listening for dads

Great Listening for Dads

Sometimes dad life can be a constant barrage of clamor! It can mean yelling kids, laughing kids, crying kids, blaring devices, televisions, game cubes, traffic noise, work, disagreements, interruptions, and more. Then we add more via radios, earphones, computers, Bluetooth, games, podcasts. The soundtrack of life is chaotic sometimes, and we don’t have a chance to think. I’ve discovered I can do a lot to cultivate a positive frame of mind via what I listen to: car rides, walks with the dog, background noise in my office, time with the kids. It runs the gamut, from looking at lyrics to the decision for silence.

We are heavily influenced by what we listen to: our vocabulary, thought patterns, core beliefs, and, consequently, our behaviors. All these elements of who we are (and who we are becoming) are impacted by what we expose ourselves to when we’re riding along in the car, working out at the gym – whenever and wherever we listen. Regardless, we have more options than we allow; so do these positive father songs exist? What does great listening for dads look like?

1. Avoid immersing yourself in negative lyrics:

My friend Bob grew tired of arriving at work angry. I asked him what he listened to on the road and he said, “talk radio.” That was a simple fix! Another man I know listened to the kind of rap music that demeans women, amplifies anger, and features foul language; it was like he was digesting unfiltered hatred. Try monitoring your intake of negativity, then make an adjustment in favor of peace and encouragement.

2. No sound at all:

Noise surrounds us, infiltrating our consciousness, and often it’s obnoxious. In her song All I Really Want (Jagged Little Pill, 1995), songwriter Alanis Morissette asked the question, “Why are you so petrified of silence? Here can you handle this?” She followed the question with a full measure of complete silence. Try some silent commutes and a few long walks without the earphones. Can you handle it? Silence can give you the rest you need.

3. Create a playlist:

What we select and allow to drift into our subconscious selves really is up to us. We’re talking about seizing control of what we allow inside our heads. One surefire way is a “Dad playlist.” Check not just the tone but the content. Put together a broad catalog of music by artists of all musical types that offer positive, encouraging messages such as music celebrating commitment, reconciliation, and putting others first. Other examples are faith-based songs that encourage family life and personal reflection or tunes that tell stories about reconciliation, peace, and unity. What we select and allow to drift into our subconscious selves really is up to us.

4. Dad-oriented podcasts:

Begin by listening to some of the scores of available titles at Mark Merrill’s site. Then there’s a ton of good stuff ranging from TED talks to sermons from your favorite pastor. The key here is – always – you’re the one making the choice.

5. Audio Books:

Lastly, let’s mention audio books. The beauty of books is they get you hooked, and you can guarantee a couple of weeks where all your listening can fit into the edifying, encouraging, and positive category. We recommend 75% of your drive time listening to something compelling, then the final 25% invested in thinking about what you’ve listened to, meditating, and praying.

The common thread here is that technology now affords us the opportunity to wrestle control of what we listen to away from the sometimes cynical decisions of producers and programmers who may not be family friendly.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What kind of music do you listen to?”