Parenting Book Cover

Posted on: 10/29/10 7:37 AM | by Jonathan McKee

At the beginning of the month, a few hundred of you helped me (and my publisher) choose a cover for my upcoming parenting book. It’s time to show you those results, as well as the final cover!

We showed you four possible ideas, and asked for your comments. Even though a number of you favored the cover with the teenager on the front, the overwhelming majority of you liked the one with burnt toast and offered some great comments about color, design, etc. All good ideas, indeed.

We took those comments and the team has made some tweaks, finally coming up with a really good final cover. (And for those of you who really liked the other covers– no worries– I think you’ll still enjoy the content of the book!)  🙂

Many of you have asked… so here’s a peek at the final cover below, and a glimpse at the Table of Contents as it sits right now. The T.O.C. can still change a bit. I have six of these chapters written and am working steady on finishing the rest.

The will hit the shelves in spring, 2011. I’ll keep you all posted as I make progress on it, especially as we launch in the next few weeks.

Thank you all so much for your help!


Table of Contents
Introduction—I’ll Never Do That with My Kids
Blemished—Life Lessons
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Building Relationships
Can I Even Make a Difference?—The Weight of Parental Influence
Be There—Discovering Quality Time
Hot Tubs and Nail Salons—Arenas Where Communication is Cultivated
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Teaching Values
Raising the Bar—Teaching Our Kids Lasting Values
Dad, Can I Download this Song?—Applying Discernment in Day to Day Decisions
Do It or…or Else I’ll…—Discipline and Follow Through
I Want to Be Like You Dad and Mom—Imperfect Parents Inspiring by Example Regardless
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Letting Go
Before They’re Gone—Raising Up “Daniels”
Am I Too Late?—Last Minute Efforts

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Reaching a Campus

Posted on: 10/27/10 4:05 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Youth workers constantly ask me, “How do I get on-campus at a public school?”

In my Connect workshops I always ask youth workers this question: “How many of you go on campus regularly and try to get to know unchurched kids?” “How many have ever done this?”

A few hands trickle up… usually less than 10 percent of the crowd.

As we talk about the subject more in the workshop, I find that this fact isn’t necessarily because youth workers don’t want to… a lot of it is they don’t know how.

In my book GETTING STUDENTS TO SHOW UP I devote a whole chapter to campus minsitry, and in my book CONNECT  I spend quite a few chapters walking through the process of meeting “unchurched kids” on their turf. We provide a few articles and podcasts on the subject as well on our website- talking about the process. Even still, we are asked the question frequently: “How can I get on campus?”

Todd Pearage, one of our THE SOURCE team members, answered that question in an email recently and I wanted to share one of his stories with you:

Four years ago I arrived at a new church in a new area and one of the first things I did was make an appointment with the school superintendent. I went in dressed professionally and introduced myself. After a few minutes of small talk he asked what he could do for me. (He was a bottom line kind of guy – most administrators are because of their busy schedules). At that point I said, “Absolutely nothing, I just wanted to say hello, introduce myself and let you know if there is anything I or my church can ever do for you or the district, please let me know”.

I expected him to give me the ol’ thank you, don’t call us, we’ll call you speech. But something amazing happened. He sat there, looking at me. Then he leaned back in his chair looked me right in the eyes and said, “Todd I’ve been doing this job for over 35 years and you are the first youth pastor, pastor, priest or clergymen that has ever walked in here and NOT asked for something”. With that he shook my hand and said, “I’m looking forward to getting to know you”

That conversation was the first of many. So as you go in to that meeting think about how you can serve the school, not how they can serve you.

I hope that’s a small help.


Keep up the good work!

I’m Too Sexy for My… Costume?

