Seven Nation Army... They are both playing college football. It is easy to see that whatever music your son picks will determine his fate for the rest of his life :). – blankip Dec 27 '16 at 16:51

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Play all the music. See what he enjoys. Play that.

I have some bad news. Your son is quite likely to love dumb bouncy pop stuff like "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" because he's two and it's all bouncy. Or he may go nuts for the theme tune to "Batman: Brave and the Bold" or "TMNT" because they're connected to the bright picture box. Or he may just really be into both hardcore thrash metal and smooth jazz because little children are the definition of "I don't know genre, but I know what I like".

Musical tastes change over time and age. If you're lucky enough, he'll grow interested in your music because you're the one that's playing it. But even if he is into the same kind of music as you are, he may not want to work with you. Or if he isn't, he may still want to work with you, because you're his dad.

The best way for you to get him into your music is to play it to him personally. If your wife wants him into her music, she can have it on while they're doing stuff. The most enjoyable music is the stuff that links to a pleasant memory or culture. AND HE CAN BE INTO BOTH.

Bottom line, don't be a music genre snob, especially for another person. If nothing else, some of the best music comes from listening to lots of different genres and styles and finding the common themes that you enjoy, and then producing something new from it.

The days Johnny Cash completely broke us all with his cover of "Hurt", or William Shatner teamed up with Ben Folds to perform a cover of "Common People" that is better than the original, are two of the many days we should have stopped assuming that genres of music mean anything.

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    +1 for "see what he enjoys". The best way to ensure that your son will NEVER want to make music with you, is to force the idea upon him from a young age. – Erik Dec 22 '16 at 12:21
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    I have a video of my daughter at two dancing to Whiskey in the Jar (played live in the style of Metallica). A year on she's more likely to chose "Let it go", which coincidentally would be my answer to the question – Chris H Dec 22 '16 at 15:47
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    @SovereignSun Well, from your perspective as a musician, when he's loving "bad" music, treat it as an intellectual exercise. What's he liking and why doesn't it work for you? It's not wrong to not like a piece of music. But refusing to analyse why it appeals to someone and not to you is a mark of failure. – deworde Dec 23 '16 at 8:06
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    @SovereignSun Chill out. What your child listens to now is not going to matter in 10 or 20 years. When I was a child I liked music for children, when I got a little older I started enjoying other genres, mostly pop and folk. Older still, and I found myself listening to hard rock, metal, jazz, and big-band. I'm in my 50s and I have decided that what I really like is INTERESTING music, regardless of genre. I am over 50 years old, and I am still discovering new music to like. – barbecue Dec 23 '16 at 17:29
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    @SovereignSun: I get the feeling you should open a question about "how to influence a toddler/child's music preference", because you seem to be missing some information about how that works. – Erik Dec 24 '16 at 7:22
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Let him listen to whatever he wants and let him BE whoever he wants to be. Just because you would like your son to listen to certain type of music or you would like him to be a musician doesn't mean you should pressure him and manipulate him into something he may not enjoy. Show him the ropes and have him listen to your favorite music, but arguing over it is unproductive.

Do you only listen to the same music your parents did?

Maybe your son would like to be a doctor, a broker or a professor. He may even enjoy listening to death metal. If you deny his freedom to make his own choices, and deny him of his own mistakes, you will raise a very sad person to become a very sad adult.

  • Yes, i do listen to 90% of the music my father listened and listens to, cause he's also a musrake cian and made me become one and i'm glad he did. My mom also loves the same music. Unfortunately my wife hates most of what I listen to. I have very little time with my son because I work a lot and he listens only to her music, when I try to give him some of my music he doesn't want to listen to it and thay makes my almost cry. – SovereignSun Dec 23 '16 at 7:15
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    @SovereignSun Perhaps the underlying problem here is "I have very little time with my son"? – A E Dec 24 '16 at 10:36
  • @AE I indeed do have little time, unfortunately. – SovereignSun Dec 24 '16 at 12:34
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    He is two, Two year olds listen to the music their parents put on. – PStag Dec 26 '16 at 8:25
  • You should not be surprised that your son likes your wife's music more than yours if that is what he listens to the most. A lot of our aesthetic preferences are formed by familiarity, so when you play something he isn't used to, even if it is good he may not like it at first (like a kid wanting cereal instead of steak). Forcing it on him is a terrible idea (you'll only make him resent it), but you could try playing a variety of music you like until you find things he enjoys, which will help you expose him to things you think he'll like – Kevin Wells May 23 '17 at 19:37
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From my personal experience, if you want your child to enjoy the things you do, make it fun and expose them to it regularly.

