Vol. 4 Issue 01 | January 5, 2018

Vol. 4 Issue 01 | January 5, 2018

Three Things This Week

1. Roses are Georgia Red

What it is: The Georgia Bulldogs won the Rose Bowl in an historic come-from-behind win against the Oklahoma Sooners on New Year’s Day.

Why it's a teachable moment: OU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield was in the spotlight again for his brash, trash-talking antics. Up big in the first-half, Mayfield taunted Georgia with a throat-slashing gesture yelling “it’s over”. Well, it wasn’t over. The Dawgs growled back for the win, prompting a Georgia linebacker to yell “humble yourself” over and over again to Mayfield as he exited the field. For much of his career Mayfield has personified the machismo culture so prevalent in sports that celebrates dominance and self-glorification. The ego hates failure and vulnerability, and boys especially are trained by culture to reject weakness. But as Yoda recently reminded us, “the greatest teacher, failure is.” In fact, failure often leads to transformation because most of us won’t ever change until we have to. So, when your teen fails at sports or in school, embrace it, learn from it, and don’t let them mask weakness with false bravado. Because “in the divine economy of grace, it is imperfection, sin, and failure” that are the raw material for redemption and restoration.

2. The End of the F**ing World

What it is: I’m James. I’m 17. And I’m pretty sure I’m a psychopath.” That’s the opening line from Netflix’s new series that reviewers are calling “a violent, un-nostalgic look at teens on the run” (warning: graphic language).

Why it's troubling: Premiering today, this sure to be cult classic takes antiheroes to another level, as James and Alyssa (the new moody girl at school) hit the road in search of her real father. What develops is a story of two characters who are both “reprehensible and totally sympathetic.” And that’s the catch. Students will relate to James and Alyssa because they are flawed, rebellious, complex, and funny. But in this case, James takes the archetypal antihero to an extreme. Ask your teen who their favorite antiheroes are, and why they root for them even though they are often unethical and self-serving. Also, check out our brand new Parent’s Guide to Antiheroes to learn more about why students love these characters.

3. What to Expect in 2018

What it is: Last year, our community of “CT” readers grew from 19,000 subscribers to 38,000! And, thanks to your financial partnership, we were able to keep the “CT” free. Thank you!

Why it's exciting: As we dive into the new year, we know it’s full of hope, but we also realize it will bring its own challenges (Logan Paul, Twitch, and your brain on binge). Just know we will be right here with you every week, providing the timely content you’ve come to expect to help you start incredible conversations with your kids. You might notice a new format this year, as well as a new premium version of The Culture Translator providing more than just three to four items per week. You can upgrade your experience today! Plus, we’d love to hear from you about what topics we should talk about more in the new year. Email me directly at garyalan@axis.org. Thanks for allowing us to be part of your journey as you navigate the teen years with your kids one conversation at a time!


Prepare the Child for the Path . . .

Season 4 of the controversial show Black Mirror released to Netflix recently, bringing with it more disturbing-yet-not-unrealistic portrayals of what might lie in our not-so-distant future. Episode 2, titled “Arkangel,” is no exception.

The old adage “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child” becomes painfully relevant when single mom Marie makes the drastic decision to have an experimental device, the “Arkangel,” implanted into her 3-year-old daughter Sarah’s head after nearly losing her one day. The device, which connects to a tablet, allows Marie to track her daughter’s location, monitor her vital signs and overall health, see what she’s seeing in real time, and “filter” (blur) Sarah’s vision if something is too scary or graphic. As you might imagine, this is morally ambiguous at best and highly controlling at worst, causing many problems for Sarah as she grows up.

Yet Marie’s motivation is good. She loves her daughter and wants to protect her. She doesn’t want to lose her again, nor have her be exposed to inappropriate things—something every parent can relate to! Most of us would do anything to keep our kids from experiencing the worst the world has to offer! The story is a painful-yet-poignant look at what happens when we allow fear and control to supplant conversation, discipleship, and trust.

Whether or not you decide to watch the episode, it does bring up interesting questions that every parent should be asking.

  • Am I teaching my kids that actions have consequences? Or am I sheltering them from all consequences and responsibility in an effort to protect them? How can I improve in this area?
  • How much freedom is too much freedom and am I allowing my teen to develop an appropriate level of indepence?
  • How much does fear dictate how I parent?
  • Do your kids believe you are safe, that you are the best person to come to when things go wrong?
  • What is the ideal role of filters in my home? Have I allowed them to do my work for me so I never have talk to my kids about difficult, uncomfortable, or scary subjects? Or do I use filters as needed but continue conversing with my kids about what they’re facing? How could I do this better in the future?
  • Who and/or what is discipling my kids? Am I the primary source of discipleship? Or are there other influences that speak louder and are more relatable than me?
  • Am I quick to adopt a new technology without thinking through its ramifications? How could this be affecting my children without me realizing it?
  • Am I modeling healthy habits when it comes to technology and media consumption?

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