How to Pray by Coach K | July 3, 2020


Three Things This Week

1. Kanye’s Big Week
What it is: Producer, rapper, and fashion-designer-turned-Christian Kanye West seems to have his hands on all things pop culture these days, with a new net worth over $1.3 billion.
Why it’s a mixed bag: Just this week, West dropped “Wash Us in the Blood” with Travis Scott, inked an apparel deal with the Gap, and teased a new children’s cartoon with Kid Cudi. West is an enigmatic icon despite the breadth of his talent and his relentless desire to create, innovate, and make a name for himself. But where do you draw the line between entrepreneurial genius and megalomania, between admirable old-school hustle and shameless self-promotion? West once called himself, “The greatest artist that God has ever created.” We admire Kanye’s pursuit of excellence, but as Christian parents, help your kids realize the path to true greatness is actually counterintuitive. It’s not about becoming more, but choosing less. As Jesus reminds all of us, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”

2. Hamilton Comes Home
What it is: After conquering Broadway, Hamilton hits the small screen on July 3.
Why it’s perfect timing: The film production of the critically acclaimed theatrical hit is being released on Disney+, complete with the original cast starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. This screen version will give viewers who could never see the show on Broadway their first glimpse of this riveting historical tale. If your teens struggle to appreciate history because it has been taught as an endless procession of dry dates and boring facts, watch Hamilton this weekend to be reminded that history is in fact a story filled with unique individuals whose personal flaws and heroics have shaped the nation we are today. And as you watch, notice how the writers turned boring conversations about politics into engaging, personal plot lines centered on a compelling story. As you start conversations with your kids about everything from sexuality, history, and politics, how can you do likewise? Learn to incorporate the art of telling a great story as you train up your children in the way they should go.

3. Kids, Race, and Unity
What it is: Alicia Keys hosted a star-studded cast of future leaders and influencers on Nickelodeon to help the next generation break the cycle of racial injustice.
Why it’s worth watching: Talking with younger children about race is difficult, especially if they are young and innocent enough not to even notice racial issues. But it is never too early to create safe spaces to discuss racism. If your children are wondering why people are marching, why our Black brothers and sisters are so angry, and what to do about it all, watch the special on YouTube. Children often feel like they are too young to make a difference, or simply don’t know where to start in helping to tackle such a huge problem. This special will help them with the practical steps they can take to end injustice in their sphere of influence.

Spotlight

How do I talk to my teens about racism? What does the Bible say about racism? In what ways do the roots of U.S. history still affect us today? How should we address this complex issue as Christians? Our brand new Parent’s Guide to Racism in the US will help you begin to navigate these questions with your teens.

Coach K’s Prayer

One of the hallmarks of spiritual maturity is humility and understanding that the more we know, the more we truly do not know. As we grow in wisdom and stature before God, we realize the way we see things may not be the way others see them. Our world is not the world. What we experience isn’t what other people experience. If you’ve never dealt with systemic racism, police injustice, or bigotry, it’s often hard to accept that these issues are a lived reality for so many of our fellow citizens. Unfortunately, our privilege often blinds us to others’ suffering.

As author Kevin Patterson writes, “The thing that makes systemic oppression so difficult to discuss is that when you do, you have to acknowledge your role in it. Often this means having to admit that you’re part of the problem. It’s not a comfortable experience when you learn that you further or benefit from the oppression of others.” That’s why, now more than ever, it is time to listen, to learn, and to respond with sincere humility to the problem plaguing our nation.

One such example came this past week when Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski released a powerful message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As the most prominent person at prestigious Duke University, as well as the most recognized coach in college basketball, when Coach K speaks, people listen. In the video he humbly admits, “Over the last couple months, I have had the opportunity to see more, to listen more, to think more, and to understand at a deeper level.” The question is, have we?

If you are still struggling to see systemic racism and social injustice, watch this impassioned plea by Coach K as he asks our nation to pray this simple prayer: “Lord, help me choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.” Amen.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

Gen Z Is Speaking (or Singing) Loud and Clear | June 26, 2020


Three Things This Week

1. #BullyMillennials
What it is: Gen Z has a new target, and this time (language) it’s people much closer to their age: Millennials.
Why it’s nuanced: Tired of older people lumping them in with the generation just before them, Gen Zers are making it clear that not all young people are the same. As BuzzFeed News points out (language), “Gen Z sees millennials as a generation too willing to define [them]selves by [their] interests and identities. That comes through in a loyalty to brands, or ‘90s nostalgia, or political figures, rather than movements, philosophies, or ideals.” A 20-year-old TikTok star they interviewed explained that more than making fun of Millennials, it’s about making fun of Millennials’ ways of coping with the raw deal both generations believe they’ve inherited: “Because we grew up with this lack of hope…we’ve learned to accept and make a joke out of it.” For those struggling to fully understand their Gen Zers, a few minutes researching the movement and asking for their perspective on it could be enlightening.

2. This Week in Gaming
What it is: Despite the E3 Expo, video games’ largest conference at which developers often reveal big updates and releases, being canceled due to coronavirus concerns, the world of gaming is not on pause.
What to know: First, Minecraft released its Nether update this week, expanding the underworld and giving players new challenges, foes, and a new reason to log on. Second, in an attempt to be “sensitive about the issues” gamers are dealing with, Fortnitehas removed all police vehicles from the game. In addition, they’re adding tons of new features, hosting more concerts, and they will be hosting movie nights on Party Royale Island starting Friday (June 26). And finally, ICYMI, Mixer, Microsoft’s Twitch competitor, will be no more as of July 22. Instead, they will be partnering with Facebook Gaming (also a Twitch competitor) in an effort to compete with Twitch, as well as to make their new xCloud streaming service as successful as possible.