My son is 4 now, but when he was younger I would sing to him every night while putting him to bed. It's probably been about a year since I've done this, our routine has changed, but earlier this week he asked me to sing to him like I used to. A few days later he is singing along with "Hallelujah" and "Cat's In The Cradle". It's pretty awesome.

So, basically, just let your kid see you enjoying your music and they will too.

Now, for arguing with your wife, consider not doing that.

If you had a standard wedding ceremony, you probably recall the "for better, for worse" line from your vows. Keep this is mind when you feel the urge to argue about music. Being there with your wife during the good times is just as important as being there for her during the bad times. I remember my parents never watching tv together, they're divorced now. Is that the reason? No. But maybe if they'd made a little more effort to enjoy things together it wouldn't have got to that point.

Also, music is a very personal thing and it's a part of you. I'm a musician myself, but I think this applies to everyone.

Criticizing your wife's taste in music is essentially criticizing her. A marriage can be hard enough without purposely creating turmoil. And just like how your kid will mimic you and enjoy what you do, he will also learn to criticize.

Making an effort to enjoy the things she does is just one way of showing love, respect and appreciation. Your child will learn the same.

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    To be honest, if you're singing Cat's in the Cradle to your son while he's still a kid, you're already doing better than the dad in that song. Oh, and all the +1's for "Criticizing your wife's taste in music is essentially criticizing her" – deworde Dec 22 '16 at 16:20
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    Probably should have just picked up a few more verses to Hallelujah. Supposedly when John Cale asked Cohen for "all the lyrics", he was faxed 15 pages of them. – T.E.D. Dec 22 '16 at 17:05
  • Haha, yes. I only memorized four verses. – Eric Dec 22 '16 at 17:22
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Your kids will get their own tastes in music no matter what you do, so it's an unproductive argument to have with a spouse. Do you listen to exactly what your parents played you? I highly doubt it. I certainly don't.

My music tastes aren't 100% what I grew up listening to my Dad play. My 3 kids all early on developed their own tastes too. For example, I can vividly remember jamming to some Public Enemy, and turning around to see my grade-school daughter repeatedly kicking the speaker (with both feet) and yelling "Shut up!" while Flav was doing his shtick. All my kids grew up to hate rap (admittedly only about 10% of my own collection).

Another example: Once when my son was a toddler Don McClean came on singing his masterpiece American Pie, and the kid was just enthralled in a way I've never seen before or since. As soon as it was over, he was repeatedly asking "Mo' Pie! Mo' Pie!". He's 21 now, and whenever this song comes on, he (usually the worst talker of the bunch) insists everyone shut up and listen.

I've also had the experience of having Iron Man come on the radio, and discovering my two toddlers in their child seats doing a great Beavis and Butthead impersonation in the back. "Duh! Duh! DuhDuhDuh!" They neither heard me do this, nor watched that old show. They came up with it entirely on their own.

There's no reason whatsoever why your kid can't be exposed to both. In general you have to listen to a lot of a certian genre to learn how to appreciate it, and to learn what the best exemplars of it are. So having parents who love different genres, and thus know enough to show their children what the very best of each of them are, is a huge gift you are able to give your children. Don't throw half of it away!