Posted on: 10/25/10 1:45 PM | by Jonathan McKee

“What do you wanna be for Halloween?” Taylor whispers to her friend Kayla in her 6th grade history class.
“A naughty nurse! What about you?”
“A racy referee!”
Whatever happened to good ol’ princess costumes? Anyone? How about a clown?
Halloween costumes are becoming smaller, racier and sexier. These kinds of provocative costumes have always been available for adults, but have you noticed how frequently they are being marketed to our teens and tweens in the last few years?
My 13-year-old and 15-year-old girl love costumes, so they are quick to grab the “Party City” costume insert in the paper each week during the month of October. Have you seen these ads? Some of these might as well be in the Victoria Secret catalogue. Alyssa picked up this week’s little costume insert and saw a picture of this girl in the little blue outfit highlighted on the back of the ad (the picture on the right). She laughed and asked me (and I quote), “What’s this costume supposed to be, girl in slutty blue dress?”
It’s funny. Many of the costumes don’t seem to have a point, other than to be short and provocative. Sadly, parents are “lowering the bar” and purchasing these kinds of costumes for their daughters. This is yet another instance when parents should read the American Psychological Association’s report, The Sexualization of Girls and consider the consequences that go along with lowering our standards like this.
Jump on Party City’s costume website and look at the most popular costumes they market to our teenager girls. Girls can choose from costumes like the Teen Girls Racy Referee Costume. Or for those who want to pay tribute to our soldiers, why not get your daughter a Teen Girls Sassy Sailor Costume.
As a dad of two teenage girls, I can assure you… there is no way they are leaving my house wearing something like this! Sadly, many parents allow this. You should have seen the average dress size at the Homecoming dance I chaperoned a few weekends ago. Some of those dresses would have made Katy Perry blush.
We need to stop lowering the bar.
Many teenage girls aren’t going to just consider costumes for teenagers (they’ll let our tween girls do that—kids always dress up one age group. That’s why some of the girls in my daughter’s junior high school PE class wear thongs), they’re going to look at the costumes for adults. That opens up a whole world of choices for young girls. Now they can dress up as Mile High Captain (my 13-year-old asked me why she was called that. Sigh.) or Dirty Cop. offers a bunch of really crude and racy costumes as well, costumes like “Gropin Granny” or “d**k-head,” a costume where guys dress up as… well… yes, the male genitalia (Yeah, I didn’t include a pic of that one). I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. This costume is probably pretty accurate to what we’ve all become dressing up our females like we do.
If a man wants to buy a sexy costume for his wife when the trick-or-treaters are gone and the kids are asleep, have fun! (hmmmm… that gets me thinking) …but can we please stop marketing this stuff to our kids?

Crowder Shines

Posted on: 10/22/10 9:24 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I don’t know if David Crowder can even fathom the amazing impact he has had on worship in the 21st century. He’s not only filled arenas with jumping young people lifting their hands to God and rocked churches across the continent… he’s given believers a tune to hum throughout the day. He’s provided ‘ammo’ for worship.

I can remember the first time my wife heard the words to Everything Glorious and came in to me, “Jonathan, have you heard this?”… I think I teared up. A bunch of us were dialoguing about lyrics of today’s music in the comment section of my blog about pop music earlier this week, and I mentioned, in a world where young girls constantly look in the mirror and think, “I’m ugly,” Crowder provides a song that says:

You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

So powerful.

Yesterday I was working on my parenting book in progress (5 chapters due today… I’m done with 6. Yeah!!!) and I was finishing up a chapter on “creating guidelines” in our homes. I listed some of my guidelines, one of which had to do with starting and ending the day with Christian music.

This has been an interesting experience in my house. We, like most people, enjoy secular music (The Fray, John Mayer, Five for Fighting…). And we allow secular music in our house that doesn’t distract us from our relationship with God (The Fray and Five for Fighting are great… Mayer is an interesting one…). But we’ve also added this guideline of only allowing Christian music the first hour in the morning and the last hour at night. My kids were really whiney about it when we first discussed it years ago. But we discussed it and agreed on it as a family… and it’s been powerful.

There’s nothing like starting and ending your day with God’s truth in your ears. If you haven’t tried it… I encourage you to.

That said, Crowder is often in my ears. Call me picky or whiney… but I don’t like a lot of Christian music. I’m constantly on the lookout for the good stuff. But Crowder, Dutton, Tomlin… and yes, even a few Toby Mac songs have been a huge help.

Yesterday Crowder blogged about a new video they made with a Lite Brite (hilarious description of trying to make the video with over 80 friends all “pegging” to make it happen). I love Crowder’s videos. I’ll never forget in the last year when I popped on iTunes to look at the Top 10 (something I regularly do) and saw his HOW HE LOVES video at #6 (amazing song and video). I thought, “Rock it Crowder!” So proud of him for making something so quality and so praiseworthy. Well… Crowder’s at it again, this time to his song, Shine.

