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Since music provides a high level of enjoyment, changing a person’s listening habits is a significant challenge for parents who prefer their teenagers to listen exclusively to Jewish music. It’s important for these parents not to directly confront their teenagers on this issue. Rather, the first step is to understand why their teenagers choose to listen to secular music and then to address their inner needs.

Possible issues behind religious teenagers listening to secular music include a desire to control and a need to express their individuality. The underlying message is that they can “listen to whatever they want, whenever they want it.” Also many teenagers use music to escape from painful family relationships and they tend to turn the volume up to overwhelming levels to drown out feelings of anger, depression and resentment.

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Entering into an area as private as musical taste is difficult but it is possible to influence what teenagers listen to. Possible relationship-based strategies include:

· Improving your relationship with your teenager and increasing the number of shared pleasurable experiences together. Going to Jewish concerts together is a great place to start.

· Encouraging your teenager’s talents in music, art, or athletics and helping your teen find other ways to express his or her individuality · Empowering your teenager with healthy levels of control · Giving your teenager a monthly allowance for buying Jewish music at a local Judaica store · Becoming conversant in the latest trends in Jewish music and talking to your teenager about popular CDs

*This is part 19 in a series of articles dealing with At Risk Behavior in Teens.

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force. He is the author of “At Risk – Never Beyond Reach” and “First Aid for Jewish Marriages.” To order a copy, visit www.JewishMarriageSupport.com. For an appointment call 646-428-4723 or email rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com.

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