3. “I Just Wanna Live”
What it is: 12-year-old Keedron Bryant recently signed a deal with Warner Records after going viral in late May on social media for his song “I Just Wanna Live.”
Why it’s powerful: The song, which was performed by Bryant but written by his mother Johnnetta, was written in response to the killing of George Floyd and paints a picture of the life Keedron lives as an African American male in today’s racial climate. After his original Instagram post received over 3 million views and gained attention from figures such as Barack Obama, Lebron James, and Lupita Nyong’o, Bryant signed the deal and released a full studio version of the track, donating all proceeds to the NAACP. While it may seem crazy that a 12-year-old can sign a deal with a major music label because of one video, it shows that today’s young voices are wanting to be heard and that people are willing to listen. It’s heartbreaking to read such intense lyrics and know that they are coming from the mouth of a 12-year-old boy, but it’s important to see how seriously Gen Z is taking the issue of racism in our country.

Spotlight

“I’m bored!” We have all heard that phrase more times than we want to count, but it’s likely you’ve heard it even more recently. Check out our new Parent’s Guide to Boredom as we help you face this issue with a fresh perspective.

Summer Streaming

The three most populous states (Texas, California, and Florida) recorded outbreaks in Coronavirus cases this week, leading many experts to warn of “apocalyptic” surges in the virus. In California, COVID-19 is spreading through private home gatherings, and suddenly more young people are testing positive. If these trends continue, the U.S. is well on its way to a second round of stay-at-home orders. Instead of pool parties and sleepovers, your teen’s summer might be filled by streaming the latest, if not greatest, shows on Netflix. Here are six shows sure to capture their attention as the summer doldrums set in.

  1. Outer Banks: Set on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this cringe-worthy mash-up of Dawson’s Creek and The Goonies isn’t going to win any Emmys, but that won’t stop teens from bingeing it. The show depicts a crew of working-class teens searching for an ancient, shipwrecked treasure on the sun-soaked coast.
  2. Legacies: The second spin-off from The Vampire Diaries focuses on Hope Mikaelson, a werewolf-witch-vampire hybrid that battles monsters all while growing up, falling in love, and dealing with acne. You know, just normal, everyday teenager things.
  3. Blood and Water: Already on Netflix’s top 10 most-streamed shows in the U.S., France, and the U.K., this mysterious drama follows a crew of scheming teens in a wealthy South African prep school as they seek the real connection between two rival classmates. Timely conversations about race, human trafficking, and class privilege make this show especially poignant this summer.
  4. The Inbetweeners: Although this raunchy British sitcom released in the U.K. several years ago, it’s finding a new audience among American teens, thanks to Netflix. A painful take on toxic teen masculinity and sexual insecurities, the show is a comedic attempt to highlight high school issues like binge-drinking, skipping school, and bullying.
  5. The Kissing Booth (season 2): Releasing on July 24, Elle Evans juggles her long-distance relationship with bad boyfriend Noah (played by Jacob Elordi) as he heads off to Harvard in this romantic sequel to the wildly popular teen drama. Although it is rated TV-14, scenes of sexual assault and sexuality highlight this story of a young girl’s first taste of love. Accordingly, the mantra that romantic love is synonymous with sexual expression is the key theme most teens will learn from this series.
  6. Warrior Nun: Inspired by the Areala manga novels, this ten episode supernatural series hits Netflix July 2 and centers on an orphaned teen girl who wakes up in a morgue with superpowers, only to be recruited into an elite society of demon-fighting nuns.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

Is Your Teen a Digilante? | June 19, 2020


Three Things This Week

1. Love, Victor
What it is: This week, Hulu released all episodes of this new teen drama spinoff of the 2018 film Love, Simon.
Why it will resonate with teens: The film was a rosy portrayal of a high school student figuring out if he’s ready to come out as gay. But where the film made it seem like life is easy and everything will work out in the end, the series looks to offer a bit more realistic portrayal of teen life today. It centers on a 16-year-old Latinx boy who moves to a new state and school right in the middle of trying to figure out who he is and to whom he’s attracted. Teens who have similar struggles or have friends who do will definitely be adding this show to their list of “must sees.” If their parents wish to disciple them in the area of sexuality, they will need to have delicate, calm, compassionate conversations, keeping in mind that their teens may indeed be Victor. (Check out our Gender Video Kit and our Sexuality Video Kit for help with this!)

2. The Rise of Teen Digilantes
What it is: Teenagers have taken to social media to expose racist behavior allegedly committed by schoolmates and teachers, even using Google Docs to list the contact info of the accused.
Why it’s concerning: As Forbes documents (language), many accusations describe the behavior in question and provide screenshots or videos as evidence, but some simply list names and personal contact info without any description or evidence. And complicating matters, doctoring images and videos is all too easy. Some posts have been taken down after being proved false, while some teens have taken to falsifying evidence as a way to troll someone. Ask your teens if they follow any accounts or have seen any tweets or docs for their school and how it makes them feel. This is a great opportunity for talking about the long-term consequences of both engaging in racist behavior and of taking justice into their own hands. Many who have been accused, whether falsely or not, are being investigated by their schools and future colleges. What should the consequences of engaging in racist behavior as a teenager be?

3. Help Keep The CT Free!
What it is: Help us keep this e-newsletter free for all by partnering financially with us this Axis Giving Day, June 23. We seek to raise $85,000, and for every dollar you donate, we will pledge that same amount to the Axis Scholarship Fund, which provides Axis resources to families who otherwise could not afford them!
Why we need you: As you might guess, this email requires many hours of research, writing, and editing every week to ensure it stays current and relevant. Despite the cost, we offer it for free so that any adult who desires to help the young people they love has access to its helpful info and insights. But we can’t keep it free without you! Your tax-deductible donation of any amount will not only keep this incredible resource free, it will also help families in need gain access to other valuable Axis resources that will equip them for heart-shaping conversations with their teens. Click here to make your donation today!