Other people are already blogging about it this morning… I won’t repeat. But I encourage you to check out his blog, and check out this video. You’ll be humming the song later… I promise. (I downloaded the whole album- I couldn’t resist)

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Teens Texting Even More

Posted on: 10/20/10 1:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

The popularity of texting is rising, and the amount of American teenagers who are texting just keeps increasing. Teenage girls take the lead with an average of 4,050 texts per month, according to the most recent Nielson report.

Wow! That’s a lot of…



what u doin?


Me 2

c u l8r

Deep conversations!

My 15-year-old does plenty of this. I don’t think she’s broke the 2500 texts in a month mark… which is really comforting to me, but probably distressing to some mom across the country whose daughter is at the 6,000+ mark, making up for my daughter’s shortfall!

Nielson notes an 8 percent jump in texting in the last year (using data from monthly cell bills of more than 60,000 mobile subscribers as well as survey data from over 3,000 teens.). Here’s a glimpse:

If it seems like American teens are texting all the time, it’s probably because on average they’re sending or receiving 3,339 texts a month. That’s more than six per every hour they’re awake – an 8 percent jump from last year… No one texts more than teens (age 13-17), especially teen females, who send and receive an average of 4,050 texts per month. Teen males also outpace other male age groups, sending and receiving an average of 2,539 texts. Young adults (age 18-24) come in a distant second, exchanging 1,630 texts per month (a comparatively meager three texts per hour).

It’s funny to see that 65+ mark not even registering. I know there’s gotta be something there, because my dad (69 this year) sends a few texts a month– not many, but a few. He’ll receive texts from my kids and text back. I don’t know how common that is (my kids just have a rockin grampa!!!)

Click here for the whole report from Nielson.

The Content Behind The Top Ten

Posted on: 10/18/10 2:59 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I always find it intriguing to see what kids are currently listening to. Last weekend at the parent workshop I taught in Philly, I encouraged parents to jump onto iTunes any given day, see what the top songs were, watch snippets of the videos and Google the lyrics.

Let’s take a quick peek at a few of today’s top songs that kids are downloading.

#1 Song: Like a G6, by the Far East Movement.


Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard
When we drink we do it right gettin slizzard
Sippin sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6
Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6…

…Get them bottles poppin, we get that drip and that drop
Now give me 2 more bottles cuz you know it don’t stop
Hell Yeaa
Drink it up, drink-drink it up…

The message is clear. No need to go into more detail, I blogged all about it last week.

#2 Only Girl (in the World), by Rihanna

The video is #1, which really surprises me. It’s painfully boring– I really doubt it will remain #1 very long. It shows her dancing around… being Rihanna (or as the American Psychological Association would put it, “sexualized”).

The lyrics:

Want you to make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world
Like I’m the only one that you’ll ever love
Like I’m the only one who knows your heart
Only girl in the world…

Forget the video for a second. I find those lyrics very Interesting–a plea to be “the only one that you’ll ever love.” Those are pretty monogamous words from such a non-committal, ‘hookup’ society. What a good discussion point to start conversations with teenagers.

Oh… but just in case you think the song might be just about love. Don’t get your hopes up. Today’s music almost always has to include sex as well. The song goes on…

Take me for a ride
Oh baby, take me high
Let me make you first
Oh make it last all night
Take me for a ride
Oh baby, take me high
Let me make you first
Make it last all night

#3 Just a Dream, by Nelly

Okay, this has to be the cleanest thing I’ve ever heard out of Nelly (he doesn’t have an album without the EXPLICIT warning). It’s a pretty catchy song and kids love it. It was the only slow song they played at the dance I chaperoned two weekends ago.

Here’s some of the lyrics:

I was at the top and I was like I’m at the basement.
Number one spot and now she found her a replacement.
I swear now I can’t take it, knowing somebody’s got my baby.
And now you ain’t around, baby I can’t think.
Shoulda put it down. Shoulda got that ring.
Cuz I can still feel it in the air.
See her pretty face run my fingers through her hair.

My lover, my life. My shorty, my wife.
She left me, I’m tied.
Cuz I knew that it just ain’t right.

I was thinkin about her, thinkin about me.
Thinkin about us, what we gonna be?
Open my eyes, yeah; it was only just a dream.
So I travel back, down that road.
Who she come back? No one knows.
I realize, yeah, it was only just a dream.

Correct me if I’m wrong… but are we hearing another song talking about desiring “one love” from “one person.” It’s almost as if we were created with that desire. Hmmmmmm.

Some other songs of interest.

#6 Raise Your Glass, by Pink

Sigh. Another, “I’m Pink, I’m angry, so I’m drinking” song?


