Three Things This Week
1. Boy Erased
What it is: Based on Garrard Conley’s memoir, this new movie tells the tragic story of the son of a Baptist preacher forced into gay conversion therapy.
Why it’s challenging: Especially for Christians, the movie asks some tough questions: How should I react if my son/daughter is same-sex attracted? How do I model the love of God while calling my child to pursue purity? Why does pop culture portray the church as an unsafe place for LGBT+ teens? How does your church respond to LBGT+ individuals? Luckily, Lead Them Home ministries has a movie kit to help you navigate this conversation with your teens. Following Jesus means living as He lived, and that is often uncomfortable. He always moved toward the outsider, included the marginalized, and embraced the outcast while calling them to repentance. May we learn to do likewise as we seek to embody Christ to our LGBT+ friends and family in a way that transforms us all. (BTW, Timothée Chalamet is the newest teen heartthrob actor, and his new interview—language—by fellow heartthrob Harry Styles is illuminating.)
2. Instagram > Snapchat
What it is: According to new research, Instagram now tops Snapchat as the most used app among teens.
Why it makes sense:85% of teens say they use Instagram at least once a month, and the company reported 1 billion monthly users back in June. Crazy. Interestingly enough, Silicon Valley parents seem obsessed with keeping their children from the very devices and platforms they’ve created, as one former Facebook employee states, “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones.” Is she right? Image-based apps can feed compulsive behavior by targeting three key developmental needs in teens: socialization, significance, and the longing to be heard. And when the app fails to fulfill these desires, it fuels feelings of isolation, unworthiness, and neglect.
Why it’s what we all need: Whether your loved one has never seen p*rnography or is deeply addicted, this tool aims to help you in your specific situation and offer helpful tips, practical advice, and a framework for beginning this difficult conversation. With the ability to customize things like who you’d like to talk to and why you want to talk them (including confessing your own p*rn habits or addiction), the Blueprint is thorough, easy to use, full of resources, and tailored for you. Now’s the time to talk about this plight on our hearts and minds, and with the Blueprint, you can be better prepared than ever. Also, check out their upcoming documentary Brain. Heart. World.
Shame on You
You’ve felt it. Your kids have felt it. We’ve felt it. That gut-wrenching feeling of utter unworthiness due to something you’ve said or done: a bad grade, losing your temper with your kids, being overweight, getting unfriended on Facebook, etc. (Did you feel it just from reading the title of this article?) Shame attacks your very identity, whispering lies that you aren’t enough, you don’t measure up, and you’ll never get it right. Where guilt can be helpful as a catalyst for change, shame engenders despair and hopelessness.
As Christians, the key to overcoming shame lies in our ability to trust in God’s inherent goodness. But, like Adam and Eve, when we sin, our inclination is to run and hide or play the blame game. Why? Because we struggle to believe in God’s radical mercy. Instead of “original sin,” we could simply call this primordial reaction “original shame.” Fortunately, when we look deeper into the creation narrative, we see at the center of the story a nurturing, gentle Father who doesn’t amplify shame, but instead sews garments to heal and remove Adam and Eve’s shame. It’s one of the most beautiful and overlooked passages in all of Scripture.
The next time your teen disappoints you, fails, or just willfully disobeys, pause and ask yourself how you can respond to their behavior in a manner that encourages confession and true change instead of humiliation. And in those tough moments, do your best to remember shame breeds destruction while mercy leads to transformation.
To help you, we’ve created a Parent’s Guide to Shame-Free Parenting. It’s a practical tool to help you identify and eliminate shame from your home and disciplinary methods.
12 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:
1. “I try to tell him somebody wrote code to make you feel this way — I’m trying to help him understand how things are made, the values that are going into things and what people are doing to create that feeling. And he’s like, ‘I just want to spend my 20 bucks to get my Fortnite skins.’”
–John Lilly, former CEO of Mozilla, trying to help his 13-year-old understand how some technology is made and how it manipulates our feelings.
