Thank you, Eminem.

March 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have a secret that I haven’t told my friends.

My teenage son listens to Eminem. And, last weekend, I let him go to Eminem’s Sydney concert.

My son loves music: rap music, to be specific. I don’t know where this came from, given that my husband and I are more classical/new age/folk music types. When I first discovered he was listening to Eminem and his extreme alter ego, Slim Shady, I was horrified.

This is my first child to hit the teenage years, and I am rapidly learning that the second you disapprove of something as a parent, it becomes all the more attractive to them. Come to think of it, I can remember that one from when I was a rebellious teenager myself.

So for a while I tried to pretend he wasn’t really listening that much, or that the other voices and influences in his life were stronger. And I didn’t really know much about Eminem or Slim Shady. I only knew the rumours, which were definitely not comforting.

One day, whilst waiting for William at drumming practice, I sneaked a peek at his ipod. It was full of Eminem and Slim Shady – hell, I think he had the entire back catalogue on there! So I listened, to educate myself. And yes, I was horrified.

That was a year ago. Now, I say thank you to Eminem.

Thank you, because that day, on the way home in the car, my son and I had the first of many conversations (arguments!) about Eminem’s music. The opinions, the language, the themes, even the names of the songs all became launching pads for deeper conversations.

We’ve now discussed women, how Eminem speaks about them, and they should be spoken to and treated. Smoking, alcohol, and drugs, and how easy it is to become addicted were next on the agenda. Racism, homophobia, dealing with anger, and violence have also been talked about.

I’m sure I would have managed those important conversations with my teenage son eventually, but Eminem’s music enabled a more honest conversation, with an example my son could relate to. Since we were discussing a third party, my son could lose the self defense he has in place when we specifically discuss him.

In turn, I have now been educated on the few songs where Eminem displays the kinder emotions: regret, care, and love for his children. He now has a teenage child himself.

The thing is: I love my son. I love his personality, and I love watching him grow into an adult. In his case, rap music is a big part of his life. It helps to make him who he is. My attitude began to soften.

So we let him go to the concert, with a friend and his father. It was to be his first big mosh pit concert, and I was nervous. I gave him many, many speeches about responsible behaviour at a concert and personal safety in the lead up. But I needn’t have worried. He and his friend made it to the front of the pit and stayed there for the whole concert. It was well run and safe. He loved it.

The best part was the run down from the father, who informed me that although he performed a few songs of his older Slim Shady work, Eminem did say that he is now a different man from back then, and talked briefly about how. He also apparently said words in support of gay marriage.

This is where the biggest thank you comes in. It is well known that as our children grow into teenage-hood, their main influences shift away from parents. How great is it that a cool, edgy rap star is now maturing and sharing that with his impressionable young fans.

Another interesting read on Eminem: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/why-eminem-is-a-greater-artist-than-lady-gaga-will-ever-be/story-e6frg8h6-1226836137106#

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