So raise your glass if you are wrong,
In all the right ways,
All my underdogs,
We will never be never be anything but loud
And nitty gritty dirty little freaks
Won’t you come on and come on and raise your glass,
Just come on and come on and raise your glass

Slam slam, oh hot damn
What part of party don’t you understand,
Wish you’d just freak out (freak out already)
Can’t stop, coming in hot,
I should be locked up right on the spot
It’s so on right now (so f**kin on right now)

I quote Pepito from Doctor DoLittle 2. “So young. So angry. D*mn that rap music!”

#7 Bottoms Up, by Trey Songz, featuring Nicki Minaj

Here’s a screenshot from the video.

Any questions?

#8 Club Can’t Handle Me, by Flo Rida

Flo Rida, known for his mega hit, Low, the #1 song of the year in 2008, is back again. This time with more of the same. Good dance music that all the kids love, with lyrics that all the parents hate:

Still feelin myself I’m like outta control
Can’t stop now more shots lets go
Ten more rounds can I get a Kato
Paparazzi trying to make me pose
Came to party to I came no more
Celebrate coz that’s all I know
Tip the groupies takin off their clothes


So what should we do as parents and youth workers?
1. Keep aware. Jump on iTunes like I just did right there and look to see what kids are listening to. Take a peek at the video, Google the lyrics. It’s good to know what music our kids are marinating in.

2. If you hear these songs, use them as a springboard for conversations with kids, just like the Apostle Paul did in Acts 17. I pointed out a few points of discussion above. Or, you can use our free MUSIC DISCUSSIONS at … they provide small group questions, scripture, and everything you need. We’re also about to launch our parenting page that will have MUSIC DISCUSSIONS for parents to use as springboards for conversations with their kids.

Battle of the Philly Cheesesteaks

Posted on: 10/16/10 1:57 PM | by Jonathan McKee

So I’m in Philly for the weekend doing one of my parenting workshops at a local high school and preaching at a church Sunday a.m. I flew in yesterday and met with some new youth worker friends today for lunch. They asked me where I wanna go, I said, “Some place truly ‘Philly.'”

They said, “Okay, we gotta take you to get a cheesesteak.”

Here’s where it got interesting.

There are three cheesesteak places here that have really made a name for themselves. Two of them (Geno’s and Pat’s) are huge rivals and right across the street from each other, and the other is a little place in South Philly called Tony Luke’s. My friends like Tony Luke’s the best, so off we went!

As you can see from the picture, this little outdoor dive was PACKED with a line of people all the way down the street! We waited for about 20 minutes and when we finally made it to the front, I let my friend Chris order for me. He ordered the traditional cheesesteak with grilled onions and the cheese wizz.

Yeah… it didn’t sound appetizing to me either.

But then I tasted it.

Pretty good! Surprisingly good actually! No, it’s no Giordano’s Pizza (shout out to Chicago), but it was definitely worth the wait! Plus, the atmosphere was authentic Philly. It was like going to The Varsity in Atlanta. More of an experience than  mindblowing food.

We then drove through South Philly wear Rocky ran, then through the downtown, etc. Great town, great history.

Back to work. I’m throwing some last minute touches on my parenting seminar. Gonna show them a few music video snippets tonight (Katy Perry, Miley, Far East Movement…)

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What Are Kids Learning from “Like a G6”

Posted on: 10/14/10 4:09 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay, I’d love your thoughts on this video. Kids cheered when it came on at the dance I chaperoned the other night, it’s at the top of all the charts… all kids know this song right now! The song is Like a G6. It’s got a great beat and is really catchy.

Adults keeps asking me, “What does that mean? Is it code for something really bad?” lol  As far as I understand, “G6” is a really nice jet (yes, as well as a nice car. But I think they are referring to the 50 million dollar Gulfstream G650 in this context.), and the song is just saying that they are “fly like a G6.” In other words, when they “get those bottles poppin” they are “amazingly cool like one of the nicest personal jets around!” In slang usage, only something really good would be described as “G6.” (“Want to go hang with some girls in Tyler’s Escalade?” “Oh yeah! That would be so G6!”)

The sad part about this video is that it is all about the drinking. Heck, I’m Irish, and my first thoughts were, “Dang, this is a lot of drinking!” Funny, the school played it at the dance the other night, but kicked kids out for drinking. (Nice example of sending a double message.)

