Three Things This Week
1. Yanny vs. Laurel
Why it's fascinating: If your kids haven’t yet asked you what you hear, take some time to listen and debate it with them. Besides the fact that it’s a fun way to join their world, it’s also a fascinating look into perception and how we experience reality. As Vox points out, “Our interpretations of reality are often arbitrary, but we’re stubborn about them nonetheless.” Ask your kids: Is there an objective truth in this instance? (Time says there is.) How can we hear such different things? Can this happen with other things we experience/perceive? Have you ever disagreed with someone over how something happened? Could your perceptions have played a role? How can this help us better empathize with others?
What it is: This week marked the beginning of Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims, who make up one quarter of the world’s population.
Why it's an opportunity: Our families can learn a great deal about spiritual disciplines from our Muslim neighbors. Did you know Muslims will fast all day during Ramadan? Have you ever thought about the courage it takes to stop and pray five times every day? Ramadan provides a unique opportunity to have spiritual conversations not only with Muslims, but with our teens as well. What spiritual practices does your family observe (the Christian calendar, praying the hours, fasting, sabbath)? How could implementing these practices strengthen your children’s faith by not only changing what they think, but how they live?
3. Fall in Line
What it is: Christina Aguilera collaborated with Demi Lovato to release another single from her first album in six years. The theme: female empowerment.
Why it's confusing: As beautiful as the vocals and as powerful as the lyrics are (“You are not beholden / You do not owe them / Your body and your soul”), it seems she’s preaching one idea while doing exactly the opposite. Her first single from the album (“Accelerate”) is rife with sexualized images and sexual innuendo, which reeks of the objectification she fights against in the former. While we have yet to see what the music video for “Fall in Line” will be, it’s important that we model for and talk with our daughters about true empowerment—one that’s rooted in and derived from Christ in us—so that when conflicting messages like these come around, they’ll know better.
Is P*rn Literacy the Answer?
“‘There’s nowhere else to learn about sex,’ the suburban boy told me. ‘And p*rn stars know what they are doing.’”
This high school student’s statement reflects a growing trend: Teenagers are turning to p*rnography for sex eduation, which means they’re learning extremely warped ideas about pleasure, intimacy, power, and normalcy.
The New York Times Magazine recently looked into this issue in a long, heartbreaking, at times shocking, and honest exposé (Warning: Read at your own risk! Though we do think it’s worth reading in order to better grasp the severity of the issue.). The author wonders if “Porn Literacy”—which aims to make teens more critical consumers of porn through examination of how sexuality, aggression, consent, relationships, body images, and other issues are portrayed (or not portrayed) in porn—might reduce problems like sexual/dating violence, as well as our society’s dependence on the unrealistic and often one-sided depictions of sex found in mainstream p*rn.
One of the developers, Emily Rothman, says that she decided to create such a curriculum because of her unexpected findings through research, including that “pornography was the number one source of information about sex for the teens in this sample.” While education purposes may be one of the reasons teens seek out porn, they often stick around because of its addictive properties. (We highly recommend the documentary Over 18 for more on this.) But what’s even more concerning for us is Rothman’s finding that “[teens’] parents didn’t know how to talk to them about pornography.”
Talking about anything related to sex is awkward, which is understandably why many parents dread or even neglect doing so. But can we afford to outsource our kids’ sex education to their peers, teachers, magazines, or—worse—the internet and pornography? Sex education is a hotly debated topic. In fact, amongst the thousands of Christians who read this email each week, there’s probably a multitude of different ideas as to what’s best.
So we’d say p*rn literacy isn’t the answer; parents are. As the parent, you are the one God has ordained to teach your kids about sexuality and holiness. You are the only one who can tailor “the talk” to each of your children based on when they’re ready and/or what they’ve been exposed to. No state- or school-sponsored program can do what you can do.
Which is why we have to start the conversation about it. Now.
Read our brand new “Parent’s Guide to Pornography” bundle to help you do just that! This comprehensive guide will not only help you start the conversation about p*rn with your kids, it will also equip you to guide the conversation toward a Christian understanding of sexuality.