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Songs for children on the path to maturity

  • 05 December 2017


As December progresses and work dawdles towards holidays, I look to exhale stress and breathe in hope. For precious days I'll get to spend more time with my wife and kids.

2017 has seen us stirring a large pot of sticky issues, discussing life with our 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son. Old-school parenting used to play nice, with no discussion of sexuality, religion or politics. While recognising the need to speak appropriately to the ages and maturity of our kids, I disagree with that convention.

This world is the one they will inherit. Of necessity, they're going to pick up the slack from our many and varied stuff-ups. I continue to hope that the most valuable gift they receive will be the encouragement to think and feel, and to look beyond the representation of truths.

Any parent can tell you that kids are keen observers. They know when a double standard is applied, when an official stance is unjust, and when the shite is liberally applied to distract from dissent and fertilise compliance. A growing awareness of the ethical pros and cons of our country and our world is healthy, if it does not overwhelm them.

I look at my children's responses to injustice, and despair at the jeers and apathy that will greet younger Australians as they mature and choose to raise their hands, calling for a fair go.

But rather than bleat political policies or biblical tropes at them, our conversations tend to circle through songs, especially their lyrics. The songwriter's art carries truths greater than I can find elsewhere. Rather than fret over situations and threats we can't assuage, our coping framework looks to frets and chords, scales and arpeggios, lyrics and cantabile laments.

My hopeful lessons to our children follow.


"Cracking open artful discourse, looking for kernels of truth and moral discernment. It's one way that we can nurture our children along the path to ethical, emotional and spiritual maturity."


Share the load. As Bob Dylan noted, 'Everybody will help you discover what you set out to find, but if I can save you any time, come on, give it to me, I'll keep it with mine.'

Avoid living as your own echo chamber. We can pick our battles. Youth's angry young man, who's 'proud of his scars and the battles he's lost' and 'struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross', as per Billy Joel, needs to learn to let go. To laugh, cry and let