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    Your kids sound like they have awesome taste. (By which, of course, I mean tastes that apparently coincide with my own.) Props! – Kyle Strand Dec 22 '16 at 19:22
  • @KyleStrand - I will freely admit hating Flava-Flav isn't exactly a weird opinion. But the point here of course is that it isn't mine. I did my job as a parent and exposed them to the stuff I love. They are going to have their own opinions, and you can't do anything about that (but try to love them). – T.E.D. Dec 22 '16 at 19:36
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    Note that final paragraph doesn't just apply to music. It applies equally to art, movies, sports, gaming, and yes Religion. – T.E.D. Dec 22 '16 at 20:13
  • I do listen only mostly to what my father does or ever did, my mother likes to listen to the same music fortunately. My wife and I gave absolutely opposite tastes. I hate her musuc, she can't understand mine. Unfortunately my son's mistly with her and her alone. I work a lot. – SovereignSun Dec 23 '16 at 7:32
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    @SovereignSun - The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. My kids mostly picked up my music while being driven around to their activities over their first 16 years of life. You might consider trying to spend as much time with the kid in the evenings as possible. Your spouse would likely love that solution to the problem as well. – T.E.D. Dec 23 '16 at 18:43
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I agree with the rest of the answers here, largely, in that you should remember your son is a separate person, and should not go into this thinking he's going to do what you want him to do with his life.

But, that said, if your aim is for him to be a musician - you should want to give him as broad a musical experience as possible, especially at this age. Wanting him to listen to one type of music at this age alone is the wrong approach to helping him become a musician.

Many of the truly great musicians of our time have been ones who didn't just do exactly what everyone else was doing - but instead, broke the mold by doing something different, often inspired by different musical genres. Having exposure at a young age to a wide array of musical genres will lead him to a much better appreciation of music, and a better understanding of what makes music good.

It also gives a higher chance that he does get into music. Maybe your genre of music doesn't initially appeal to him. He might start liking something more like what your wife likes, and eventually grow into liking your style of music. Or he might start liking something yet different from both of you; giving him the widest array of music to listen to improves the odds he finds something he likes.

So, you should thank your wife for helping to broaden your son's musical tastes, and helping introduce him to a wider array of music. He may someday grow into the musician you hope he does because of it.

(But seriously, don't push that too hard either, if you want to have a good relationship with your son as he grows up... let it come if it does, and if it doesn't, be happy with whatever he chooses)

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    Would you agree with this part of my answer? >Bottom line, don't be a music genre snob, especially for another person. If nothing else, some of the best music comes from listening to lots of different genres and styles and finding the common themes that you enjoy, and then producing something new from it. – deworde Dec 22 '16 at 16:34
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    @deworde Absolutely - you got an upvote from me :) I just felt like this merited an answer to focus on. – Joe Dec 22 '16 at 16:36
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Warning: Some of this post is going to come across as a little harsh, but everything I say, I say because I want to help. Anything that I say bluntly, I say it that way because I think that hearing it the most straightforward way possible is the best way I can help.

Let's get some perspective here. You married a woman who doesn't share your taste in music and, presumably, love her anyway. You love your child, and you will continue to love your child even if they don't end up sharing your taste in music or even your love of music. That isn't the exact outcome you want, but it's extremely rare for parents to have children do exactly what they want.

Reading through the question and your comments here, it's clear that this is no longer about your child and has become a conflict between you and your wife with your child caught in the middle. This situation is not good for anyone, and the most likely outcome from it is damage to the relationship between all three of you. Stop and ask yourself which is worse: if your child has a mild distaste for your music or if they resent you and your music over this conflict. You need to change your goal immediately: put aside your dreams of influencing your child's musical taste and put everything into removing this conflict from your home.

Start by apologizing to your wife. Sincerely. Do not make a single excuse for your behavior. This is going to be really, really hard, but you need to do it before this escalates any further. Think of anything you've done wrong with this and tell her you're sorry for doing it (and mean it). Only you know exactly what you've done, but here are a couple things to start your list:

  • Insulting her choice of music
  • Trying to make her child dislike the music she likes (that is, trying to take away a possible bond they could form)
  • Treating your child as a means to fulfill your own desires instead of as an individual who may or may not end up sharing your interests

I'm sure there's more, but you'll need to fill in those details yourself.

