Vol. 5, Issue 8 | February 22, 2019
Three Things This Week
1. Ariana Mania
What it is: This week, Ariana Grande became the first artist since the Beatles in 1964 to hold the top 3 spots on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Why she’s a teacher: The songs are from her newest album, which came only five months after announcing she’d be taking a break. As the most successful female artist rn, she has a voice, a presence, an influence that’s larger than life. And while she’s surprisingly scandal free despite coming to the spotlight at a young age (20) and has weathered some intense tragedies (Manchester bombing, ex-boyfriend’s overdose) with grace, the 25-year-old isn’t problem free. In these three songs alone, she preaches her ideas of success and friendship (“7 Rings”), how to handle break ups (“thank u, next”), and sexuality (“Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”). If your teens breathe, they know about her music. Her sexy, self-confident, female empowered persona is influencing the next generation. If you don’t believe us, just ask them!
2. TikTok’s Cool Girl
What it is: Popular lip-syncing app TikTok has birthed a new kind of cool girl: the egirl.
Why she matters: As this article (language) explains, “She’s funny, she’s cute, she’s totally ‘90s, and she knows exactly how to play with expectations.” Currently, the phenomenon is mostly confined to the app and seems to be “a counter to the polished, Facetuned Instagram influencer,” though it’s not without its own dose of irony since egirls are becoming the influencers of TikTok. We highly recommend reading the whole article to get an idea of who they are, what they’re about, why they exist, and how others treat them (check out our Parent’s Guide to TikTok, too!), then ask your kids if they’re familiar with the trend. What do they think about egirls? About TikTok? About going viral and gaining followers? About joining a trend simply to gain followers?
3. Teen Digital Detox
What it is: After researching the effects of social media for a school project, a 16-year-old HS sophomore created a week-long digital detox movement for her peers that starts Feb. 25.
Why it’s helpful: In a recent podcast interview, Natalie explains that she set out to better understand exactly how her generation’s acceptance of and reliance on social media is impacting them, concluding that intentionality is key to using it well. But sometimes, it’s such a part of our daily routines and habits that we don’t even realize exactly how much time we devote to it. Her solution, a temporary digital detox, is intended as a reset so that teens can gain perspective and start in a more healthy place. Listen to the interview with your kids and get their reactions to it. If they’re not opposed, offer to help them join the digital detox and think through better boundaries for afterward.
Parent Guide Spotlight: Ah, it’s that time of year when teenagers and college students begin anticipating their mid-semester break, many of them hoping to let off steam and forget all their stress. Seems fair, right? Over the years, though, those desires have morphed into the modern “Spring Break Phenomenon,” aka a loving parent’s worst nightmare. For info on how this came to be, why it’s appealing to teens and 20-somethings, and how to have deep conversations about it before it happens, check out our Parent’s Guide to Spring Break.
Sex Ed IRL
Colorado’s legislature is moving to ban abstinence-only sex education in both public and charter schools across the state. Many students like 9th grader Clark Wilson, who testified last month in support of the bill, want more holistic instruction on sexuality to include conversations about consent, sexual orientation, gender identity, and safe sex. Unfortunately, studies suggest certain abstinence-only curricula centered in fear and shame actually increase teen pregnancy rates.
Wilson lamented that his teacher used shame-based analogies to discourage sexual activity: “People are like tape, and once they have sex they’re dirty and can’t have meaningful relationships.” Other students we’ve talked to said their teachers or pastors likened them to a “chewed-up piece of gum,” “damaged goods,” or a “flower that had been plucked” if they had already engaged in sexual activity. This language is degrading, dehumanizing, and leads students to a distorted belief that sex is dirty. Many female students have also pointed out that their sexual education disproportionately burdened them with the responsibility of controlling male sexual behavior. The underlying assumption is that boys can’t control themselves and girls are “to blame” if sexual activity goes too far, leading many girls to believe if they were raped, it was somehow their fault. How horrendous.
It’s obvious teenagers need and deserve healthier ways of learning about their burgeoning sexuality beyond this current “either/or” scenario. If we don’t do it, they’ll find their answers elsewhere, like via YouP*rn’s new app designed to deliver hard core p*rn directly to a smartphone without leaving a trace. God created sex to express the beautiful, intimate union possible between a husband and wife. It’s a good gift. Our bodies are a sacrament, a “sacred threshold” deserving respect, dignity, and knowledge. If we don’t teach our kids the sacred source of their sexual desires, they will continue to perpetuate the dissociative, harmful response of believing human sexuality and their bodies are something to fear and be ashamed of. As parents, it’s our role to educate, model, and cultivate a Christ-centered understanding of sexuality that helps our children see why sex within marriage is God’s best expression of physical intimacy, while also giving them the tools and information needed to understand and honor their body. In so doing, we can become the best, most consistent voice concerning sex, thereby minimizing the impact of other types of sex education in their lives.
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