Deciphering Dad: What Musical Tastes Say About His Parenting

by ParentCo. June 09, 2017

dancing people

True: Nature, nurture, and personal experience play a tremendous role in shaping how dads ultimately parent their children. But let’s not forget about music. That’s right, music. From rock to rap to folk to country and everything in between, what you listen to influences a lot more than how you wear your hair, what you think about authority, and whether you view weed as an evil gateway drug or an invaluable prism through which to view this crazy and complicated world. Music ultimately affects how you raise your kids. Whatever your preference, it’s always good to share your love of music with your children. Okay, almost always: There’s a lot of new research out there suggesting the earlier children are exposed to EDM, the greater the chances they grow up to become assholes or, worse, DJs. But hey, as long as you’re not listening to a computer game masquerading as an art form, then expose away. And the earlier the better. Is your spouse expecting? Strap some BellyBuds onto to her growing midsection and introduce the little guy or gal to the wonderful world of music in utero.

Hip Hop Dad

Mid-90s through early 2000s

WavHello dad's music choice and parenting, father's day, hip hop dad

Hip Hop Dad is a passionate parent as well as a strict disciplinarian, who practices tough love on his children, for good reason. (Of course, it’s because he only wants the best for them.) He has the unique perspective of coming up during a time when Hip Hop was both finally getting the widespread acclaim and recognition it desperately deserved and also starting its slow descent into the era of commercial garbage much of the industry is currently mired in. Hip Hop Dad constantly struggles to understand his children and what they listen to, what they wear, and how they use technology.

The famous 2008 beef between Ice-T and Soulja Boy perfectly illustrates the relationship Hip Hop Dad has with his children. When Ice, the original gangsta, called out the DeAndre Cortez Way, a.k.a. Soulja Boy, he did it out of love. Like Hip Hop Dad – who sees the limitless potential of his children wasted on selfies, texting, and an aversion to outdoor activity and natural sunlight – Ice felt Soulja had far more to offer the Hip Hop World than a silly Superman song and a stupid dance that became so popular even middle-aged office workers knew how to do it. Soulja – like Hip-Hop Dad’s children – was forced to defend his choices and chastise Ice for not taking the time to understand the next generation. Hip Hop Dad and his kids have these arguments all the time and, like Ice and Souja, the anger eventually subsides and Hip Hop Dad goes back to whatever his version of safe is (“Law & Order: SVU” and Geico commercials).

Parent Co. partnered with WavHello because they believe in giving dad a fair shot at influencing his baby’s musical tastes.

Pop Punk Dad, a.k.a. Emo Dad

Early to mid-2000s

Dad music through the decades, Emo, Fall out boy

Dudes who fell in love with bands like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, and Dashboard Confessional tend to be overly sensitive and emotional – and their parenting reflects that. Ninety-seven percent of Emo Dads are helicopter parents. Its not unusual for Emo Dad to burst into tears if his kid skins her knee. Huge proponents of Braxton-Hicks Neo-Extreme Attachment Parenting (recreating womb-like conditions for a child until at least the age of 11), Emo Dad will require no less than 13 hugs and kisses from his children before setting them free to board the school bus in the morning. After the kids leave, Emo Dad will often drive around his cul-de-sac blasting Saves the Days breakthrough album, chain-smoking cloves, and weeping uncontrollably (79 percent of Emo Dads are unemployed). When he has too much to drink, Emo Dad may show up at his ex-girlfriends house (same girl whose initials he carved into his forearm with his PopPops swiss army knife) with a vintage boombox a la John Cusack in “Say Anything”, only to be chased off by his former flames Financial Advisor husband.

Grunge Dad

Early to mid-90s

The brooding brilliance and angst of Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, and Eddie Vedder left an indelible mark on Grunge Dad and ultimately carried over into his parenting style. Grunge Dad still thinks angst and flannels are cool (the $5 thrift store ones, not the $175 J-Crew ones). From age two on, Grunge Dad bombards his children with troubling stories about climate change, political corruption, inequality, the cautionary tale of Moby, and other horrifying realities of this cold, cold world. Like his constant attempts to get his kids to watch Nirvanas legendary “MTV Unplugged” performance, his kids will often ignore his warnings. Living a calm life in the suburbs with a beautiful family (the opposite of his Grunge idols) makes it challenging for Grunge Dad to find an outlet for his contrived anger. But its a challenge hes willing to meet head-on. Grunge Dad will tackle the mundane injustices of suburban living with the same veracity Pearl Jam used to take on TicketMaster in the mid-90s. Whether its a ridiculous ordinance from the fascist homeowners association (Why do all the townhouses have to have beige doors? Answer me, goddammit!) or the need for a left turn signal at a busy intersection, Grunge Dad will fight with every fiber of his being. Its not uncommon for a Grunge Dad to end an impassioned plea to the school board by quoting a Grunge Legends lyrics such as “All and all is all we are,” or “Im a man in a box/buried in my shit/wont you come and save me.”

Punk Rock Dad

Mid-70s to early 80s

Dad music through the decades, punk rock, Dead Kennedys Punk Rock is more than a style of music. It’s a culture, a way of life. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Punk Rock Dad’s musical life directly spills over into his child-rearing. Loud, passionate, aggressive, and insanely dedicated, Punk Rock Dad jumps into parenting with the same abandon as he enters a frenzied mosh pit. Punk Rock Dad wants his kids to experience life, warts and all. He often enjoys inducting his children into adrenaline-boosting activities, like bungee jumping, dirt bike racing, and organized protests. Punk Rock Dad will often use his aversion to stupid rules to help his kids – e.g., sneaking a child who doesn’t quite reach the “must be this tall to ride” mark onto the new heart-stopping roller coaster. Even with children, Punk Rock Dad still has authority issues. It’s not uncommon to see him take a swing at a Little League umpire for making a bad call against his son.

