They Don’t Want What We Want, by Asking Alexandra

There is a new song out on the rock stations. It’s called They Don’t Want What We Want, by Asking Alexandra.

Do you listen intently to the words of songs your kids listen to – the stations, the kinds of music they like?

My oldest (at home) likes Slipknot, which is pretty dark. They wear masks and do a lot of screaming. At first I was horrified, but I didn’t let on because what I disallow will be sought out in secret. I know that from my own youth.

As I’ve listened to it with him in the car, I’ve come to appreciate their musicianship. I reach and stretch to understand lyrics, because, I guess, I’m old, and maybe I don’t hear very well, and I’ll go look them up for a better understanding.

So back to this new song. It came on when I was alone in the car, and I was catapulted back to a twisted teenager aching to get out on my own because I felt so smothered by not wanting what they wanted for me.


Here is a passage:

There’s something strange going on in this room

The walls are melting, I can hear the ceiling screaming to come down

I can’t believe we built this room

It was meant to be a sanctuary, not a prison

There’s something strange going on in this house

It’s like we’re pushing all these buttons, trying to start a war

Amongst ourselves, but we don’t know what we want

All we know’s that we don’t want what they want


Part of the song asks if you can feel the hairs stand on the back of your neck. And I do when I hear this song. It’s a song of yearning and ache, of being misunderstood in our own home, of not being given the freedom to be who we are, of someone taking from us to hold onto their power. It is full of angst.

It is us against them. It is parents as oppressors. It breaks my heart to know there are a huge number of kids hearing this on the radio and feeling heard for the first time – “They get it. They get the hell I’m living in.”

I don’t want to believe that many moms or dads would want to be the kinds of parents holding onto power over their kids in a way that makes their kids feel oppressed, but I don’t know. Sometimes there is talk of consequences that seem more about keeping power than helping kids grow.

I don’t exactly know how to talk about this. I just know that ever since I heard the song, and it’s hugely popular right now, I’ve felt a strong desire to discuss it with other parents. To ask the questions and maybe even challenge our thinking a little bit.

Do we exercise unreasonable power over our kids? Do we expect more than they can give? Do we make our sanctuary a prison?


Another section:

There’s something wrong with the castle they’re in

Watching over every single move that we make

Try to see past their perfect smiles

They were supposed to be protectors, not o-f**king-ppressors

There’s something wrong with the way that they speak

Like the more they take from us, the better off that we’ll be

Anything to get the power they seek

All I know’s that they don’t want what we want


Maybe this makes me too soft. I know people say you’re not supposed to be friends with your kids. “You’re the Authority.” But, I want my kids in my life forever. I’m kind of addicted to them. I think they’re amazing and wonderful and darn near magical. I want robust family gatherings. I want them to want to come around when they’re grown, to want their kids to hang out with me.

I want them to remember their childhood home as a place of freedom to be themselves, a place of fun and adventure. I want them knowing they can talk to me.



Can you feel the hairs stand on the back of your neck?

Can you feel your heart beating right out of your chest?

Can you feel your bones ache like there’s something within?

Can you feel your blood pumping inside of your skin?

Can you feel it? Panic, panic

Can you feel it? Panic, panic

We don’t want what they want

They don’t want what we want

We don’t want what they want

And they don’t care





I don’t want my kids to grow up and hear a song like this and have it resonate with them and echo around in their hearts, like it did for me.

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