The Importance Of Sex, Drugs And Rock 'N' Roll For Children

One of my daughter’s friends was recently banned from listening to Morgan Evan’s 'Day Drunk.'

I suppose her mother thought it glorified excessive drinking (well, it does) and was therefore NOT appropriate for 12-year-old ears.

Sure, I get that.

There are plenty of things I try to shield my children from (imported vegetables, religion, Cory Bernardi, Santa …) but I think songs can be incredibly useful when it comes to parenting.

Kids can smell a lecture from miles away; if you want to bring up a serious topic in a non-serious way, try using music and lyrics.

Here are my favourite conversation starters:

1. Tom Walker -- Leave a Light On

Playing this song is a good way to initiate a chat about the trials of addiction and the importance of empathy.

Me: Leaving a light on is a metaphor, see? Tom Walker’s going to be there for his drug-addicted friends.

Kid: What kind of drugs are they addicted to?

Me: I don’t know. Cocaine?

Kid: Whizz Fizz looks like cocaine, you know.

Me: Probably don’t mention that at show ‘n’ tell tomorrow.

2. Beyoncé -- Hold Up

This track is useful if you want to explain the concept of jealousy.

But if your kids ever see you going through your partner’s phone, you maybe shouldn’t justify this behaviour by saying, “I don’t wanna lose my pride, but I’ma fuck me up a bitch.”

Only Bey can get away with that.

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3. The Peep Tempel -- Neuroplasticity

Perfect for high-brow discussions about global warming, anxiety, evolution, and how brains can be reprogrammed. And more catchy than New Scientist magazine.

4. Kaiser Chiefs -- Never Miss a Beat

Perfect for low-brow discussions about wagging school and eating crisps for tea.

HOWEVER: your children might start wagging school and demanding crisps for tea -- if this happens, you can always play them.

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5. Lily Allen -- Alfie

To make them afraid of apathy (and marijuana).

6. Paul Kelly -- How to Make Gravy

You can kill two birds with this one. Start with a conversation about the realities of prison, and end with a cooking lesson.

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7. Mika -- Grace Kelly

Me: This song is all about self-acceptance, societal expectations, and not changing for anyone. You know, just being what you want to be.

Kid: I want to be a footballer!

Me: No.

8. Taylor Swift -- Shake it Off

For teaching resilience, of course.  If Tay Tay can ignore the haters, so can your children.

Unless you’re more of a “harden the fuck up” kind of parent, in which case you might rather play them.

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9. Frenzal Rhomb -- Punch in the Face

Self-depreciation is important, after all.

10. Groove Armada -- I See You Baby

Okay, maybe you don’t want your kids singing “I see you baby, shakin’ that ass”, but “Alright, don’t touch me” is the crucial part here -- a succinct way to explain consent.

(It’s also a handy phrase for any hassled parent. I use it when I just want to sit down and have a cup of coffee without anyone climbing on me.)

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11. The Hives -- Hate to Say I Told You So

I don’t really know what this song is about, but you can definitely use the line “Do what I please, gonna spread the disease,” to promote sexual health awareness.

I guess it’s hard for songwriters to find words that rhyme with chlamydia.

12. AC/DC -- The Jack

See above. (Bonus sub-issue: gambling.)

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13. Norma Tanega -- You’re Dead

If your children own goldfish or guinea pigs, they’re probably already familiar with the concept of death.

If not, this 1966 folk song is a gentle reminder that life is not eternal so make the most of it.

Also -- the perfect tune to play if you have to hold a guinea pig funeral in your backyard.

14. Kanye West -- Gold Digger

Sure, Kanye has some questionable ideas and beliefs, but this catchy melody (thank-you, Ray Charles) is handy if you want to have a chat about racism, slavery, civil rights and derogatory terms.

Just make sure you remind your kids to never actually sing the chorus. Not at school, anyway. Or in the supermarket. Or the library.

The Presets -- Martini

Just joking -- there are no life lessons in this song.

But I play it to my children in the hope that they will one day make me a nice James Bond–style cocktail.

Don’t tell my daughter’s friend’s mother, though, or she’ll dob me in to social services.