Once you've apologized, your wife may or may not apologize back. It doesn't matter which happens. Remember: your goal here is to end the conflict and restore the relationships in your home, not to get your wife to admit to any wrongdoing. You have done something wrong here, and even though your wife probably has, too, your own actions disqualify you from making an issue of anything she's done. (Note that "making an issue" of your spouse's wrongs is generally not an appropriate or effective way of solving problems even when you haven't done anything wrong.) You need to completely and unconditionally forgive her to accomplish the goal, and that means not trying to leverage anything she's done wrong against her.

Once you've apologized, now you can discuss the root cause of your actions and what to do from here with her. You may need to do some soul searching to figure out why it's so important to you that your child shares your taste in music. But regardless, talk with her about it, and maybe you two can come to an agreement about how you can both share your music with your child.

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    +1 If each parent insists the child must listen exclusively to that parent's preferred type of music, to the exclusion of their partner's, this does sound like a hostile-relationship-between-parents issue. – A E Dec 24 '16 at 10:40
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    @SovereignSun "But we don't have any conflict." If that were true, you wouldn't be asking this question because you would both have already agreed on what to do. Even if you're not having brutal arguments, you clearly have a big conflict. I really mean this: you need to stop this and decide that your relationships with your family members is more important than what music your child likes. If you don't, this is only going to end badly. I do not say any of that lightly. – jpmc26 Dec 25 '16 at 8:54
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    @SovereignSun you are admitting: that music made you "become distant" with your father; that particular scar never healed; it prevented you to openly discuss tastes with your wife and particularly her taste; you are already worried that this will deeply affect your relationship with your son... Then the real problem is not music itself: place yourself in the perspective of your father, of your wife or any other human being, and realize that their taste reflects their environment, their experiences and their growth, which are all unique. Accept and embrace that and you will solve this problem. – CPHPython Dec 26 '16 at 14:58
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    @SovereignSun "I can't just start loving their music..." - you don't need to. You need to accept that other people can have musical taste which differs from yours without that making their taste inferior to yours (they can still be "clever and have good taste" even if their taste doesn't match your taste), and without that difference making them unworthy of your love or pride. Sadly your own father wasn't able to do that if he "wouldn't even talk to [you]" unless your taste conformed with his. Sounds like it's all about control to me, but clearly some issues here that need exploring. – A E Dec 26 '16 at 19:49
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    @SovereignSun I agree with everything AE and CPHPython have said here. It sounds like you're getting to the root of the problem. I think my advice still stands; apologizing to your wife and discussing these problems with her is still a good way to address this. But understand that you are going to have to rethink your position. It's going to be hard to put aside your feelings about music, but if you work at it, you're going to make yourself and your family stronger. And in the process, you might find that your child has an easier time loving your style of music because you didn't force it. – jpmc26 Dec 26 '16 at 20:47
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I didn't really develop any music tastes until I was at least 16, and even then it was mostly things that were related to things I liked (video games, internet culture, ect).

Your son is two years old, and the fact that he has any music taste at all is remarkable.

People change over time - what your son likes today may drastically change as he grows older. Given time, and exposure to some of the music you like, he might grow to like it more.

Or not - and that wouldn't be the end of the world. It's good to bond with your son over a common interest, but if you try to force that interest on him when he clearly isn't interested, it's something that can build resentment over time.

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This may sound rude, but you should do the opposite of what you're trying to do. Force them to listen to all the "horrid" music, and make them prize their opportunities to listen to the good stuff!

What I have found over the years (mostly second hand, but I'm starting to pick it up in my own child), is that the single best way to guarantee that a child hates something is to force them into it when they want something else. You will find the effect is the exact opposite of what you want. They will associate that thing with not getting what they want, instead of appreciating it.

From your comments, you sound like you have a very particular taste in music. You have very particular and cultured tastes. Those take time to grow. You wouldn't start a first-time violinist at the age of 4 on Bach's Praeludium from Partita No. 3 in EM just because you want them to be an all-state violinist and that song is recommended audition material, would you? No, you start them on twinkle-twinkle little star or Mary Had a Little Lamb, and you grin and bear it through the 400 repetitions they're going to have to go through! If you are a 5-star chef, do you feed your child fois gras or caviar first? No! You start them on peas and carrots! Why would one demand that their child start listening to music (which is a skill to be developed) on only the most cultivated content!

