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How to raise ROCKSTARS!

I grew up in a Christian home with two musician parents. My mom was a professional opera singer and my dad was a professional jazz drummer. I had their influence sonically as we listened to an eclectic mix of coltrain, 2nd chapter of acts, phil keaggy, and show tunes. We had music all the time and stuff that “Seemed” to rock. In high school I went through a rap phase and then one day everything changed when I met my youth pastor. His name was bob and at an all night lock-in he handed me a mix tape called “the best of Hendrix”.

It was that exchange that led me to making up lost time learning from my new mentors: Yes, SRV, Blue Oyster Cult, smashing pumpkins, nirvana, clapton and about 900 other amazing artists.

Let’s fast forward a bit: I got married and we had our first kid. We both agreed to make sure that our first born would be inundated with ROCK. I still remember our 3 year old holding a ukelele and a cowboy hat on his head jamming to SRV “pride and joy.
14 years of marriage  and 4 kids later time constraints have made it more complicated to make sure that these kids melt peoples faces off. We want NEED to retire early!

We have been told by other parents that we are an inspiration in the world of raising ROCK-aware kids so I want to make sure that we pass on our wisdom.

Make sure you save this for the future because the info I am including here, which was previously top secret, is very important. Here we go.

1. TAKE STAKE IN THE NUMBER OF KIDS: So you have 1 kid; you need to start out on the right foot by looking at solo artists to emulate. If you have 2 kids that is really nice, but the likelihood of you raising the next Simon & Garfunkel is quite slim. This is why I sugest having a discussion with your spouse about the benefits of having a 3rd child. I have two words for you: CREAM and KING’s X. Then there are the rare few similar to my household who have 4 or more children. This of course is the ideal situation because in the world of rock you have bass, guitar, lead guitar, drummer and vocals all covered.

2. MAKE FACES: Do your kids smile a lot? If they do you need to change that. Rockers make faces. SRV, when he rocked, made sure to express how deeply how he felt about the music by contorting his face in a way that said constipation. Rock = contorted face. Make sure you have videos and images so your children can practice making the “correct” faces.

3. SAY NO TO BARNEY: We made a rule when we first got married that we would not let our kids watch things that annoyed the crap out of us. Barney, Dora and Teletubbies are all EVIL. Sadly this culture has infiltrated the clothing market for our kids. Try shopping Walmart for your kids clothes and you will find all kinds of scary Tees that depict things that do not rock. It may take a bit more time, but your kids NEED ripped jeans, flannel and skulls. Can you have to many skulls? OF COURSE NOT!

4. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FANS: You are thinking right now: Of course it’s about the fans!, but I am not talking about people who buy tickets. I am talking about an actual fan that you plug in. You need to make sure to get the angle of the fan right on the floor. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Plug it in, angle it up and point towards your rocker kids face. The desired effect is hair flying everywhere.

5. BUILD A STAGE: When we lived in Oregon Tristan, our oldest, was really into SRV and Mute math. He had nailed the faces and it was time that he learn how to work a stage so I built one. I built an 8 foot stage in his room about 6″ off the floor. He learned to work the stage and also learned to only stage dive when there are people there to catch you.

6. J IS FOR FENDER JAGUAR: Barnes & Noble is an amazing store and not just because of the little coffee corner. They have 4 aisles of discounted books. Amazingly enough 4 shelves typically have picture books of ROCK! You could always have reading time with your kids with books like “goodnight moon” and I won’t judge, but that will never get your kid to rock. Sit down with them and read “guitars A to Z”. Your kids need to have an unparalleled understanding of GEAR. If your kid is 2 and they can spot a flying V korina then you are doing your job as a parent. If your kid says “strummy thingy” then you have FAILED!

7. FLUTE PLAYERS GET BEAT UP: “one time in band camp…” should NEVER come out of your kids mouth. If your son picks clarinet he will never be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Parents choose your kids instruments wisely. Give them options. You can delve into Keytar if they are rockin Flock of Seagulls, but an Oboe is simply unacceptable.


9. IT GOES TO 11: While I can not recommend showing your kids “this is spinal tap”, you do have a responsibility to teach the principles. An amp can never be loud enough. Drummers may explode. Always make stage props bigger than you need. Spinal tap and Kid Rock both taught us that smaller people make great rockers!

There are of course more steps, but we are still learning. We are trying SO hard to make sure our kids hero’s are not Justin beiber and Nikki Minaj. All joking aside as much as our family truly does love to rock I really want their hero to be Jesus. When my little girl is jamming on a baby guitar and singing at the top of her lungs Daniel Bashta’s song “Like a Lion” I know we are teaching them exactly what they need to truly ROCK!


  1. Filed for future reference.

    I may follow this so completely to the letter that my child(ren) disown(s) me by age 5.

    Worth it.

  2. Ryan Ryan

    This made my night and quite possibly changed my view on parenting… Yes it will be a few years before I am fruitful in the Lords eyes, but when that time comes I’ll be pulling this manual out of my back pocket!

  3. Marie Ferree Marie Ferree

    It’s so funny I’m not musical but I know I’m a rock star in the Spirit does anything else really matter??
    Keep up the good work Joel and Kelly!!

  4. Heather Heather

    When my children were VERY young I taught them proper cues: when it’s time to go we have to “rock and roll” or “hit it” and when they’re doing a good job on an art project I encourage them to “rock on”.
    As far as #2 goes, our oldest child is particularly gifted in this area. She has Aspergers and most smiles look like a painful grimace; just another sign that she was BORN for rockstar greatness.
    My second oldest girl has already learned that you don’t do anything you can get a roadie to do for you; she NEVER carries ANYTHING heavier than a moodring.

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