Check out the video and post your comments below using the blogs comment feature. Remember, each day someone comments, their name goes in the hopper once again for our contest this month. (Contest Details here!)

Stories from Mom’s Protecting Kids Online

Posted on: 10/13/10 11:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week I shared with you about a lunch I had with an FBI agent who was picking my brain about kids in today’s culture, the dangers they face, etc. This guy has helped develop a piece of software that helps parents monitor their kids’ browsing habits online. Many of you jumped onto the site to sign up for their free beta-test.

I told you that I’d provide you with some stories of real moms and dads who tried out this software called Parental Options. Interesting stuff. Here’s a few:

1)      My  husband and I were attending a  prayer vigil  at our church.  Our time slot was from 11:00 pm to midnight.  At about 11:30 pm, my cell phone began to vibrate.  Parental Options was sending me an alert that our son was on the computer.  We set usage parameters for his computer until 10:00 pm, and he was on the computer while we were away from home.  I sent a text home and the computer was turned off.
2)      There are a number of times where the software has helped us to know just how much time was spent on Facebook and other interesting websites vs. getting homework done.  We expect our kids will multi-task but it is an eye opener for us (and them) when you can take a look at something that is recording the frequency (and duration) of toggling between a word document and Facebook for example.  Healthy conversations are a result.  Parental Options software has facilitated our ability to talk about the content available via the internet just as we would about TV or movies.  Our kids are not navigating this part of their lives alone.
3)      My daughter was engaged in IM chat in Facebook around 2am with someone that she had just met at school.  (She was up doing homework). The Parental Options program highlighted all of the words in the chat conversation that are “grooming” words (words that signal that a person is trying to get to know someone, and establish a trusted relationship with them).  The program was teaching us what to look for when reviewing her activity. 
4)      I got the software just to check on my kids’ internet browsing from time to time.  Unfortunately, I found that one of my boys had visited some pornographic sites. (Parental Options says that viewing browser history alone isn’t completely reliable because kids can use multiple browsers and erase some history while keeping the rest. I didn’t know that.) 
5)      My son was playing an online game and chatting there with a “friend” from school.  This “friend” was bullying him and using language that would tear apart anyone’s self confidence. This was caught and addressed because the software highlighted some of the words that were used in the conversation. ( At this point, not all bullying language will be highlighted because people can be vicious in such diverse ways.  But, with the software running, you always have the opportunity to scan the chat and ask your child about the person they were interacting with.)   

Here’s the web site where you can read a little more about it:  …I’m pretty impressed with what I have seen so far.

Will I Let My Kids Go Next Time?

Posted on: 10/11/10 1:08 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Will I let my kids go to the next high school dance?

That’s truly a tough one.

It’s the question I keep hearing now that I’ve had this inside peek into a public high school dancemy own kids’ high school dance!!

High school dances are an American “rite of passage” to many. I’ve seen good and bad. Sadly, the lack of clean music has made the situation much more difficult.

For those who are curious of my two cents… I pour my heart out and answer the above question in this brand new Youth Culture Window article: IN THE DARK– A Sobering Peek into a Public High School Dance.

Here’s just a snippet:

Her date wrapped his arms around her front and she backed up, pushing herself against him, moving in a motion that would have made her blush in any other context, but the darkness and the safety of this crowd covered any embarrassment. Tonight this dark room was no place for second thoughts.

This is what he wants, she thought to herself. He’ll like me if I do this. He’ll notice me when I wear this. After all, if I don’t do this for him, there are a hundred other girls who are willing to.

Blame it on the music or the company she keeps or a dad who didn’t give his little daughter enough hugs. Regardless of the cause, another young girl has given up her innocence in exchange for a lie. It’s the norm to give your date a lap dance.

I’ve read dozens of articles and studies about the “sexualization” of today’s young girls. I’ve written about it and cited it in the media. But Saturday night I was surrounded by it. Literally hundreds of girls played the part our culture has written for them: Be a sex object.

I’ve always thought I had a pretty good finger on the pulse of youth culture. I know what goes on at school dances. After all the articles I’ve read on the subject, as well as the ones we’ve written on our own site, not to mention the plethora of MTV Video Music Award shows I’ve reviewed… I really didn’t think I could be shocked. But last night I was flabbergasted. It was sobering to see the effect of sexualization first hand— young girls with dresses so short that their underwear often peaked out from underneath, and literally hundreds of girls “backing up” into guys and rubbing up against them throughout the evening…