2. If you have an iPhone or iPad, use it to open this link to find out more useful tips and tricks for getting the most out of the new ScreenTime utility that Apple included as a part of iOS 12.
3. There’s good news for your tech-savvy teens who like to repair broken devices. A new federal ruling will help further protect them from copyright violations if they have to modify the original software in order to fix a device. It’s a big win for the “right to repair,” but companies still make it difficult to fix things without using their services or special tools. What do your teens think about this practice? Should companies be forced to make it easier for owners to fix the things they own?
4. In case you needed another reason to be wary of too much smartphone use, here’s something you can tell the future doctors in your family: One medical professor thinks smartphones are hurting students’ dexterity and limiting their surgical skills. It’s only one doctor’s opinion, but if your teen is looking to get into the medical field, maybe tell them to take a break from the swiping and take up knitting?
5. Later this month Netflix is releasing a new “dog-umentary” appropriately titled Dogs. Considering that Americans spent almost $70 billion on pets last year, it’s sure to have an audience. Don’t hear us wrong, we love dogs, but should there be a limit to how much we should spend on them? Does our care for our canines ever exceed our care for our fellow humans? Ask your teens for their thoughts. On the flip side of things, are there any important lessons we can learn from dogs? As the show’s teaser poster says, one things dogs do really well is love unconditionally.
6. Instagram and YouTube royalty are in a bit of a shakeup, but the reactions to losing the top spot on each platform have been quite different. On Instagram, singer Selena Gomez has lost the top spot to soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, partially because she’s intentionally taking a break from social media for mental health reasons and therefore hasn’t posted anything for over a month. But over on YouTube, gamer PewDiePie is about to lose his top spot to an Indian music label and has done everything he can to cling to his fame, including asking fellow YouTubers and his fans to help him get more subscribers. Celebrities typically don’t make good role models, but Selena has given teens a great model for how to put health before likes and also how to not grasp too tightly to the fleeting fame that social media can bring.
7. Regardless of what you really think about Halloween, the season often provides a good review of some of the year’s most popular memes, as people turn them into costumes. This year was no exception. Check it out to keep up on what memes have been passing through your teenager’s social media feeds.
8. A teen has used an equation created by NOAA to formulate a less expensive way to develop active solar panels that follow the sun as it moves through the sky. Amidst all of the trials and challenges that we see facing teenagers, it’s good to be reminded that they can also be incredibly creative in order to overcome problems. Sometimes they need guidance for that creativity, but sometimes teen creativity works best because it has become burdened by life’s responsibilities or the inhibitions of failure in a career.
9. Every public library and YMCA in the U.S. will soon receive two free doses of Narcan, the brand-name drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. One site was touting this as good news, and it is in some ways. But the fact that it’s even necessary is a sobering picture of the current epidemic that the country is facing. Don’t wait to talk to your children about opioid abuse.
10. As marijuana continues to become legal in more states and countries, there’s still strong evidence that its use by teenagers with still-developing minds is detrimental. The good news is that if teens cease using the plant, their minds appear to start recovering fairly quickly.
11. Do you know what “chat-fiction” is? It’s a new form of storytelling made popular by Hooked, a company that posts its stories in the Discover section of Snapchat. It uses the format of a messaging app to tell a story through chat messages. Since users already have short attention spans and are used to having their own lives unfold message bubble by message bubble, it’s a very engaging format. Hooked’s latest story is a supernatural thriller. Have your kids read chat-fiction? What do they like about it?
Tip of the Week
12. “Busyness will not save us. That is an American gospel, not a biblical one.” That’s just one of the opening lines from a convicting and excellent sermon on David and Bathsheba. But it doesn’t quite capture what the rest of the sermon is about. The real conviction comes in its breakdown of what David actually did: He abused power, something that we all do. But the story doesn’t end there. David also repented. What do your teens think this would look like for them? Where have they abused their power? Do they need to repent? Listen to the sermon and discuss with them.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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