Three Things This Week
1. Gen Z & the “L” Word
What it is: Pew Research believes today’s teens may be the “most liberal” generation to date.
Why it’s maybe not what you think: If you were raised in the culture war era, words like “conservative” became synonymous with morality, while “liberal” was akin to evil. But if we strip away the political baggage associated with these words, their meanings might change. Pew believes Gen Z is “liberal” because they are far more open and inclusive of racial and ethnic diversity while simultaneously supporting larger government involvement in climate care and societal problems. Webster Defines liberal as “one who is open-minded” and “marked by generosity.” Ask your teens if they think of themselves and their friends as liberal and if that word still carries the same negative stereotypes for today’s generation. Why or why not? Read through the characteristics listed by Pew and see if they resonate with them.
2. Phickle Phriend
What is it:A letter from a psychologist to teens delves into the science behind why we long for popularity.
Why it’s worth reading: Social media has commodified popularity, transforming it from a nebulous target you were never quite sure you’d hit to a quantifiable goal measured in likes, followers, reposts, streaks, etc. But as the letter shows, popularity isn’t exactly all it seems to be, nor does it actually pay off in the long term. Yet because it’s now a number staring us in the face day in and day out, it’s hard not to become focused on—if not obsessed with—it. Whether your kids are already entrenched or yet to enter the new popularity race, it’s worth reading the letter together. What do they think about it? Does it help them understand what’s happening when they engage with social media apps? Why or why not?
3. Expert Advice Awaits
What it is: Our brand new online Parenting Relationships Summit starts soon!
Why it’s worth your time: What’s the key to deeply connecting with your child’s heart? Are there best practices? How do you teach your teen to follow God in the midst of our loud culture? By joining the FREE summit, you’ll learn from 50 Christian experts who teach and discuss the key role relationships play in answering all of these questions and raising your teen with a vibrant faith in Jesus. Reserve your free spot today and make sure to put it on your calendar!
Parent Guide Spotlight: Speaking of Gen Z, are they really just “Millennials on steroids”? Or do they have their own unique hopes, dreams, fears, influences, and identity? What makes them Gen Z? Check out our brand new Parent’s Guide to Generation Z to get a better understanding of them as a whole and how they differ from other generations so that you can better connect with and relate to them.
The Best a Man Can Get?
On Monday, Gillette released a powerful ad confronting toxic masculinity, bullying, and sexual harassment, and it has unfortunately triggered unhealthy responses from both Christians and non-Christians alike. The commercial takes “aim at behavior acknowledged universally as trash and then goes out of its way to provide better, more positive examples of manhood. It’s both a criticism of men who engage in toxic behavior or stand idly by while it happens and an encouragement to be better.” The ad ends by encouraging men to flip the script by raising a generation of boys who refuse to use their strength to dominate, control, coerce, and hurt. A Gillette spokesperson said, “It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture….We have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive, and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.”
The commercial’s detractors launched a boycott of Gillette, saying the ad emasculates men. But does it? Or does it simply call out unhealthy masculinity that has been culturally acceptable for far too long? Like Gillette, we also believe men can do better, especially Christian men whose masculinity is rooted in the masculinity of Jesus. Broken men dominate women professionally, theologically, personally, and relationally. Christ-like men elevate women to equal status by treating them with respect and dignity. Broken men attack the weak; Christ-like men protect and defend the defenseless. Broken men cover up and protect other men’s bad behavior. Christ-like men courageously confront their brothers and call them to a higher standard. Broken men mansplain. Christ-like men listen, validate, and learn from women.
Whether you’ve seen the ad or not, watch it with your son or daughter and before responding with your opinions, ask them what they think about it. If the ad angers you or your teen, ask why. Is it because it’s true? Is it personally convicting? Are we complicit in a culture that gives men a free pass on bad behavior? We believe Gen Z can do better, and we’re all here to ensure they do.
8 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:
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
1. Don’t be alarmed if your kids start asking you to buy them the newest smartphone. It’s got a price tag around $1,500, and—surprise!—it’s not an iPhone. Shocking, we know, but what’s even more surprising is that it’s actually a flip phone. In fact, it’s a fully reconceived Motorola Razr, the phone that dominated the market until the advent of the iPhone. Will it become the status symbol it once was? You’ll know if your kids start begging you for it.
2. “It’s almost like you were happy for the excuse.” Season 2 of Netflix’s The Punisher released today, and even the trailer for the season is gory. Though the title character spends his time and energy fighting corruption and evil, he also seems to like the killing. He fights for his own causes and takes extreme measures to mete out justice. It brings up lots of questions about ethics, masculinity, how far is too far, if killing is ever justified, how the violent images impact our minds, and more. Ask your superhero-loving teen if they plan to watch Season 2 and why they think the Punisher stands out from other heroes. Are antiheroes popular only because the same old formula of good vs. evil is getting stale? (Check out our Parent’s Guide to Antiheroes, too.)
3. Maybe you’ve heard of or seen the latest viral meme, the Ten Year Challenge (aka the “How Hard Has Aging Hit You?” challenge). The idea is to post a photo from 10 years ago next to one from now to show the difference 10 years makes. Kinda fun, right? One journalist wonders whether there’s more to it, prompting readers to reconsider how we treat our own data. What do you and your teens think? Could there be something behind it? Regardless, does it make you think twice before joining the trend? Why or why not?
4. Did your teens “like” the egg? On January 5, the Instagram account @world_record_egg posted a single photo of an egg, asking people to break the record for most likes on a photo, then held by Kylie Jenner with 18.5 million. The lone egg now has almost 48 million likes, and the account is already selling related merch. Why? There are many speculations. If your kids liked it, ask them why. If they didn’t, ask them why. Why do they think it become such a sensation?
5. Mega pastor Joyce Meyer (2.1M Instagram followers) recently admitted that some of her teachings on prosperity and healing got out of sync with what the Bible actually says. Of course, simply admitting that doesn’t undo the effects of years of unbiblical preaching, but it’s worth celebrating because it means that going forward she will (hopefully) be preaching the real Gospel with just as much as fervor. It’s a great opportunity to rethink your own version of the “Good News.”
Tip of the Week
6. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver died on Thursday, leaving an incredible library of poetry infused with contemplative spirituality. Her works celebrated the divine hidden in the ordinary. She saw no distinction between the sacred and the secular; to her, all living things declared the glory of God. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read one poem a day, so I started by reading Mary Oliver. I’ve not regretted it. Her words have a way of sneaking past your defenses and awakening your heart and mind to new ways of seeing. She wrote with such ease, such simplicity, and yet almost every line was “suffused with a pulsating, almost mystical spirituality.” If you’re searching for inspiration, or simply longing to enrich your life with beauty and meaning, pick up one of Oliver’s collections. We suggest starting with Thirst, an anthology of 43 new poems that grapple with grief, love, and faith. Here’s a link to a few of her most beloved poems.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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