What do your kids see?

My wife copied me with her e-mail quote-of-the-day yesterday: "Don't worry that children never listen to you. Worry that they are always watching you."

As the father of a sixteen-month-old, I have certainly learned that my son watches me closely. It didn't take him long to figure out that the big button on the front of the television will turn it on. Now the battle will be to convince him not to reach for the volume knob on the audio equipment.

Of course, I've resolved to be careful about the little things, like showing my temper or yelling at the dog. But I'm sure my son is going to learn a lot of things from my behavior that I don't consciously think about. Hopefully he learns more good than bad, but I don't think he will be blind to either.

In thinking about this, I started to wonder what he will learn as he watches me get farther and farther into this crazy audio hobby. Will it be good? Bad? Or will it have no noticeable effect on him at all?

I'm curious what those of you with kids have seen over the years. How have your kids responded to your love of music, your love of equipment, and your pursuit of sonic nirvana?

Have they learned to love music? Care for equipment? Or have they picked up some of the more negative traits of audiophiles?
They do not share my love of equipment. They love music, but believe a Walkman cd player sounds as good as anything I have. Maybe on Limp Bizkit it does. They don't touch my equipment though. My wife stayed home when they were young. She knows that dings cost money in resale. She was very good about saying 'No' when they would head towards my system. If they got mischevious and didn't listen, they got a 'time out'. They didn't like being forced to sit in the punishment chair, so it changed their behavior. The punishment chair was just a regular chair that they had to sit in and 'think about what they've done', when they misbehaved. It worked so far, I have 3 boys ages 18, 15 and 12. None of them touch any of my audio equipment to this day. They might comment on it, but no touch. Overall, my audiophile habits seem to be immune to them. They think I'm nuts, just like my wife does. Maybe I am.
My two daughters, born 1971 and 1975, have grown up with the hobby. They both loved going to bed while listening to Dahlquists or Quads from the living room. The result? Both are audiophiles. The older daughter has Dahlquist DQ10s with a sub-woofer, while the younger one prefers 'stats and has a pair of Acoustat 2+2s. The younger daughter is a singer and plays stringed instruments and uses tube amplifiers only. She also has a home recording studio. She comes to me with questions like: "Dad, can you make me a 25 foot Mogami mike cable with female XLR and 1/4" TRS terminations?" My older daughter's 3 year old son is learning to play guitar. I highly recommend raising audiophile kids. Don
My son is 9 and has learned to operate the equipment better than my wife. Not only does he have a love of music, he has been taking music lessons. He's already had the thrill of performing in front of live audiences. I have exposed him to more types of music than most kids twice his age. He knows Beethoven and Bach as well as the Backstreet Boys.

One luxury I have that my father didn't when I was growing up is a Tivo with a pause button for live tv. This came in very handy when we watched the World Series together and he has baseball questions. I could answer him without missing any of the action. I was expected to sit there and keep quiet when I was a boy.
I used to keep "the System" in the living room when the kids were born. We have since moved and the basement is better suited to listening. Our equipment was always there to listen to, so the kids grew up listening. They're only ten and thirteen now, but both like to listen. Mostly to things I have, but also to a few things I would never even consider.
The youngest is taking music lessons and the older is waiting for us to find a good viola teacher. Having the music on made them both want to learn. After several years on the guitar the younger wants to quit. I told him he could quit if he did not like it, but not till he took lessons for five years. He actually likes it, he just doesn't want to practice!
I grew up in a non-musical home where music was never really a focus. I never learned to play anything other than Krell, Aragon, Pass Labs, etc. Your children/child has a great opportunity. Build a love of music, all music, not just your favorite styles. The child will only benefit from it.
Keep in mind though, people are more important than things. This is difficult when your toddler son pokes his finger through the grill cloth and into the driver, but equipment goes away, children are there for a lifetime!
My oldest used to put his casettes in the tape deck and turn on the amp and play them when he was 1 1/2. He hasn't seemed very interested since the age of 3, but he has some cds and his own little minisystem and headphones now as a teenager. My younger son was never interested unless someone else turned it on for him.

