Parents and kids who listen to music together have closer relationships, study says


If you’re looking for another reason to blast your favorite tunes, a new study has shown that parents who listen to music with their kids have better relationships with them as they enter young adulthood.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona and published in the Journal of Family Communication, the study distinguishes between two forms of shared musical activity: structured and casual. Structured musical activity included playing instruments together, while casual musical activity included listening to music or going to a concert together.

Both types of interaction were associated with better parent-child relationships when those children reached young adulthood. The effects appeared to be more pronounced when experiences happened during the child’s adolescence.

kids and parents singing photo
Getty Images | Brendan Smialowski

MORE: Study links being musical to better brain health as you age

“With young kids, musical activity is fairly common — singing lullabies, doing nursery rhymes,” said Jake Harwood, head of the University of Arizona’s Department of Communication and co-author of the study, in a statement. “With teenagers, it’s less common, and when things are less common you might find bigger effects, because when these things happen, they’re super important.”

Two factors that appear to make music a bonding force are coordination and empathy. For example, by singing and dancing together, kids and parents learn to synchronize with each other. Parents and kids may have more empathy for each other when they compromise on a radio station during car trips, and a shared experience of emotions expressed in a song can also deepen a parent-child bond.

kidz bop tour photo
Getty Images | Vivien Killilea

While this study showed that it’s important to give your teens’ music a try for the sake of getting closer to them, other research has shown that even babies and their parents can benefit from shared musical experiences. For example, a 2014 study showed that babies who were bounced in sync to a musical beat were more likely to cooperate with adults than those who weren’t bounced at all or were bounced out of sync.

As someone who grew up listening to all my parents’ favorite music and now considers my mom and dad my best concert-going buddies, I can certainly say that music has been a bonding force in my relationship with them.

Has music helped you get closer to your kids?

Entertainment, Family & Parenting, Music, News, Parenting

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Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything.

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