Vol. 4 Issue 12 | March 23, 2018
Three Things This Week
1. Everybody Hates Me
Why it’s tricky: The real question here is simple. Is this song descriptive or prescriptive? Are they communicating how things are or how they should be? The duo dealt with a lot of “haters” (critics, listeners, and other EDM artists—language in both articles) over the years, so they seem to be describing their current reality. With lyrics like “I’m just trying to stay normal now that they know what my name is,” it’s clear they’re feeling the pressure. On the other hand, how many teens will hear this song and relate to it? If the pervasive internet voices are right (just KYS), teens are struggling with extreme anxiety. Thankfully, the internet isn’t right, but when the world in which a teen spends the most time keeps repeating they aren’t measuring up, that their life is meaningless, will they know it’s not true? Or will they find songs like this that only reinforce the false narrative?
2. Holy Week
What it is: The most sacred time in the Christian year as believers join Jesus on the journey to Jerusalem (starts Sun, Mar 25!).
Why it’s formative: It’s an opportunity to re-enact the story we know so well and perhaps teach our teens something new. Ask them why Jesus was such a threat to the religious and political leaders of His day? What is the real meaning of the cross? Ultimately, the cross is the place where we see the character of God on full display: a God who chose to suffer in order to save, to die instead of kill. The cross therefore isn’t simply something God did for us; it is the example of how we are to live today. Help your teens model this cruciform way of life. “Do you want glory? You have to humble yourself. Do you want to be first? You have to be last. Do you want to live? You have to die.” Check out our Parent’s Guide to Holy Week & Easter for more!
What it is: A new campaign to bring awareness to and end human trafficking.
Why it’s timely: Part of remembering Jesus’ sacrifice next week should be to open our eyes to those who are hurting, because we worship the suffering servant. On the cross Jesus took on undeserved torment in total solidarity with all the world’s pain. Jesus is overtly on the side of the marginalized and mistreated because he was marginalized and mistreated. The #CanYouSeeMe campaign offers ways for those of us who aren’t suffering to identify and report individuals who are. Picking up your cross and following him means joining him in complete unity with those being victimized. Encourage your teens to engage in this movement, and in so doing they will be sharing not only in Christ’s pain, but also in the joy of his work to renew all things.
“What My Parents Don’t Know about Social Media Is . . .”
Don’t you want to know how your teens (or pre-teens) complete that sentence? We sure would!
A teacher in Utah recently asked her 9th-grade students to anonymously do just that, and what they wrote was eye-opening and heartbreaking. For starters, many students said they have accounts they’re not supposed to, and they’re on social media until the wee hours of the morning. One student said, “You can send nudes, receive nudes, sext, buy drugs, password [protect] pictures, delete texts, buy bongs, pipes, hookah” all while sitting in the privacy of your own room.
Surprisingly (or not?), about 82% of the students mentioned keeping some sort of social media secret from their parents. As the teacher wrote, “They carry these heavy secrets that come with deep emotions, but aren’t learning the appropriate outlets for that emotion, and they aren’t learning how to get secrets off their chests.”
So how should we respond?
By practicing our “not shocked” faces. You see, the teacher who wrote the article is quite alarmed by her findings, but her knee-jerk reaction (“Your teenager DOES NOT NEED a smartphone”) may not be all that helpful. As parents, instead of reacting out of fear or shock, let’s pretend we’re not surprised at all. Because we really shouldn’t be. Then we can deal with the situation appropriately because we’re thinking straight and creating space to allow our kids to talk to us about anything, even the things we wish they hadn’t done or seen.
Technology in and of itself isn’t the real problem. The dangerous mix happens when our kids, who are already living through incredible physical, emotional and biochemical changes, engage a powerful and potentially destructive tool without training, wisdom, and boundaries. But it’s never too late to change how our kids engage social media and smartphones. Just as God never gives up on us, we can’t give up on them. There’s always hope, even if we have to go through a lot of frustration to get to a point of restoration and healing. Keep fighting for them. Continue being your child’s advocate, especially in regards to their use and potential abuse of social media.
A highly curated list of changes in student culture that happened this week!