I never worried about either of them.
Two very good points, Nrchy. I've caught myself jumping up as soon as my son toddles too close to the floorstanders. Mainly because they're heavy, but also because I don't want them knocked over. I'm sure there will be some accidents (hopefully minor) in the future as he grows up and gets more rambunctious. But I'm definitely hoping that having him grow up around music will be worth whatever trouble it involves. When I was growing up, I was offered the opportunity to take lessons, but I turned it down. We weren't a very musical home and I just didn't have the interest in it. Now I regret my choice. I'm hoping that my son will grow up with a love of music and will make a different choice given the same opportunity.
I always let my son sit and listen with me, even when he was a baby. He learned to operate the equipment not long after he could walk. I never told him "no," instead I showed him how everything worked and helped him.

The only off limits thing was the electrical outlets and the cables running to them. One day he crawled over to one of my dedicated lines and stared at the outlet. I crawled over beside him like a giant child and stared too. He looked at me and began to laugh ( I can still see his face in my mind !) I pointed at the wall covering near the outlet and calmly said, "cold." He smiled. Then I pointed to the openings leading inside the outlet and said. "Hot." He immediately drew his hands back to his chest, the same pose he made when he thought his dinner was too hot.

May sound silly, but they are smarter than you imagine. Just get them to understand with a little patience and love and they will not only learn, they will help you later on.

Last week he paused his computer game to help me move my new Soundlabs. For those unfamiliar with teenage boys passion for computers, you cannot fully appreciate this situation.
My eldest girl as a toddler (she's now nine), stood up on my speaker wire like it was a tightrope. The monitor ended up crashing into the amp. I found myself instinctively concerned for her, which gave me good news about myself. She wasn't hurt and as it turned out only the speaker was scratched.
My other daughter liked to mimic her daddy changing records. She twice grabbed and broke the cantelever off cartridges. That cost me some money, but she's the one that gets out of bed and cuddles with her daddy when he's listening late at night...priceless!
I have a little one that has just turned three and he has figured out how to turn my amp and pre-amp on and off. I guess that I am lucky that I have a room soley for my audio gear. Once I saw that he was starting to get curious about daddy's toys, I changed the door knob to one with a lock on it. This way I don't have to worry about me turning my back and him running into my room.
He has most recently figured out how to operate the dvd player and reciever, which are in the living room. I haven't quite figured out some form of deterrance for that yet. If/when I do, I'll let you know. Also, if you think you kid is bad now, just wait, it gets worse!!!!
My second born son, now 6, loves the home theater rig, and rarely touches components. Due to the difficulty of a (multi-component, multi-format, multi-function) system that even boggles me sometimes when the remote gets stabbed at blindly in the dark, he doesn't mess with the remotes or the manaul controls on the units themselves. Although he DOES know how to manually switch video inputs on the TV and video processor. He's seen me do that enough times.

He's got his own TV/VCR in his bedroom, and he's got that remote mastered.

I have no qualms about quality time spent listening to, and enjoying music with him. He doesn't have the critical ear that I do, but he does listen to the lyrics, often repeating what he heard hours later.

TV/movie time is monitored vs. "hands on" recreation (puzzles; skill-building; problem-solving, etc.). I just hope he learns, either thru example or life experience, that he has to work for the toys. Too many kids these days are living with their parents 'til their mid-30's and beyond. Anything resembling a job is just for "play money", not survival funds.

He has great respect for the "boundaries" and ownership issues surrounding the equipment. I don't play with his toys. He doesn't play with mine. He lives with his mother, and spends 2 nights a week with me. But considering the circumstances, all is good.

I think the worst example to set for a child is unhealthy habits: Smoking, abuse, drinking, drug use, multiple partners, welfare slouching, poor hygiene, junk food, etc...

Hifi is a worthy, intelligent, harmless obsession (providing you can AFFORD it). Some can take it or leave it. Nobody gets hurt. And it's great mental stimulation!--

"My name is David, and I'm addicted to hifi".

Teach your children well....
I like your approach, Albert. And I would bet that you were happy to have the help with the Soundlabs . . .
My 3 year old can play a cd or dvd! She learned how to open the drawer and push play. The rest turns on automatically. Spoiled, huh?