Spotlight

We have all had one of those conversations in which we felt a generational gap the size of the grand canyon. That’s why we’re hosting a free 3-part series called “Bridge the Gap” designed to help you feel more connected to your teen and their world! Join us June 23rd for this free series!

VeggieTales on Racism in the U.S.

Megachurch pastor Louie Giglio set off a social media firestorm earlier this week when he referred to white privilege as “white blessing.” His comments came from an interview on racism with Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy and rapper Lecrae. Making matters worse, Giglio went on to say, “We understand the curse that was slavery, white poeple do, and we say, ‘That was bad,’ but we miss the blessing of slavery—that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in.” Thankfully, he has since apologized.

As insensitive as his comment was, he’s actually correct. Edmund Morgan, famed professor of history at Yale University, spent his academic career researching just how closely tied American freedom is to American slavery. The first wouldn’t exist without the second. The freedom of whites depended more than we like to admit on the slavery of blacks. Sadly, this awkward marriage of slavery and freedom continues to be woven into the fabric of American public life. If you’ve never experienced systemic prejudice or racial injustice but have only benefited from it, it’s often hard to see.

For instance, did you know that the first air attack on American soil was not Pearl Harbor? The little-known and often-squelched “Tulsa Massacre” was actually the first. In 1921, a mob of white men and women poured into the predominantly black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, OK in what can only be described as a racially motivated pogrom, burning businesses, setting fires to homes, and even dropping incendiaries from airplanes on their fellow citizens.

Uncovering these facts and examining our nation’s past and present is painful. If phrases like “white privilege” are triggering, or if you simply do not understand the cultural conversation surrounding systemic racial injustice, we strongly encourage you to watch “Holy Post: Race in America” by Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales. Vischer’s monologue not only provides the historical context to help you and your kids make sense of this vitriolic conversation, he also implores you with a final call to action. So this evening, instead of streaming your favorite TV show or movie, gather the family and watch this 18-minute documentary on the discrepancy between white and black America, and then discuss what the implications are for you and your family.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

What Is Gen Z’s Biggest Problem? | June 12, 2020


Three Things This Week

1. Switch Hack
What it is: Have a Nintendo Switch in your home? Nintendo announced this week that 300,000 Switch accounts were hacked in April.
Why it’s time to change the password: They previously believed the hack affected around 160,000 accounts, but after continuing to investigate, they discovered it was much more widespread. Hackers could have spent money at the My Nintendo store, as well as been able to see “a user’s nickname, date of birth, and email address,” according to The Verge. It’s believed to only affect accounts connected to old Nintendo 3DS or Wii U accounts still using the same password, but it’s a good idea to change the password on any Nintendo accounts at this time. If your children are Nintendo users, this is a ripe opportunity to teach them about choosing secure passwords, changing them on a regular basis, and the risks of putting sensitive information online.

2. Connected More Than Ever
What it is: A new report has found that YouTube is still king of streaming video for 4- to 15-year-olds, but TikTok isn’t far behind.
Why it’s eye-opening: Conducted by digital safety company Qustodio from February 2019 to April 2020, the survey compiled anonymous data from 60,000 families in the U.S., U.K., and Spain. It found that kids in the U.S. spend an average of 100 minutes per day on YouTube and 80 minutes per day on TikTok, despite the fact that both apps are supposed to be for ages 13+ (because of COPPA). YouTube Kids, which was designed for children under 13, was only used by 7%, compared with 69% using YouTube. Another key finding was that Roblox is the preferred video game for this demographic, being played 20 minutes longer per day than even Fortnite. Thankfully, the report also comes with plenty of practical advice for parents, so it’s worth taking the time to read.

3. Gen Z’s Biggest Problem
What it is: Youth research from YPulse has discovered what Gen Z believes to be “the biggest problem their generation faces,” and it’s not COVID-19.
Why it matters: The annual survey polled 1000 13- to 37-year-olds, revealing that both young Gen Zers (13- to 18-year-olds) and older Gen Zers (19- to 25-year-olds) think “racism/discrimination” is the biggest problem for their generation, diverging from their Millennial counterparts (26- to 37-year-olds), who ranked COVID-19 as the biggest problem. Perhaps this isn’t surprising since it’s impossible to avoid the cultural moment (even video games have statements in them now). But rather than deciding if they’re right or wrong, let’s choose the third way of seeing the situation, which is that this is very personal to them. We can show them we’re on their side by entering into their world, engaging with what they care about even when it’s tough, and letting our voices be the ones that disciple them.

Spotlight

Many of us have experienced more boredom than we know what to do with during COVID-19, and even as life starts getting back to normal, the issue of boredom remains. Our new Parent’s Guide to Boredom is all about how to help your teen discover why they’re bored and address their deeper longings. If you’re interested in how smartphones alter our experience of downtime and how boredom can actually be a good thing, you can find the guide here!

A Tale of Two Independence Days

History is a funny thing. No matter how we teach it, no matter what we choose to highlight or ignore, no matter how we spin our nation’s story, the fact remains we can’t change the past, we can only learn from it. Unfortunately, we often fail to understand the present because we refuse to tell the truth about our past. That’s why this year in particular, as our nation continues to struggle with racial injustice and deeply rooted prejudice, we must tell the truth about our past, ourselves, and our nation.

89 years after the Founding Fathers declared independence from British rule in 1776, the last Americans finally tasted freedom. And yet it would take another century for African Americans to earn full citizenship status with the end of segregation and the abolition of Jim Crow laws, in what Christianity Today describes as “Justice Too Long Delayed.”