The taste for the fine things in life must be given a chance to develop. It cannot be forced on them early on in life.

Now the real way to get him to like your music is to listen to it yourself and give him the opportunity to listen with him. There will be times in your time with him where he wants to imitate daddy. At those points, he will suddenly appear to utterly love whatever you are doing at that time. If you're listening to "good" music, he'll decide he needs to start appreciating that good music.

And, along the way, try to find the goodness in other music besides your particular genre. Remember that a child's taste is not all that refined. They're happy to alternate back and forth between V and I for 5 minutes straight without a single bit of flavor put in between. Then they giggle and go play with some toys. Try to picture the music your wife wants him to listen to with ears of a child. I am 100% certain that you will find the same roots of music in her music as you will in yours. After all, it's all made from instruments! The fundamentals of dubstep are, believe it or not, the same as the fundamentals of fine orchestral classical music! Even rap is based on the same fundamentals. (Disclaimer: I pick on rap only because it's a style that I personally have trouble appreciating, so its my test case for whether I am taking a taste of my own medicine)

As the child learns more of music, then they will decide what music they like. The best you can do is keep offering (but not forcing) until they decide in your favor.

  • I disagree. I started playing guitar when I was 17 and the first to ng my father had me learn was Wish you were here. And i didn't know chords at all. I could play it only after a week of practing. That's the way he was taught music by his teacher. – SovereignSun Dec 24 '16 at 6:06
  • Unfortunately I can't listen to my music while mommy is at home. She wouldn't allow me. – SovereignSun Dec 24 '16 at 6:08
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    @SovereignSun So that sounds less like a parenting question and more of a relationship question. If you believe that this music is so ungodly important to you that you can't imagine your child not growing up to play it in exactly the same way your father taught you (and no other music is worth listening to), and your wife hates the music so much she won't even allow it in the house while she's around, that seems like a pretty substantial detail to work through between the two of you. The issue of what the kid listens to will be important, but I'd point at that relationship issue as being – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Dec 24 '16 at 17:11
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    the issue you two need to work out first. I would expect the solution to what your child listens to will fall out naturally from whatever resolution the two of you reach. – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Dec 24 '16 at 17:11
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In one of your comments you wrote:

Unfortunately my wife hates most of what I listen to. I have very little time with my son because I work a lot and he listens only to her music, when I try to give him some of my music he doesn't want to listen to it and that makes my almost cry.

And another commenter suggested that perhaps the underlying problem is that you spend too little time with your son. I think that indeed you need to solve that problem first, long before you even think about what music your son should listen to! Ultimately you have to decide what is the best balance in time and energy spent on your son and on your work. If you can even put aside an hour a day to play with your son whatever games he likes best, or do things that he wants for him or with him, it is worth far more than any music.

Secondly, your son is not you, and his preferences are his own. You should not insist that he adopts your preferences, nor should you take it personally when he rejects your preferences. The exceptions to this are when it comes to danger of harm. For example, you have the right (even the responsibility) to enforce a rule of "no playing with fire/knives", for this reason. However, unless you can justify that your son will be harmed or cause harm to others by not listening to your music, you do not have the right to insist that he listens to it. But you can always offer it to him now and then. Children are usually curious to try things, but they have their own individuality, which we need to respect.

Also, I fully agree with jpmc26's answer that you also have to solve the relationship problem with your wife. The disagreement over music is merely one surface issue arising from that problem, and what I said above pertains only to your relationship with your son.

Aim for harmony in your family so that you can enjoy being with one another, and try to resolve any discord through understanding and tolerance. And do not wait till later to improve your relationships; your son will not benefit from seeing you two argue, not to say over what he should listen to!