They said it best:
1. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth …”
–Robert Frost. World Poetry Day was Wednesday, March 21. Above is the beginning of Robert Frost’s most well-known and, interestingly, perhaps his most misunderstood work. Correspondence between Frost and a friend reveal he actually meant it as a joke. Has your teen heard this poem? Did they like it and what about it did they like? If they didn’t get the joke, how do they feel about the poem’s true origins? Does it change their feelings about it or does it not matter? Do your teens think there are other areas in life where context and intention should matter, or is it always up to us to create meaning for things?
Very good, but cursed
2. If you need to be stoned while you are parenting, then successfully raising your kids is probably the least of your problems. However, for those parents who are trying to shepherd their kids in a responsible manner, the problem of drugs isn’t going away. From increasing marijuana legalization to the opioid crisis, it’s something we have to deal with. The Axis Conversation Kit on Drugs can help get you started.
3. In case you missed it, Facebook had a bit of a rough week. It was discovered that a data analytics firm had accessed around 50 million users’ data to create psychographic profiles in order to try to influence those users’ thinking. Some people are arguing that the biggest problem is that this was someone using Facebook as it was meant to be used, at least in regards to data collection.
4. It’s still somewhat possible to use Facebook well by setting the privacy controls properly. That’s something teens should take seriously. But the other important things for teens to learn is an old lesson: They are in control of their privacy (for the most part) online. They can decide what to post, snap, ‘gram, tweet, or message. And if it’s something that the whole world doesn’t need to know or that some analytics firm doesn’t need to know, then they maybe shouldn’t share it. Because someone is always watching. Last, you and your teens can always—gasp!—delete Facebook.
5. This Saturday, the 24th, many students across the country will be taking part in the #MarchForOurLives. Regardless of any politics, the whole thing is a complicated issue. Unfortunately it’s one that we can’t ignore. Our teens are definitely thinking about it. Perhaps start by asking their thoughts. Then help them see that, despite recent best efforts in media or online to paint everything as black and white, there is usually a third way—a way that doesn’t depict someone who disagrees with us as a raving lunatic. It is possible to have civil and productive debates that just may lead to an agreement, one that isn’t based on polar extremes but instead somewhere in the middle.
6. We know that there are hurting people out there, but especially as teens, we don’t always know how to help. But here’s the trick: We don’t have to have some kind of special skill to help. In fact, often times we can help by doing things we like. For example, this young woman’s love of slacklining has taken her to some of the world’s most conflicted places to help kids hurt by conflict. Encourage you teens to think about how they can use the things they already enjoy to reach those in need.
7. We all desire to connect with our children. Are we willing to be flexible on the terms of those connections? This dad thought that playing video games would be similar to how he grew up playing with his brothers. But what he found instead was a whole different world. If we’re willing, connection with our kids just might come in ways we don’t expect.
8. This is a new trailer for The Avengers. It’s already the superhero movies with the highest number of presale tickets, beating out Black Panther. Marvel continues to lead this genre. What makes superheroes so attractive to your teen?
As a reminder that good things are still happening, here are two nice stories:
9. Teens get a bad rap sometimes as slovenly, self-centered individuals, but one teen girl is busting that stereotype. Even better, someone noticed her kindness and posted it online, where it went viral, and the teen ended up getting a scholarship to a local college. Nice!
10. As proof that social media isn’t always bad, here’s another pleasant story of how a wrong-number text and a viral Twitter post raised tens of thousands of dollars for a young boy with leukemia. Maybe there is hope yet for Twitter and its tweeters?
Christianity and faith
11. “Outside things are beginning to bloom, the world is coming to life again, but inside it may still feel like winter—like a long, dark, bleak winter. But the good news is: Spring is coming, and indeed is slowly arriving even now, and with that spring comes renewal and new life and glory. And as in Narnia, spring doesn’t arrive via our own efforts. Spring is coming because Aslan is on the move, because Jesus is King” A concluding thought from the Axis Parent Guide to Holy Week and Easter, which is available for free to CI subscribers. Even as we face trials and difficulties in our lives, this coming week we remember that hope is springing forth, even now. (Soon, The Culture Insider is going to become The Culture Translator Premium where you’ll be able to expect more free bonuses like this guide!)
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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