Next Friday, as African Americans gather in parks and homes to celebrate their “Independence Day” from slavery, pause and commemorate the day with your family. Jack Dorsey, the president of Twitter, just announced Juneteenth as a corporate holiday, calling for “a day of celebration, education, and connection.” But for those of us who are white, as our Black brothers and sisters celebrate, maybe a more appropriate response is to spend the day in repentance and lament.

As we mentioned above, this is Gen Z’s biggest issue, so to aid in your family’s commemoration, education, and lamentation, here are three ways to honor this sacred day together.

  1. Pray: Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed by what we have done and what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart: We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent.
  2. Visit: If possible, tour an African American museum to learn more about our nation’s history. Here’s a list of museums around the country.
  3. Watch:
    • 13th (Netflix) by Ava DuVernay details the racial components of the U.S. prison system.
    • Just Mercy(Amazon Prime) is the true story of a lawyer struggling to defend an innocent man sentenced to death row.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

Juneteenth (the forgotten day) | June 5, 2020


Three Things This Week

1. TikTok Racism?
What it is: Users have accused TikTok of censoring and demoting posts from Black creators, and TikTok has apologized…sort of.
Why it’s tense: One TikToker who is new to the platform said, “The most common issue I see happening is Black creators having their posts or accounts shadow-banned and/or randomly deleted for ‘going against community guidelines.’” So Black creators banded together and protested the marginalization on May 19. TikTok’s apology claimed that a “technical error” caused videos using #BlackLivesMatter to appear as if they had zero views and that error affected all hashtags, not just certain ones. However, TikTok’s track record in this area isn’t good, since it admitted in December that it suppressed videos by disabled, queer, and fat creators. If your teens are on TikTok, they won’t have missed this tension, and they may have strong feelings about it they don’t know how to express. They might benefit from having a safe person to talk to.

2. Zynn
What it is: TikTok has been dethroned! An app that is basically TikTok’s clone has topped the charts this week, but its growth isn’t exactly organic.
Why it’s gaining popularity: If you thought TikTok was addictive, you ain’t seen nothin’! Zynn (which is also owned by a Chinese company) employs several subversive tactics for gaining users and hooking them. First, it actually pays its users for referring friends and watching videos. Who wouldn’t choose the app that pays them over the app that, well, doesn’t? Second, they use what’s known in behavioral psychology as “intermittent variable rewards” (the same technique used to hook people on slot machines). Though they’re not the first social media company to employ the technique, they might be the first to combine it with money. Randomly, watching one video is rewarded with more points than usual, keeping users always wondering if the next video will be the jackpot. We predict your teens will be asking to sign up for the app soon.

3. #BlackOutTuesday
What it is: An effort to “raise awareness about police brutality and systemic racism” quickly took hold on social media but then appeared to backfire.
Why it’s confusing: The movement started as #TheShowMustBePaused, which was created by two Black music industry executives to encourage those in the industry to “intentionally disrupt the work week….to take a beat for an honest, reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.” Somehow, it morphed into people simply posting black squares with hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #BlackOutTuesday, then committing to being silent on social media so they could listen and reflect. Activists said this effectively drowned informative, useful posts in a sea of black squares and asked people to stop using them. If your teen joined in the movement, it’s either a sign they care about the movement or that all their friends do and they didn’t want to be left out.

Spotlight

Are you ready to start tackling some of the most pressing issues in Gen Z’s world? Join thousands of other caring adults for our June Webinar Series! We will be offering practical tips and helping you to get a deeper understanding on topics like understanding Gen Z, managing anxiety, spiritual discipline as a family, social media, and so much more! Sign up here!

Juneteenth

In 1619, one year prior to the arrival of the Mayflower on Cape Cod, the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. Kidnapped by Portuguese sailors, these 20 or so individuals were bought by the English settlers and forced into servitude. From this portentous start, the roots of African bondage in America began. In a little over 200 years, some 3,953,760 Blacks were enslaved in the United States in what activist Jim Wallis calls “America’s original sin.” What made slavery in the U.S. different from other historical forms of subjugation was that from the very beginning it was entrenched in Blackness. To be Black meant you were born inferior, born into social, personal, and spiritual chains. Black became synonymous with danger, “thuggery,” and laziness. And unfortunately, many people today still hold these uneducated beliefs.

Sadly, it would take the Civil War and the death of 620,000 Americans at one another’s hands to end chattel bondage. But even then, vestiges of slavery still existed in parts of the United States. Two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation,” Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19, finally freeing the remaining 250,000 slaves. Since then, Juneteenth has been celebrated in African American communities as the oldest official commemoration of the ending of slavery. Today, it serves as a reminder of our checkered past and the 400 years of systemic injustice that Black Americans have had to endure as they continue their fight for equality.

This year, Juneteenth carries even more weight, as America continues her long stride toward freedom. As parents, we have an incredible opportunity to use this special day to educate our children on our nation’s past, even the parts we’d rather not talk about. Listen to Black voices, learn from our national sins, and be humble enough to admit our own prejudices and our own fears. We’ve come a long way as a people, but we have more work to do. May we, the Body of Christ, lead the way toward racial reconciliation, justice, and peace in our nation. Here are five resources to get this difficult conversation started with your kids.

  1. 1. Talking with Your Children About Protests and Racism
  2. 2. A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice
  3. 3. How White Parents Can Talk to Their Kids About Race
  4. 4. Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News
  5. 5. It’s Never Too Early to Talk About Race

 

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

Make Sure You Read This Standing Up | May 29, 2020


This week, enjoy the premium version of The Culture Translator for free! If you’re like many of our readers, The CT helps you have a deeper understanding of your teen’s world each week, but we want to help you to go even deeper. The All Axis Pass, which includes The Culture Translator Premium, is only only $9.99/month for families (or $99/month for churches, schools, and organizations) and will equip you to have meaningful conversations with your teens on a regular basis. Plus, the All Axis Pass gives you access to every single resource we have ever created and will create! Click here to learn more about the All Axis Pass now!

