Vol. 5, Issue 13 | March 29, 2019
Three Things This Week
1. 17 + 2
What it is: Two more Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have died—this time by suicide.
Why it’s heartbreaking: Recent graduate Sydney Aiello and current sophomore Calvin Desir both died by suicide within days of one another. Experts believe PTSD and “suvivor’s guilt” may have been the cause. Since the coping mechanisms in teen brains are not fully developed enough to deal robustly with trauma, they need our help processing and healing from emotional and physical wounds. Your child needn’t be involved in a school shooting to experience suffering: a bad break-up, abuse, the death of a loved one, and bullying can all trigger unhealthy emotional responses. Here are five ways you can help your teen survive and grow from traumatic experiences.
What it is:A film about the true story of Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood clinic director who became staunchly pro-life, releases to theaters today.
Why it’s promising: We haven’t seen it, so we can’t speak to its quality, but we do think it has the potential to start some really good conversations by confronting some hard realities. It’s rated R for “some disturbing/bloody images”—a move by the MPAA that the filmmakers say “seems to be indirectly endorsing the pro-life position: namely that abortion is an act of violence”—so, ironically, “many teenage women in this country who can legally obtain an actual abortion without parental permission will be prohibited from going to see [Unplanned]…without obtaining parental permission.” If you decide to take your kids to it, make sure to have a holistic conversation about the sanctity of every human life. A couple questions to ponder: Just because we’re opposed to abortion, does that make us “pro-life”? What other beliefs or policies do we support that may call our “pro-life” morality into question? Why does that matter?
3. Homework Reform?
What is it: Asking whether it has the intended consequences, The Atlantic examines something most of us take for granted: homework.
Why it might matter to your teens: For today’s students, homework is part of the syllabus, not merely something that happens if they’re not diligent during class. The idea is that the more they study and practice, the better test scores they get, the better they do in college, the better jobs they get, etc. But could that approach be stifling creativity and a love of learning, excluding different learning styles, and defining success too narrowly? (Not to mention all the stress it causes.) Read the article with your teens, then ask if they think less homework would be a good or bad thing. Why? Do they think their school work is balanced in comparison to their time resting and playing? Is it creating unhealthy habits that may be fostering workaholic behavior later in life? What else could they be doing with their time if homework was eliminated?
Parent Guide Spotlight: More than just a music streaming service, Spotify is the preferred platform for today’s teenagers. Learn why, as well as the ins and outs, the pros and cons, and the risks in our new Parent’s Guide to Spotify.
Gen Z Be Drippin
YouTube star CoolCarll has a hilarious and poignant take on Gen Z’s use and abuse of the English language. If you watched and still didn’t understand a lot of it, you’re not alone. As has been the case for many generations, there’s a large gap between how adults and teenagers speak—though a case could be made that the gap is only increasing, thanks to the speed at which new slang is introduced and adopted via social media.
To help you understand the Gen Zers in your life, below is a quick look at 10 phrases and slang Gen Zers use. A caveat: As this cringey video shows, it’s high key not chill when adults and brands try way too hard to incorporate slang to appeal to teenagers (case in point: this sentence). Rather than keeping up with slang for that reason, it’s important to do so in order to know what our teens mean and have meaningful exchanges with them.
1. Yeet: A word with many meanings and usages. Can be an exclamation of excitement or nervousness (e.g. after winning at Fortnite: “YEEEEET!”). Can be a feeling or emotion. Can be a verb, meaning to put one’s full energy and might toward something.
2. Fam: One’s closest friends.
3. Fam Jam: One’s actual family.
4. Suh: A greeting. Most likely a combination of “sup” and “huh.”
5. I’m finna dipset: “I’m fixing to leave.” “Finna” = “fixing to” (like “gonna” = “going to”), and “dipset” probably evolved from the phrase “dip out.”
6. No cap: A synonym for TBH (to be honest); means “I’m not lying.”
7. Weird flex but ok: A sassy or sarcastic response to someone showing off (“flexing”) or bragging. Also used humorously.
8. Facts: An agreement or affirmation that something is factual.
9. Yee: A synonym for “yes” or “yeah.” Can be doubled up—“yee yee!”—for emphasis or excitement.
10. Bet: Another word that can be used in many different ways. It can be used to as a response to someone’s taunts or doubts (i.e. “You better believe it”), to agree to something (i.e. “You can bet on it”), or as a replacement for “for sure”/“sure”/“you know it” (i.e. “You bet!”).
9 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:
“There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”
1. Does your teen have an online nemesis? According to this article, over 260,000 tweets are marked with the hashtag “nemesis,” a flag-word that could signify anything from a friendly competitor to an ugly rivalry. While the idea of a nemesis isn’t new, its prevalence does speak somewhat to the idea of a comparison-driven culture. And while wishing ill upon a nemesis is obviously wrong, competing with a person as a way to motivate oneself is a little more of a gray area. Having a conversation about what your teen thinks a nemesis is could open a discussion on finding ways to challenge ourselves without rooting against others.
