We'll talk about the sex and drugs all day, but when it comes to the rock-n-roll we never think to turn down the tunes, and even if we tell 'em, do they listen?  Still, the conversation needs to take place.Every day, as a parent, there are literally thousands of things to worry about when it comes to the kids.  Are they wearing a thick enough jacket?  Should they be talking to that friend?  Will they make the right choice when it comes to alcohol and drugs?  Yet, when it comes to protecting our children's hearing, most of us won't think twice about it unless the headphones are loud enough to interrupt our own music or TV show.

Logan using dad's headphones for Netflix. Photo by me.

I'm as guilty as anyone.  As a music lover (I'm listening to music, probably too loud, in my giant studio headphones right now) I've been listening to music through headphones since the first time my mom told me she didn't want to listen to my crap music in the car.  From that day on, it became a struggle to get the music louder.  The headphones were never loud enough.

Looking back, it may have actually been a blessing that our headphone technology in the late 80s and early 90s was as limited as it was, otherwise the damage could have been much worse.  I can't imagine having access to the Beats that every member of my family (except me and the dogs) wear every day.

I feel bad, actually, when I see my boys wearing headphones.  I know it's the culture, but I also know I lead by example.  If I'm cleaning the kitchen, mowing the yard, working in the garden, typing on the computer or even getting ready for work in the morning I've got music blasting through my bluetooth speaker or through my headphones.

During this 7-hour road trip I don't think the headphones came off other than for bathroom breaks. Photo by Ty

Through years of wearing headphones for several hours a day (work), going to concerts (work AND play) and generally increasing the volume to 11 as often as I can, I don't even know what "normal" hearing is considered.  From time to time I'll have a ringing in my ear at random times, but it's only if someone points out that I didn't hear _______________ (fill in the blank- it's just about everything) that I notice the actual hearing "loss".

There are plenty of people to turn to for advice, from a Dr. on the NBC News to science websites and even to the EPA.  It can be an overload of information, and most of the information says, "Wellllll, this is the limit for adults, but we're not sure about the kids".  The concerning news I heard last week that grabbed my attention was that kids shouldn't be listening to headphones or loud music for more than an hour a day.  If you commute, that's just driving time alone.  Uh-oh.  Are we to be expected to engage these little meanies in conversation after a long day?  God help us all.

There's also the little problem that comes with kids not listening to a damn thing parents say because, well, we're parents, and parents are stupid.  There are a few websites done by well-meaning adults that attempt to talk directly to the kids, which is a lot like trying to convince a brick wall to mow the yard.  There's even a video from the hipsters over at ASHA.





We've all feared for years the "sex" talk with our kids, yet for some reason talking about your kids' hearing seems to be a screaming argument with a tiny tyrant where it becomes nothing more than, "Do it because I told you so", instead of the much more effective YOU'RE GOING TO BE A BUMBLING IDIOT OF A HEARING-IMPAIRED BUFFOON AT AGE 35 IF YOU DON'T TURN THAT MUSIC DOWN".

My football broadcast assistant. Photo by me.

Truth be told, much like sex and drugs and everything else our kids are going to face, we can keep them under thumb at home, but once they hit the school hallways all bets are off.  The best we can do, like with sex and drugs and listening to Kanye West (BAD!!  BAD!!), we can only educate our children on right and wrong.  The rest is up to them, and that scares the hell out of me on an hourly basis.