  • The thing is that me and my wife have different tastes in almost everything we are absolutely oopposite. Unfortuantely we can't change. I can't, she can't. Our son on the other hand is someone we both adore and live for. I always try to spend the evening with him, unfortunately I work from 9am 'till 6pm and it takes me 2 hours to get to work and 2 hours to get back home. So I have maximum 1-2 hours to be with my son, except for Saturday and Sunday that I spend with him. The only way I try to give him the music I love is via headphones on weekends. Such life is really difficult. – SovereignSun Dec 26 '16 at 8:08
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    And you know what? For those who say that being a father is simple and easy - no, it's very difficult, it is terribly hard! I have no idea what it is like to be a mother (I'm not a woman after all) but being daddy is a tough job! – SovereignSun Dec 26 '16 at 8:10
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    @SovereignSun: In case it was not clear, I never intended to imply that being a father is easy. On the contrary, I'm trying to convey that it will require a significant investment, and one may have to give up other activities if one wants to give one's children a good childhood. That is every parent's decision and responsibility. Moreover, you should never attempt to pull your son over to your tastes! That is precisely what I emphasized in my answer; spend the time with him doing what he likes, not what you like. It is time for him, not for you! – user21820 Dec 27 '16 at 8:53
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    @SovereignSun: And your problem with your wife must be solved as well, though if you take my advice regarding how you spend time with your son then it should help with that too. Never let your son become the rope in a tug-of-war with your wife for attention. If she pulls him to her music, let her! Sure, it will hurt at first, but always remember that he is not a product but a person just like you, and learn to treasure him as a completely unique individual. Then you will surely be an excellent father. – user21820 Dec 27 '16 at 9:00
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From your comment:

[my son is] just like me... when I tried to listen to metal,, that I really don't much like... my father wouldn't even talk to me, we became so distant until the time I started listening to good jazz music, but still he wasn't much proud of me. Now I feel the same way, though my son's yet a little kid, but i want to him to be as good as me as my father... to be clever and have good taste

It seems to me that your dad didn't deal with that situation well, and you are doing the classic thing of carrying the same emotional baggage along one generation and creating the same problems with your relationship with your child. (Incidentally, in the absence of other information, I'd imagine that your growing apart may have been mostly due to other factors - but even if you felt that it's music that was the cause, that's bound to have had an effect on your feelings about music).

I was initially suspicious, to be honest, that this may be a troll thread, as the majority of musicians I've met have understood that de gustibus non est disputandum - literally, that things that are matters of taste are not things to have arguments about.

If that's not the case, I'd honestly suggest getting some help, or at least doing some serious soul searching about why you have the hang-ups you do about music that seem to be distorting both your emotional and intellectual response to the world.

EDIT - I realise we've met before from this question over at music.SE. That makes me think it's less likely that it's a troll thread, but it also shows that despite your love of music, the musical path you have chosen has led to some frustration - so why try to take your son down a musical path that has worked out less than optimally for you?

  • I didn't understand the last part of your answer. I'm not trying to copy my father's way, but I think in most cases he did it right... Fortunately, I grew up being an amazing person with great tastes as many tell me and with a good understanding between bad and good, right and wrong! – SovereignSun Dec 26 '16 at 15:01
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    It is indeed an emotional/intellectual distortion originating in the relationship with his father that affected his entire life, coming back to haunt him even harder through his parenting experience. The fact that his child needs to have a "good taste" is only imposing more restrictions in his entire family's free will and can only lead to more emotional baggage, hardships and conflicts. I would add that acceptance is the key for easing his "tough job" as a parent and musical suggestions are better performed when the mind is clear and at peace. – CPHPython Dec 26 '16 at 15:21
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    @SovereignSun You don't have (objectively) great taste. You simply have your taste. By "distorted intellectual response" I'm just repeating what others have already said: that you love the music you love so much that you seem have lost the ability to understand the difference between 'subjective' and 'objective'. – user24450 Dec 26 '16 at 16:30
  • @SovereignSun "I think in most cases he did it right": You said yourself that he shunned you and was emotionally distant from you because you didn't she his taste in music, which is such a horrible parenting strategy that it is hard to express. "I grew up being an amazing person with great tastes": Humble too – Kevin Wells May 23 '17 at 19:46

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