Image Via: Kon Karampelas on Unsplash
Three Things This Week
1. All The Star Wars
Why it’s a lot: Confused? We understand. Here’s the skinny. Jedi: Fallen Order is a video game, The Last SkyWalker is the final installment in the Star Wars movie franchise, and The Mandelorian is Disney Plus’s eight-episode show running now through December 27. If movies or TV shows divide your family along generational lines, the Star Wars universe is big enough and clean enough to bring you together. Combining the nostalgia of our youth with the visual epicness of modern cinema, it’s a unique pop-cultural icon that both parents and kids can enjoy equally. Set aside time to stream The Mandelorian together, or start a new Christmas tradition by seeing the film as a family.
2. “I Am Ugly"
What it is: A new TikTok trend of self-deprecating humor where normal kids say they are “ugly” in an attempt to free themselves from the “expectation of hotness.”
Why it’s not as bad as you think: It’s Gen Z’s version of revenge of the nerds, and it’s ironically empowering. “The internet has created a never-ending conveyor belt of people so bafflingly good-looking that everyone else is immediately rendered ugly by comparison,” says Rebecca Jennings of Vox. Letting go of pop culture’s impossible beauty standards and accepting themselves for who they are is a necessary step toward healthy self-esteem. Ask your son or daughter if they’ve posted an “I am ugly” video. If so, what compelled them to do it and how did it make them feel?
3. Another School Shooting
What it is: Two more kids are dead after a 16-year-old student gunman shot five classmates and himself at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California.
Why it continues: An estimated 70 U.S. school shootings have occurred already this year, so many that we’ve become calloused to the carnage and desensitized to the death. One student said, “it’s the world now..and it’s weird.” He’s right. It’s a weird world where we offer thoughts and prayers but little action. A world so indifferent to the violence that we must tell lies to each other and even to ourselves about how tragic but irreparable it all is, because, without the lies, these “‘deplorable acts would become impossibilities.” Our kids are dying. This isn’t natural. Are we prepared to come together and do what it takes to save them? Or do we believe the lie that this weird world really is the new normal?
Come to Colorado! You’re invited to our exclusive Community Leader Intensive January 24-25, 2020. Get trained by our team to “be the Axis of your community”! We’ll help you become a culture translator while equipping you to launch an Axis small group in your community. Register by November 18 for a discounted price!
Dealing with Depression & Anxiety
Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston lost his younger brother to an apparent suicide this week, he was only 19. The story highlights the growing concern over teen suicide and depression as upwards of 3.1 million young adults experience at least one major depressive episode per year. Worse, 60% of children struggling with suicidal ideation, anxiety, or depression never receive treatment. As parents, it’s often hard to know how to equip your child to cope with their very real and treatable mental health issues. To help, here are ten practical suggestions to practice starting today to help your teen manage their emotional well-being.
- Get counseling: Thankfully, the stigma surrounding mental health issues is slowly subsiding among evangelicals. If you are concerned about your child’s mental state, see an expert, receive a diagnosis, and start treatment for on-going issues.
- Go outside: Sure it might sound overly simplistic, but research proves that connecting with God’s good creation reduces stress and helps regulate emotions. Encourage your teen to take a walk, notice the beauty of a butterfly, sit under an ageless oak tree, or gaze up at the stars made by the same hands that hold them in His loving arms.
- Exercise: Jogging, walking, or working out for 30 minutes a day can help your teen produce endorphins that fight and eliminate stress.
- Social media fast: San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge already connected social media use with anxiety, so it’s no surprise that resisting the temptation to tweet, share, heart, or post on social media has a direct impact on higher self-esteem. Encourage your kids to pick at least one day per week to fast from social media and then monitor how it impacts their mood, hopefully for the better!
- Prayerful meditation: Carving out ten minutes to sit in prayerful silence before God and let go of our ceaseless striving, habitual thoughts, and nagging doubts retrains the heart and mind to know and accept that we are loved unconditionally by our creator and sustainer. Have them try it first thing in the morning by creating a sacred space in your home that is quiet and free of distractions.
- Get some sleep: Teenagers need over nine hours of sleep, but studies show they only get roughly seven hours per night which leads to mood swings, cognitive difficulties, and poor academic performance, further exacerbating their stress and anxiety. Here’s a simple fix: If your child insists on sleeping with their phone, be the parent and tell them no! :) Read this article with them on how technology hinders quality sleep.
- Bibliotherapy: Stories aren’t just a means of escaping the real world, they help us identify with and connect to something bigger than ourselves. A great novel can build empathy and combat isolation. Here are 20 books every teen should read before they turn 18.
- Serve: There’s nothing quite like helping someone in need to remind yourself how good you really have it. With Thanksgiving coming up, volunteer at a homeless shelter or food kitchen. It’s amazing how great it feels to honor and serve the least of these.
- Consider medication: If your child is being treated for depression or anxiety, proper medication can be an integral part of their recovery. Talk with a doctor about the pros and cons of prescription meds.
- IRL connection: Nothing is more transformative than human connection and intimate relationships. Every child wants to belong, be known, and believe someone loves them unconditionally. Connect them with a mentor, teacher, pastor, or friend who can come alongside them and offer love, support, and a listening ear.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
Editor’s Note: Axis links to many different sources within this e-newsletter; a link does not equal an endorsement. We cannot guarantee the content of each site (especially its ads). Please be forewarned. Also, we highly recommend something like AdBlock.