Matthew West Reflects on Raising Kids in New Single ’18 Summers’

Photo from Matthew West’s Instagram

Matthew West Reflects on Raising Kids in New Single ’18 Summers’

By Movieguide® Contributor

Matthew West, a globally known Christian artist and father of two, reminisces about his parenting journey in his new song “18 Summers.”

“Penned by West with collaborators Jeff Pardo and AJ Pruis, the reflective tune walks through special memories with his family over the last 18 years of parenthood. The piano-backed melody is an all too relatable track about how fast time flies and shares standout moments, from Disney trips to learning how to drive and everything in between,” the Christian Beat reported.

West released the song on April 26.

“I talk a lot about the power of story, but this song is literally written in real-time in the exact chapter of the story that our family is in right now,” West told Woman’s World. “It’s graduation time. My oldest daughter is getting ready to graduate from high school, and my wife and I are both just in our feelings about that.”

“We’re dealing with all the heart feelings and emotions of, like, ‘Wow! How fast did it go? This is unbelievable.’ We just had her graduation party last night. We’re cleaning up after the party today—I can’t believe how fast it’s gone.”

Movieguide® previously reported West is proud that his children have relationships with God:

He’s incredibly thankful they have a solid faith and know how to turn to Christ in all situations.

“I don’t know that I’m ever prouder of my daughters than when I see their spiritual growth on display,” he said. “Like, they could sing in a play, they could, you know, get and A on a report card, all of that’s well and good, but seeing my daughter reading her Bible, my buttons will pop off my shirt.”

“18 Summers” isn’t written like a traditional prayer, but West still thinks of it like he’s talking to God.

“It’s like a prayer for family,” he said about the song. “Don’t stop praying for your family. Don’t stop praying for your kids.”

“It’s more written in a form of just that aching feeling you get as time flies by before your eyes, and you wish you could get it back. It’s about making most of the time you get with them,” he said.

The song started to form when West had a conversation with a friend, who’s also a father.

“When you measure time in different forms, it can highlight the brevity of life,” he says. “I was having a conversation with another dad, and he said, ‘Yeah, I heard it said once that we only have 18 summers. When you think about it, not as 18 years, but 18 summers, it all of a sudden it feels so much smaller and so finite.’”

“I thought ’18 Summers’ was a great title for a song. So as I was thinking about my daughter getting close to graduation, that title kept popping up to me. Right now is the perfect time for me to write that message, because that’s what I’m living.”

West felt that the song was perfect for the time he’s at in life right now.

He told Pardo and Pruis, “‘Guys, I don’t think this is a radio single. This just feels like something that I want to say right now, and it’s got to come out right now. There ain’t no waiting!’ And so we wrote it, and I love every bit of what the lyrics says.”

West’s wife, Emily, cried when she heard these lines from the song:

Dorm room number 205, a grown man trying not to cry.

Can’t wait to see all you’re going to do.

Your mom and me and two aching hearts driving home in an empty car,

thanking God for the gift of raising you for 18 summers.

The nod to the upcoming departure “was what made the dam break” when West performed it for Emily. West’s oldest daughter, Lulu, also cried, but not as much as her mom.

She “shed a tear, but I think she’s more excited about the next step ahead,” West explained. “She’s excited for freedom and independence, but music has always been a really special thing with me and Lulu. We’ll get in the car, and she’ll play me music that she’s listening to, and I’ll play her my new song demos. We’ve really bonded over the years through music.”

“So, sitting down and playing her a song is kind of a regular thing at the West house, and this one just had an extra layer of meaning and significance. So, we shared a really special moment together.”

West also wrote Lulu a song 18 years ago.

“When Lulu was born, I was sitting outside the delivery room writing a song to keep my mind off of the pending delivery and all the nerves that go along with that,” he laughs. “I wrote a song called ‘Safe and Sound’ that was a little lullaby for my daughter. Now here I am 18 years later, playing her a song about her going off to college. Time really does fly.”

West believes the song will touch parents and children, encouraging them to consider their relationship.

“For all our differences, there are certain common experiences that we have as moms and dads and kids and families, and just human beings in general,” he said. “When I’ve played this song for people, there’s such connectivity. It just fits into a moment that so many people will experience in their life, both the parents and the kids. I think it’s pretty special.”

West said on Instagram last week, “So thankful for the gift of family that God has blessed me with. I am treasuring my time with my girls during this season of life and even though our Fall will look different as Lulu heads off to college, I’m grateful we serve a God who is unchanging and steady through it all. Just like James 1:17 declares. 🙏🏻”

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