Three Things This Week

1. 16 Money Tips for Graduating Seniors
What it is: Student loans? Credit cards? Rent? Investing? A recent episode from the BiggerPockets Money Podcast helps young people take a practical and economical approach to their futures.
Why it’s useful: 18-year-olds across the country are looking ahead to when they set off on their own and become more financially responsible and independent. But many of them feel unprepared, since personal finance is not usually covered in depth (or at all!) in high school. And often, parents themselves haven’t had to look at things like school loans, tuition payments, housing, the job market, degrees, and more in so long that they’re not prepared to talk about what makes sense in 2020 and beyond. Because the episode is so practical and realistic, we highly recommend taking an hour to listen. But since they do not come from a Christian perspective and they don’t know your child’s specific circumstances, make sure to listen with your seniors so that you can provide guidance and answer questions afterward.

2. Don’t Sit!
What it is: A new study has found that sitting around is linked to higher incidences of symptoms of depression in adolescents, and even an hour of light activity every day can lower their risk for depression.
Why it’s time to move: Perhaps more than ever in history, our lives are built around sitting. We sit to study, use a computer or a device, watch TV or movies, play video games, eat, and travel. We sit at school, at church, in waiting rooms, around a fire…and that’s during normal times! We have all probably found ourselves sitting even more over the last few months. But as the study, which followed more than 4,200 adolescents starting at the age of 12, discovered, “any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial” to mental health. It doesn’t have to be intense activity, so now’s a good time to get the whole family to go on walks, play backyard sports, and ride bikes.

3. The Threat of Invisibility
What it is: In a new exposé, Insider delves into the new breed of child stars that social media, especially TikTok, is creating…and it’s not all fun and games.
Why it’s foreboding: No matter your child’s age or interests, becoming an “influencer” of some sort is likely something they’ve thought about. And even though it’s easier than ever to make it big, the fame is harder than ever to maintain, and none of the negative side effects of being a child star have diminished. In fact, this new type of fame may exacerbate those problems since the praise and adoration come straight to their phones 24/7. So what do the psychologists in the article recommend parents do to help keep their children grounded and potentially avoid the pitfalls of fame? Only what Axis has said all along! “There has to be reasoned and careful conversations around these things,” and we add that they need to start early.

Sounds of Summer

Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, nothing is more reliable and seasonally predictable than the annual release of the summer song. Light, nostalgic, energetic, it makes you feel like you’re on vacation even though you’re still in lock-down. Summer sounds are often as fleeting as the season itself, yet they are created specifically for this epic moment of freedom, fun, and sun. Do you happen to remember the summer songs of your youth? Maybe it was Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind,” Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze,” or Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” Whatever it was, these hits are made to capture hearts, providing the backdrop for that summer crush, that vacation to the beach, or that amazing week at camp. Even today, when that song happens to pop up on Spotify or the radio, it takes you right back to that moment, those smells, and maybe even that first kiss.

So this year, as your teens break out of quarantine, here are the top 8 songs competing for the elusive prize as this summer’s biggest hit. And although many of these songs dropped this spring and have thus slid down The Hot 100 Chart, they are still primed to become that long-remembered, favorite sound of the summer of 2020.

  1. Intentions” by Justin Bieber ft. Quavo: Chill, laid-back song with a beautiful story. Perfect for cruising with the windows and top down.
  2. Baby Girl” (warning: graphic) by Bryce Vine ft. Jeremih: You’ll be hearing this song in your sleep, on repeat.
  3. Yo Perreo Sola”(warning: language) by Bad Bunny: Um, not sure what to say. Your teen will either love or utterly loathe this song by the game-changing Puerto Rican singer and rapper.
  4. Cool” by Dua Lipa: Quintessential sound of the season. It’s our bet to rise back up the charts as the days get hotter and longer.
  5. Savage Remix” (warning:language, lots of language) by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé: This repetitive hit about female empowerment has already sparked viral TikTok dance routines.
  6. Adore You” by Harry Styles: A groovy, feel-good tune that makes the perfect backdrop for a summer fling.
  7. Me & You Together Song” (warning: suggestive) by The 1975: A throwback to the sound of ‘90s pop-rock, this nostalgic hit about unrequited love is sure to pull at your teen’s love-sick heartstrings.
  8.  “F*ck The World (Summer in London)” (warning: graphic language) by Brent Faiyez: With hazy vocals and raw lyrics, this title track from Faiyez’s latest album will appeal to the inner rebel.

8 PREMIUM INSIGHTS

A broader look at the world that teens inhabit.
Skim our summary or click the links to read more.
Engage your teens in conversation about their world.

They said it best:

“If you are a stranger to prayer, you are a stranger to the greatest source of power known to human beings.”—Billy Sunday, Billy Sunday: The Man and His Message

Technology

Apps/Websites

1. Online censorship continues to be a flashpoint in the wider cultural discussion this week. How do tech giants plan to flag disinformation on their platforms without things devolving into a giant, partisan mess? Short answer: As of now, there is no plan. YouTube came under fire this week for accidentally acting as a censorship proxy for the Communist Party of China (CCP), deleting video comments that were critical of that government. This glitch, which users detected as early as October 2019, was only fixed recently. Remind your teen that the sentiments they see expressed on social media are being tampered with and therefore not reflective of reality at large.

2. The “influencer economy” on Instagram has been mostly based off of affiliate links and brand partnerships for the past several years, but now Instagram is looking to shake up this long-standing ecosystem. They are currently testing a program that will pay influencers directly for the content they create on the platform. Influencers and Instagram will split the profits 55/45, which may prove to be quite lucrative for some content creators. This is another step toward legitimizing the “influencer” career path, but it also means that content on IG will become less “authentic” than ever.

