Vol. 3 Issue 49 | December 8, 2017

Vol. 3 Issue 49 | December 8, 2017

Three Things This Week

1. 13 Songs of 2017

What it is: As the year comes to a close, everyone’s looking back on what happened in order to predict what will be. This article from GQ (language!), though crass, offers major insight to the music scene.

Why it's illuminating: It’s crazy how quickly we adults become “uncool” and out of touch. And in this streaming, digital world, the rate at which this happens is only increasing. So if you had any moments over the last year when your teen mentioned an artist or song you’ve never heard of OR when you questioned how they could possibly listen to “this trash” (as one of our staff had asked of him when he was a teen), this list is for you. Whether or not your teens can articulate why an artist or style is trending, they are regardless being influenced by the sounds, lyrics, and artists. Jay-Z says he makes music in order to “start a dialogue” between disparate people groups which can lead to mutual understanding (see below). Listen to your kids music, and use it as an opportunity to start a conversation with them about the meaning and impact their favorite songs have on them.

2. Gone Gomez

What it is: On Tuesday, singer and most-followed person on Instagram Selena Gomez switched her account to private.

Why it's revolutionary: Gomez is at what seems like the top of her career. She was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year and Spotify’s third-most-streamed woman in 2017, among other accomplishments. So why make a move that, in essence, makes her less visible? Though she has yet to comment directly, she’s been open in the past about needing to take breaks from social media. Her example is a great way to start a conversation about social media and celeb culture with your teens: What do you think about her making it private? Is she blowing something out of proportion? Should she just be ok with 130 million people having such intimate access to her life?

3. Messenger Kids

What it is: Facebook recently released an iOS test of its new app, Messenger Kids, aimed at children ages 6-12 (it’s illegal to have a regular FB account before the age of 13).

Why it’s tricky: Surprisingly, the app sounds like it will actually be safe and a fun way for kids to keep in touch with loved ones. There won’t be any ads or in-app purchases, it’s designed to be compliant with COPPA, and parents have a lot of control over who and what a child can see or display (to use it, at least one parent must have a FB account). Yet it’s not all rainbow and butterfly face filters: On what device is a young child supposed to use the app? And doesn’t this just make parents and kids more dependent on FB, starting at even younger ages?

Bonus: Did you miss the even more in-depth look at the app in this week’s edition of the always-excellent Culture Insider? Sign up now and never miss a thing!


The Secret Sauce of Conversation?

We’ve been hearing from a lot of you lately that it’s hard to find time and non-cheesy ways to start conversations with teens, especially about tough subjects. Trust us, we feel you. #TeensAreScary (Imagine that being said by Jim Gaffigan). Actually, that’s often the problem: We let our fear of awkwardness, confrontation, disagreement, or even rejection keep us from broaching certain (ok, let’s be real: most) subjects.

In a fascinating interview with T Magazine, rapper Jay-Z said something profound: You have to talk about things because “what you reveal, you heal.” He explained that it’s impossible to rid a body of a tumor if you don’t know it’s there. You have to first find it in order to operate on it. And it’s the same for our teens: If we don’t have a continual dialogue with them, we won’t know what “tumors” start growing in and slowly eat away at their faith and humanity.

So rather than some magic formula, we believe that the secret sauce for talking with teens is simply creating a nonjudgmental environment, embracing the awkwardness, and starting the conversation. Constantly. About anything and everything. Especially when it makes us uncomfortable or we disagree with our teens.

But the extra-secret sauce is even more important: Intentionally building a loving relationship with your kids based on trust, honesty, and dignity.

As our kids get older, it can be easy to only talk to them when we want to teach them something or when they get it wrong. But when our relationships are built around experiencing all facets of life together, these interactions become much more organic and genuine, leading to greater receptivity from our teens when we do offer guidance. Legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano offers 3 ways to do this in his 1993 Espy Award speech.

To help get you ready for those conversations, we recommend watching the full interview with Jay-Z with the goal of simply listening and learning without judgement. Notice how calmly he discusses the volatile subject of racism, and how skillfully and peacefully he engages divisive topics with wisdom and understanding—a skill we all could hone better. You will probably not agree with everything Jay-Z says, but use the video as a learning laboratory to process how to effectively start conversations with your kids that lead to understanding, empathy, and compassion.

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