2. Everyone is talking about Jordan Peele’s psychological horror film, Us. Reviews of the film are honest about its violence, upsetting images, and creepy doppelganger villains. One surprising element of the movie is its biblical reference, which apparently shows up during the latter half. Jeremiah 11:11 hit Google’s list of top searches, with viewers curious as to what its significance in the film could be. Even if you’re skipping the movie, it’s a convicting verse about a society being doomed by its own ugly history, reading, “Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them’”—a vivid reminder that our actions have consequences, both personally and nationally. If we are sowing a culture of death, should it surprise us one day when we reap it?
3. The Godzilla franchise is back (again!) with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, coming in May of this year and starring Millie Bobby Brown (of Stranger Things fame and a huge name in the world of young viewers). A new trailer dropped this week, showcasing the film’s decidedly 2019 twist: Kyle Chandler, who co-stars as MBB’s dad, says the themes of the movie include “healing the earth.” It’s Green New Deal Godzilla! With a subplot that focuses on familial relationships with a backdrop of a crumbling world environment, odds are high that your teen is going to want to watch this film—and if you watch the trailer, you might, too!
4. How will we remember the social media era? Probably not very well, according to a story from VICE. It cites research into how memories are formed and how the act of documenting for social media interrupts that process. While savoring the moment continues to take a backseat to broadcasting it, it’s likely social media lovers are losing their ability to even recall being in the scene they were so intent on photographing. Bring this research to your teen’s attention the next time screen time limits come up in conversation, reminding them that while likes and retweets might feel good, a truly felt memory lasts a lifetime.
5. YouTube “sensation” ( we’re using the term loosely) Lil Tay has an origin story that might shed some light on the vloggers your kids are talking about. It also might make you really sad. Coached by her teenaged older brother to spout curse words and make ridiculous boasts in her videos, the “star” inspired countless memes throughout 2018. But the human girl is trapped in a custody battle between her parents in a reality that is less Hollywood Hills than it is heartbreaking. If you’re looking to understand diss cultures and the star machine of YouTube memes, you won’t find a better morality tale than her story.
6. A Catholic mother of four sons wrote an op-ed in The Observer, Notre Dame’s college paper, where she lamented the popularity of leggings amongst young women. Many media outlets have angled the story to frame the backlash to her plea to college-aged girls to “think of the mothers of young sons” before they choose the form-fitting garment. It’s a dicey conversation on so many levels. Are girls really that responsible for male sexual thoughts and behavior or should guys control their own thoughts and actions regardless? Is this shaming normal, healthy physical attraction or could this “Leggings-Hating Mom” have a point? In this swirling conversation it’s easy to forget that modesty is a value that both women and men are urged to cherish, and that there are objective ways we can hold our bodies as sacred places where the Holy Spirit lives. Rather than targeting just one kind of clothing or gender, you can remind your teen that their bodies aren’t sexual commodities to be exploited or gawked at, but rather the very place God has chosen to take up residence in this world and thus due the proper respect and dignity from both themselves and others.
7. Girls at a Maryland high school found out their male classmates had ranked them by their looks—up to the decimal point. Though the young men did face discipline from the school, the girls on the list decided that the situation hadn’t been fully resolved. Faculty meetings, a mediated confrontation, and an ongoing co-ed campus group working toward respect for female students are just some of the good outcomes from what was a negative situation. As anyone who attended a high school knows, this kind of behavior has never been uncommon—but maybe Gen Z will pump the brakes on a culture that objectifies and demeans women’s bodies.
8. Do you live with a Justin Bieber fan? This week in Justin Bieber news, the star announced that he is choosing to take a break from music to focus on “deep rooted problems” as well as being a husband and preparing for fatherhood. Bieber’s fans might be disappointed in his choice to step back from touring and recording, but ultimately this makes a stronger case for how seriously Justin is taking his new marriage and his commitment to his faith. Other stars (and people in general!) struggling with social media, work/life balance, and the emptiness of success would do well to follow his lead.
9. The NYT’s Style section ran a photo editorial this week spotlighting Gen Z “in their own words.” Predictably, the Times focuses on the “intersectionality” of this age group, with an emphasis on their perspectives on gender fluidity. But there’s another fascinating aspect to this profile, and it’s the way these teens and young adults describe their relationship to their identity.
As Gen Z comes of age,“identity” can be a vastly individualized set of characteristics, not necessarily one political tribe or religious denomination, according to those interviewed. Perhaps we could stand to take a lesson from teens on how nuanced and empathetic their understanding of identity can actually be.