Pop Culture

Film/TV/Streaming

3. Television consumption over the past few months has been off the charts, so what has everyone been watching? This list of Gen Z’s & Millennials’ (ages 13 to 37) favorite shows right now may surprise you. The data, collected throughout the month of May, showed that teen mystery drama Outer Banks, family sports drama All American, reruns of NBC’s The Office, animated sitcom Rick and Morty, and nostalgic thriller Stranger Things were the top ranking shows among 13- to 18-year-olds. That’s a pretty wide spectrum of content, showing the diverse tastes of Gen Z.

4. So why are 13- to 18-year-olds so obsessed with the American adaptation of British comedy hit The Office? Though the show came to an end seven years ago, today’s teens have an enduring love for the sitcom. Vanity Fair published a piece last year exploring why Gen Z stars like Billie Eilish find The Office a grounding artifact: It’s comforting in its mundanity and offers a sincere glimpse into a world they’ve heard of but have yet to live inside.

Social Media

5. Would warring factions of TikTok “cults” ever have come to prominence without the lockdown restrictions? The world may never know. Tribes of Gen Zers have flocked to join charismatic, bizarre online gangs with names like “The Step-Chickens.” You may be relieved to read that these “cults” aren’t about religious fervor as much as they are about devotion to a “cult-like” figurehead. That is, they’re less about dogma and more about memes. But some bored teens have flung themselves headfirst into the identity politics of belonging to these seemingly random groups online. Even during a pandemic, it’s clear that teens are very much still hungry for places to belong.

Teen Culture

Latest Statistics

6. With more than 40 million Americans unemployed, summer jobs for teens may be scarce this season. High school and college students are already referring to upcoming months as “The Summer of Nothing” as confusion over lockdown restrictions reigns. But a psychologist quoted in the article points out that having internships and summer jobs deferred does not have to be such a bad thing. Time emptied of obligations can become time to cultivate hobbies, work on developing character, and, for Christians, spend extra time in prayer and meditation. This will require an attitude adjustment—one your teen might not be willing to make until they have grieved the loss of their unfulfilled expectations. Remind your teen that building a summer of productivity and passion projects is still possible, and opportunities will still be waiting on the other side of the warmer months.

Theology

General Observations

7. Jonathan Steingard, frontman of power pop Christian band Hawk Nelson, posted a lengthy note on Instagram announcing that he no longer believes in God. (You would likely recognize Hawk Nelson from their CCM radio hit, “Drops in the Ocean.”) In the heartbreaking post, Jonathan described his faith over the past few years as a slowly unravelling sweater, saying he simply woke up one day to find that he didn’t have any left. Jonathan’s story isn’t the norm, but it’s starting to feel like it as many prominent Christians have followed this trajectory of walking away from their faith. If you want to have a conversation with your teen about this, remind them that they can bring their doubts—about life, about faith, about anything—to you. Creating a safe space for teens to voice their questions about who God is is essential to giving their faith a fighting chance.

Tip of the Week

8. The stark loneliness of digital togetherness has come into sharp contrast over the past three months. FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype simply don’t replace in-person gatherings. Sometimes virtual gatherings even reinforce the feeling of social isolation, according to psychologists who are studying the effects of the pandemic. It’s possible that over the next few months, teens will be less and less inclined to fire up their video chat apps as a deep sense of longing and loss takes over. If your teen has had a mega-dose of screen time from March to May, be ready to break out the family board games and renew the sense of physical connection that your teens may be starving for. This might be your best shot in years at getting your teens to put down their phones and look at each other’s faces.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

Virtual Music Festivals Are Taking Over | May 22, 2020



Three Things This Week

1. Socializing for Senior Citizens 
What it is: Some Atlanta high schoolers have started a new service to help older people find comfort and community during social distancing.
Why it’s beautiful: Sometimes, unprecedented circumstances beget unprecedented kindness. Instead of focusing on what they’ve lost or how their lives have been disrupted, these students looked beyond themselves to others in need, recognizing that there may be populations that have it worse than they do. Their service offers Zoom or FaceTime chatting, phone calls, virtual game nights, handwritten cards, and more to senior citizens, especially those who don’t have significant others or family members. According to their website, they did 6,475 minutes of calls and sent 381 emails or cards in the first 6 weeks. Whether they realize it or not, these teenagers are modeling a servant’s heart, living out “the golden rule” in ways we should all seek to emulate during these stressful times.

2. Block by Blockwest
What it is: The world’s first virtual music festival occurred over the weekend on Minecraft, of all places, and by all accounts, it was a massive success.
Why it’s probably not the last: Riffing off of the popular IRL festival South by Southwest, BXBW was started by the band Courier Club as a way to promote their first EP, but the virtual festival evolved into a much larger endeavor after technical setbacks caused a delay and allowed well-known artists to join the setlist. Artists pre-recorded their sets, while developers and players joined together to build out the server with three stages, “bars,” art, and much more. When it finally happened on May 16, it reportedly drew in 5,000 Minecraft players and 134,000 livestream views on Twitch and YouTube. Because it was so well thought out and immersive, the idea is sure to be replicated in the future, and not just on Minecraft, meaning your kids may have virtual access to something they might never have attended in person before.

3. Sorry about My Hair
What it is: As everyone spends more time in video calls, women feel the pressure to apologize for their appearance.
Why it’s just a symptom: Women feeling like they have to earn their place in this world through their looks is not a new problem, but video chatting may exacerbate it since it adds the new element of seeing our own faces during conversations and meetings. With our faces now front and center, it can be hard to focus on what’s being said or taught. As the article points out, women of all ages are asking others to ignore their “flaws,” aiming the camera elsewhere so they don’t show up, and using Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” feature to meet whatever arbitrary standards they think they need to meet. Teenagers especially are used to using Snapchat-style filters and makeup to look better on screen, so they may need our loving reminders that they’re beautiful always and that they never need to apologize for how they look.

