Top Songs About Kids Growing Up
“Fifteen” – Taylor Swift
“Seasons of Love” – The Cast of RENT
From the first riffs of the piano, anybody who’s ever heard any Broadway tune instantly remembers the words to this classic.
Jonathan Larson wrote this smash hit as the midway point of his world-famous show. The song itself began to represent how people live their lives through acts of love.
Though written for a Broadway show focusing on the AIDS epidemic, this song has defined generations of kids maturing into adulthood. The lyrics inspire them to live with purpose and, especially, love.
“7 Years” – Lukas Graham
Lukas Graham took the life advice his parents gave him as a child and turned it into his meal ticket with this nostalgic look at past days.
With wise lyrics, Graham shares the knowledge his family passed along as he made his way through his childhood, eventually maturing into manhood. Once he emerged into his thirties, Graham began to ponder what the world would hold for him now that the glory days of his youth were in the rear mirror.
The relatable tune is the result of that thought process.
“Grandpa Told Me So” – Kenny Chesney
It’s not always our parents who make a massive impact on our lives as a child. Grandparents also pass along vital information about how to make a life worth living.
Country star Kenny Chesney offers an emotional look at the breadth of knowledge he gained in his youth from the experiences he shared with his grandfather. The impact made upon Chesney’s life is in the lyrics of this country song about growing up.
Anyone who misses their grandparents will easily find solace in the nostalgic vibes of this hit.
“I Hope You Dance” – LeeAnn Womack
This country hit from the 2000s will continue to find its way into graduation ceremonies for years to come.
LeeAnn Womack wrote the song specifically as a message to her children. She wished they never pass up the opportunity to experience the best parts of life, regardless of the curveballs life tries to throw.
It’s easy to feel the love Womack feels for her children in this song. Any mother wants their child to thrive and find themselves. This song is one of those perfect songs about loving your children.
“The Climb” – Miley Cyrus
Those who have followed Miley Cyrus along her career know that this song represents the moment she began to move from teenager to womanhood.
While this song serves as a heartfelt tune for a motion picture, it became so much more. The lyrics inspire people to continue to climb the hills that life puts in their way. Cyrus empowers her listeners to never quit and always push through, no matter the obstacle.
“My Wish” – Rascal Flatts
Yet another addition to any graduation slideshow, Rascal Flatts puts in words what every parent wishes for their children as they grow.
There is something about the delivery of words by the band. The listener really feels the love and hope radiating from the lyrics.
The powerful song lyrics about their child growing up will have any proud parent in tears as they watch their kids progress through life.
“This One’s for the Girls” – Martina McBride
“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
“Don’t Worry Be Happy” – Bobby McFerrin
“Never Grow Up” – Taylor Swift
This sweet lullaby from Swift is about having a desire to protect the innocence of young children and make sure life is kind to them. “Won’t let nobody hurt you, won’t let no one break your heart,” she sings.
As the song moves on, Swift reflects on her own teenage years, telling her fourteen-year-old self to prioritise spending time with her mother over looking cool to her friends. Eventually we end up with Swift in her childhood room as she prepares to leave for her new apartment in a big city, all on her own. “I wish I’d never grown up,” she sings mournfully.
“Small Bump” – Ed Sheeran
Sheeran sings about all the possibilities that a pregnancy presents in “Small Bump.” The protagonist of the song watches the mother of his child grow and thinks about how he might raise the baby and what it will be like to see it go through life. “If you’re not inside me, I’ll put my future in you,” he sings.
The sad twist at the end of the song is that the pregnancy ends abruptly before the baby can ever be born, meaning that the protagonist will never actually get to see his child grow up.
“Small Bump” was written about a friend of Sheeran’s who tragically lost a baby five months into their pregnancy. The music video, which is shot all in one take, sees Sheeran sat in a hospital waiting room.
“Slipping Through My Fingers” – ABBA
The much-beloved track from ABBA describes the realisation that every parent experiences: that one day your little ones won’t be so little anymore. Bjorn Ulvaeus wrote the track about watching his seven-year-old daughter, Linda, go off to school.
The lyrics in the first verse reference that specific scene: “Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning, waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile.” In the film Mamma Mia, Donna (Meryl Streep), sings the track as she helps her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) prepare to walk down the aisle.
“tend the garden” – Gang Of Youths
Lead singer David Le’aupepe assumes the voice of his late father as he attempts to make sense of the truths he uncovered after his father’s death. “Tend the garden” sees David’s father watching his children grow and thinking of the other sons he’s fathered – children he will never tell his family about.
Le’aupepe only discovered that he had brothers after his father had already passed. “My youngest kid, he won’t shut his mouth – it won’t be long before the truth gets out,” sings Le’aupepe. The child he’s singing about is, of course, himself.
“Make You Proud” – Jensen McRae
“This is the year you go hungry the first time,” opens McRae. Speaking directly to her younger self, she tells her that if she can just hold on and work on her mental health, when she grows up, things will be better.
“Don’t hurt yourself, give me a chance to make you proud,” she pleads. She tells her younger self all the things that will happen to her as they grow up, from heartbreak to mental health struggles to accepting herself for who she is, and promises her that eventually it’s all going to be okay.
“Catch Me In The Air” – Rina Sawayama
Sawayama sings about her relationship with her mother in this upbeat rock-pop track. She depicts her mother, about to give birth, wondering if the world is ready for the daughter she’s about to have.
Although the two have had their differences over the years, Sawayama is incredibly grateful for the start her mother gave her, the love she showed her, and the opportunity she gave her to spread her wings. “Mama look at me now, I’m flying,” she sings.
“Cat’s In The Cradle” – Harry Chapin
The message of this poignant track from Harry Chapin is simple: spend time with your kids before they grow up. Chapin describes a father-son relationship gone sour, as the son struggles to pull his dad away from his work.
Due to a lack of quality time spent together, the two are further estranged as the boy grows, until eventually it’s the son who prioritises work over spending time with his father.
“Cat’s In The Cradle” is based on a poem written by Harry’s wife, Sandy. Chapin liked to joke at his shows that the poem was a way to ‘zap’ him for not being around for the birth of his son.
“The Circle Game” – Joni Mitchell
Mitchell sings about the turning of the years in this soft lullaby. She depicts a child who goes from chasing dragonflies and crying at falling stars to driving his car through the tone.
This relentless moving forward of time is what Mitchell calls “the circle game”. She describes how we’re forced to keep moving around “on the carousel of time”. Even though by the time the boy is twenty, many of his dreams have not turned out how he expected, he still has plenty of growing up left to do.
“Ribs” – Lorde
“It feels so scary getting old,” sings Lorde mournfully on “Ribs.” Lingering on moments of her adolescence that she worries she will never recreate. Every year that passes, she feels disillusioned with the process of growing up and wonders when she’ll be able to return to “laughing’ til our ribs get tough”.
“Seventeen” – Alessia Cara
Cara imparts advice passed down to her from her parents in this upbeat track. She remembers how badly she wanted to be seventeen as a young child and dismisses her parents, who tell her that one day she’ll be sad at how quickly time passes. “Now I wish I could freeze the time at seventeen,” she sings.
“I Don’t Know My Name” – Grace VanderWaal
Growing up can be a confusing time, and children can often feel like they aren’t sure exactly who they are yet. VanderWaal addresses these feelings in “I Don’t Know My Name”, describing the process of figuring out who she’s going be – cutting her hair, changing her clothes, making new friends and switching up her hobbies. It was all worth it: “I now know my name,” she sings triumphantly in the song’s final chorus.
Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.