Disco Dad

70s to early 80s

Dad music through the decades, disco, The Bee Gees Like the mindless, coke-fueled dance music they love, Disco Dads are vapid, self-obsessed meatheads, who raised their children to be the same way. Although they’re wildly misguided, Disco Dads are extremely loyal to their sons and daughters. They go out of their way to stress the importance of looks and appearances. Having children didn’t stop Disco Dad from living his hedonistic lifestyle. Often, his kids would excitedly rush into their parents’ bedroom only to find a different woman in Mom’s spot – a side-effect of the wildly popular key parties of that time period. Luckily, the majority of Disco Dad children rebelled against their fathers’ narcissistic style of life and opted for a different path. As a result, some of the more introspective music – including the Grunge movement – of the 90s was born.

Classic Rock Dad

Mid-60s to mid-70s

Dad music through the decades, classic rock, Led Zeppelin These fathers were lucky enough to come of age during what is arguably the best time in the history of music. From the British Invasion of the Beatles, the Stones, and the Who to the genius of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to the raw power of Led Zeppelin and the Doors, Classic Rock Dads experienced it all – and they’re quick to tell you all about how amazing it was. “We’ve heard the Woodstock story a thousand times, Dad” is a universal gripe of Classic Rock Dad’s children. Classic Rock Dad is the type of hands-on parent so obsessed with reclaiming his youth that his own children have to sheepishly explain, “Sorry, Dad, it’s kinda just for kids this time.” Always looking to appear cool, Classic Rock Dad is quick to “spark up a doobie” with his own kids only to regret the decision later. For Classic Rock Dad, music is serious business. He goes out of his way to instill the power of music in his children. Classic Rock Dad is responsible for convincing an entirely new generation to give a listen to the treasures of Paul, John, George, and Ringo, Mick and Keith, Roger and Pete, Jimmi, Janis, and Jim, Page and Plant, Clapton, and so many others. The result of Classic Rock Dads’ collective efforts: A resurgence of palatable modern rock music in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Jazz Dad

Late 50s and early 60s

Dad music through the decades, Jazz, Miles Davis

Thanks to the influence of greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Ella Fitzgerald, Jazz Dads are generally accepted as the coolest of all dads. They tend to pull off looks that no other dad demographic would ever be able to get away with: scarfs in summer, a non-douchey-looking fedora, and tinted glasses. Children are mesmerized by the aura of Jazz Dad and almost always go out of their way to behave and impress him. For his part, Jazz Dad is an exceptionally patient parent. He’s big on instilling the virtues of creativity and exploration in his kids and, in the spirit of the music he adores, will often turn a well-known bedtime story into a free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness adventure. While Jazz Dad is a huge supporter of the arts, he often becomes testy about the “bullshit” his kids are learning in music class. An unfortunate offshoot of Jazz Dad is Modern Jazz Dad (the subgenre of jazz that really took hold in the 80s). Modern Jazz Dad worships embarrassing icons like Kenny G., wears silly knitted vests, and often opts for wearing his hair in a ponytail despite severely thinning hair.

Rock and Roll Dad

The ‘rebel’ sound of the 50s

Dad music through the decades, rock n roll, Chuck berry Rock and Roll Dads – not to be confused with Rock Dads or Hard Rock Dads – are a conflicted lot. Their parenting style reflects a sad confusion and latent self-hatred. On one hand, Rock and Roll Dads see themselves as rebels. When Cleveland DJ Alan Freed coined the term Rock and Roll, it was instantly embraced by a generation of confused, mostly white teenagers, who were desperate to distance themselves from their “square” parents’ authoritarian ways. Only later, did these rebels discover the truth about their Rock and Roll idols: They stole the sound from superior black musicians and, through slimy A&R men, left those superior musicians destitute and penniless. Rock and Roll Dad is constantly trying to reconcile these unforgivable offenses, which leave his kids attempting to navigate a childhood of confusing messages, e.g. “Stick it to the man, son” or “You really need to get more black friends, Jason. The result of Rock and Roll Dads’ breeding: A brooding, Prozac-fueled demographic the rest of the world refers to as Generation X. Thanks a lot, Rock and Roll Dads!

Crooner Dad

Came of age in the 40s, and some annoying Millennials

Dad music through the decades, Crooner, Frank Sinatra The Crooner movement emerged in the late 40s after the decline of the swing, jazz, and big band music, which dominated the early part of that decade. From Frank Sinatra to Dean Martin to Perry Como, crooners were powerful both vocally and personally. Dads who grew up on Frank, Dean, or Perry tended to be the strong, silent type, who enjoyed a stiff drink at the end of a long day and could do “manly things,” like change a flat or unclog a toilet without a plunger. Crooner Dad typically entered into parenthood by downing a fifth of whiskey and chain smoking Pall Malls, while his wife labored away in an unsanitized hotel room. Crooner Dad was tough, but fair. Whether a skinned knee or a right proper beating at the hands of Patsy Carmichael, Crooner Dad was likely to tell his kids to walk it off. Even if your Crooner Dad never actually said “I love you,” somehow you just knew it.

Parent Co. partnered with WavHello because they believe in giving dad a fair shot at influencing his baby’s musical tastes.



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