Spotlight

During this time of uncertainty, when the future is unknown and anxiety and fear threaten to take over, we and our teens are much more susceptible to spiritual attack. We want to equip you and your family with the tools necessary to fight back, so we’re offering you our Spiritual Warfare Conversation Kit absolutely free! Simply fill out the form, then follow the instructions to watch the Kit with your family. We hope it blesses you and those whom you disciple.

Discipling Your Teen in Quarantine

If COVID-19 has revealed anything about us as parents, it might be this: Most of us have grown accustomed to and comfortable with outsourcing our children’s spiritual formation to the Church or Christian school. If we’re honest, we’ve probably relied a bit too much on the youth pastor, the Bible teacher, or the Church to shape the minds and hearts of our kids. But now, school is closed, church is mostly suspended, and it is suddenly up to us to form them spiritually. If you are struggling to re-claim your role as their trusted guide, here are five tips to help you redeem this quarantine time.

  1. 1. Talk the Talk: As we’ve said for several years at Axis, discipleship happens where conversations happen. Regardless of the topic, authentic conversations lead to faith-forming opportunities. So keep those conversations going. And remember, as you engage with your kids on everything from sports to social distancing, you won’t agree on everything. That’s okay! Lean into the tension and humbly ask what you can learn from them in the process.
  2. 2. Walk the Walk: Our kids are always watching, always learning, always soaking in what we do, not just what we say. If the news is causing you anxiety and fear, odds are they are learning to be anxious and fearful themselves. If the stay-at-home orders are breeding arguments, family feuds, and fights, their future home will look likewise. It’s simple (yet difficult): Be the adult you want your kid to become.
  3. 3. Schedule the Sacred: We’ve all been given a great gift: time. Instead of rushing to work or school, we now have time in the morning to come together to read Scripture, pray, and experience the sacred. You don’t have to do it every day, but schedule regular moments to gather for five or ten minutes. Read through one of the gospels one chapter at a time. Then discuss what you read. It doesn’t need to be overly scholarly, just allow them the space to process God’s Word with you.
  4. 4. Have One-on-One Time: If you have more than one child, pick an evening or morning during the week to take a walk with each child, just the two of you. Or if the weather is bad, hit a coffee shop’s drive-through for a tasty treat. These intentional moments alone together will build trust, foster intimacy, and show them you are a safe place to come to with their hopes, dreams, and questions.
  5. 5. Take Off the (Figurative) Mask: You aren’t perfect. Trust us, your kids already know it, so be honest and transparent about your issues. If you mess up, own it and ask for forgiveness. A sure sign of spiritual maturity is learning to admit you don’t have it all together. If you are open about your failings, they will be more willing to share theirs.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

Is Your Teen a “None”? | May 15, 2020


Three Things This Week

1. Failure to Launch
What it is: In a new interview on The Art of Manliness podcast, family clinical psychologist Mark McConville offers perspective from his years of practice on how to help adolescents successfully transition to adulthood.
Why it’s timely: As “graduations” occur all across the country, parents everywhere are looking ahead to the fall when their teenagers begin college and their college graduates theoretically set off on their own. How do I help them make good decisions? Have I prepared them to handle their new responsibilities well? What if they don’t take initiative? These are all great questions to be asking, and this summer is the perfect time to really make sure they have the tools and skills needed to make the transition. Take 50 minutes to listen to the episode, then ask your graduate what about their newfound independence they’re looking forward to and what makes them apprehensive.

2. Remaking Religion?
What it is: In recently published research and commentary, Stanford University’s iGen Project has found that Gen Z is the least religious generation and that they are “remaking religion to suit their values.”
Why it’s reflective: We’ve known for awhile, thanks to Pew Research, that “nones”—those who don’t identify with any religion—are on the rise in the U.S. But as iGen notes, many of the Gen Z nones “still believe in God, or say they are open to spirituality.” So why are they choosing not to identify with any religious tradition? The research team says their response to religion is partially due to “the values [they] associate with organized worship. Some mention intolerance or dogmatism; others raise sexism and homophobia.” If this is what they associate with religion, then how are we, as parents, educators, pastors, volunteers, and youth workers, daily showing our Gen Zers that that perception is wrong?

3. Talking about Ahmaud Arbery
What it is: The death of Ahmaud Arbery(language) is sparking outrage, grief, and even more political division all over the country, and as our friends at Family Life point out, this is not the time to be silent.
Why teens need us to talk about it: If our Gen Zers have phones or friends with phones or access to the Internet in any way, odds are they’ve heard about the incident. And how we do or do not react speaks volumes to them. They need us to help them process everything, including and especially all the outrage and new details that keep coming to light. They need us to show them how to weep with those who weep while still seeking justice and defending the oppressed. They need us to model the heart of God by caring about all people, even those who have done wrong. Our world is broken and messy, and we will tremendously help our kids by having a nuanced approach to a horrible situation.

Spotlight

Did you know that you can have full access to our library of parenting & discipleship resources for only $9.99 per month? Invest in building lifelong faith in the next generation and start amazing conversations with the All Axis Pass today!

You Deserve a Break Today

Depending on where you live, school is either permanently closed or you only have a few more weeks of homeschooling to go. Regardless, the last two months of working from home, teaching your kids, and relearning how to do algebra have almost every parent on edge! If your home looks anything like ours, stress levels are up, arguments have increased, and everyone is in need of a little social distancing from each other. We all need a summer break, but with travel restrictions and a struggling economy, that family vacation is probably out of the question. Now what?

To help navigate a long and uncertain summer, here are a few tips to maintain your family’s mental health. First, keep a structure, but make it flexible. It might help to make a schedule each week that builds in chore time, dinner time, screen time, playtime, exercise, bedtime, and “leave me alone” time. Setting aside time for each activity signals that it’s ok to do each thing, but keeping it flexible makes it clear that each person’s individual needs will be taken into account.

Second, get out that old board game and strike up a friendly family competition. This will not only bring your family together, but it will also scratch that competitive itch your kids might not have been able to scratch by playing their favorite sport. Third, limit exposure to the news. Constantly tuning in to your favorite pundit will only further exacerbate everyone’s anxiety levels.

Finally, if you are married, carve out time for you and your spouse to be alone together. With everyone confined in the house at all times, it’s hard to break away and pour into your marriage. Schedule a stay-at-home date night for just you and your spouse. And if you are a single parent, don’t feel guilty about creating time for yourself. Everyone needs some solitude right now, especially if you are the sole breadwinner, school teacher, and peanut butter and jelly maker. Take a walk, run a bath, or just close your door and breathe.

We’re all running on fumes, and this summer promises to be unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before, possibly taking even more of a toll. Take care of yourself and your family by practicing these simple suggestions. And remember, this too shall pass.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.

Our Top 10 Book Picks | May 8, 2020

Three Things This Week

1. DIY FTW
What it is: Stuck at home, Gen Z has started a trend in DIY fashion, turning to upcycling and customizing clothing as a way to pass the time.
Why it’s a great pastime: 30% of Gen Z reports taking up entirely new hobbies during the quarantine, higher than any other generation. Gen Z reports high concern for environmental impact and sustainability, so it’s no surprise many of them have turned to reusing and selling clothing (Depop is a current fav “thrifting” app). But beyond simply refusing to partake in the waste that fast fashion is known for, the trend is good for other reasons, like encouraging creativity, expression, and learning helpful skills like sewing and marketing. If your teens are struggling to find things to do and/or have expressed interest in fashion, this could be a great project to tackle together, whether you already know how to sew or would learn together.

2. Digital Well-Being Guidelines
What it is: Because technology has become even more important during these times, The Center for Humane Technology has released guidelines to help families as we struggle to keep our tech use in balance.
Why they’re so needed: Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why we’ve all become even more reliant on our screens. Unlike in the past, social distancing doesn’t have to mean isolation because we have incredible tools like the Internet, video chatting, and social media. So it’s understandable and perfectly fine if we’ve seen our family’s and our own screen time skyrocket lately. But these guidelines remind us that technology is not neutral, that the companies behind our apps and devices stand to profit from our increased use, and that too much time can negatively shape their developing brains. Take the time to read all eight, noting the helpful questions for each one, so that you can better steward your and your family’s time.

3. Perfect Me
What it is: A free “body editor” app that promises to “perfect” and “beautify” one’s appearance in photos and videos (including live videos).
Why it’s gross: The app doesn’t just remove “blemishes” or make waists thinner, it also adds tattoos, completely alters face shape, changes skin tone, and makes legs look longer, all in real-time. One fitness influencer tried the app and candidly remarked that she “felt awful” once she saw her real face again, highlighting how easily the app can distort a user’s perception of themselves and what’s beautiful. But even if your teens haven’t used this app or one similar (like FaceTune), they’re still being influenced by it, since most of the images and videos they see on social media are edited in one way or another. This is a good reminder that teens need frequent encouragement that they are beautiful exactly as they are; they don’t need “perfecting,” “editing,” “fixing,” or “touching up.”

Spotlight

Do you ever feel like trying to have meaningful conversations with the next generation is like pulling teeth? You aren’t alone! The All Axis Pass is your key to transforming family conversations into the highlight of everyone’s day, and it’s now more affordable than ever. You can join the All Axis Pass community for only $9.99/month! Get unlimited access to our full library of resources and start having meaningful conversations today.

Summer Book Club

By now, your kids have probably watched all 14 bazillion hours of streaming video that Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have to offer. Instead of searching for that next show to binge during the lockdown, what about encouraging them to go old school by reading a book? After all, summer is upon us, and there’s nothing better than lying under a shade tree with a great book. And while C.S. Lewis or Dietrich Bonhoeffer are always wonderful reads, this year, encourage your teen to read something new. Here’s our list of top 10 spiritual formation books by authors your teen may have never read before. Start your own book club by reading along and discussing these works together.

  1. 1. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. The challenge to love as God loves and to forgive as God forgives is the central theme of this emotional masterpiece.
  2. 2. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Written in the 17th Century, this classic continues to help believers see the sacred in everyday life.
  3. 3. Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. An approachable look at living a liturgical life.
  4. 4. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. The amazing story of a heroine of the Dutch Resistance who helped Jews escape the Nazis and became one of the most remarkable evangelists of the 20th century.
  5. 5. Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman. This book is the centerpiece of Thurmon’s lifelong attempt to bring the harrowing beauty of the African-American experience into deep engagement with what he called “the religion of Jesus.”
  6. 6. Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Joan Chittister. Prayer, work, and holy leisure are the characteristics of Benedictine life. Chittister shows how one can live into these ancient ways of being in the modern world.
  7. 7. The Scandal of Redemption by Oscar Romero. To commemorate 40 years since the assassination of Archbishop Romero, read his thought-provoking work on justice and the heart of God.
  8. 8. Strength to Love by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you only read one book by Dr. King, make it this one, as he weaves together his theology of nonviolence and enemy love in the midst of racial oppression.
  9. 9. The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. One of the most creative autobiographical sketches ever produced. Merton’s path from prodigal son to sainthood is a transformative journey.
  10. 10. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. Part memoir, part meditation, this thought-provoking record of a married Protestant woman’s time spent in a community of monks will inspire anyone seeking a more meaningful life in the modern world.

Keep the Faith!

The Axis Team

Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.