Dads and Junior Proms

Posted on: 03/12/12 5:13 PM | by Jonathan McKee

My daughter Alyssa is a junior this year. The junior year brings numerous ‘rites of passage’ for a teenage girl. For Alyssa, it’s the year that she got her driver’s license, began working, took the SAT’s… and it’s also the year of Junior Prom.

A little over a month ago the two of us were outside working on our weed-eater (My daughter is awesome! She mows lawns for four different people.), and she asked me, “Dad, you don’t want me to go to junior prom, do you?”

The phrasing of Alyssa’s question in itself caught me off guard this time. I wondered… Why does she assume I won’t let her go? Is this a good thing—because she knows I don’t like what goes on at school dances? Or is this her feeling, “Dad is waaaaay too strict!” Either way, I liked the fact that she was talking to me about it.

This subject matter isn’t new to my blog and articles. Two years ago I shared with you a little bit about what goes on in the dark at school dances. Then last year I blogged about when Alyssa asked me, “Dad, Can I Go to the Homecoming Dance?” (You’ll have to read that if you want to know if I let her go.) Today I wrote a guest post about it on Doug’s blog at

I’m sure I’m not the only dad who is going to hear that question this year, from both daughters and sons. So the question I have for you is simply, how are you going to have that conversation?

Last week I wrote a Youth Culture Window article asking that very question, and providing you with a tool that might help you get your teenagers talking about this subject. In this article I actually recommend that you rent the 2011 film, Footloose, and discuss it with your kids afterwards. (In that article I provide discussion questions you can use.)

Let me be transparent. Our kids aren’t always going to be open to these teaching moments. When I told my own girls that it would be fun to watch the film, my youngest, Ashley, was skeptical. “Dad, how many times are you going to pause and talk?” She knows that I love those “pause button moments.” She started doing a “Daddy” impression, making fun of my teaching moments (it was pretty funny—I might just have to catch one of those impressions on film for you guys).

Footloose isn’t the only tool to get your teenagers talking. Last week I wrote about using YouTube. The tool isn’t important… the conversations, however, are.

What tools do you use to get your teenagers talking?

What are some of the issues that you find it difficult to get your teenagers talking about?

Doctor’s Provide First Sign of Good News

Posted on: 03/11/12 2:38 PM | by Jonathan McKee

On Saturday I went to my eye doctor’s for my 6th day in a row… but for the first time heard a piece of good news! “I think the meds are working! No surgery needed for now.”

As the doctor moved me from one room to the other to hook my head up to yet another colossal machine, I caught a glimpse of my wife Lori in the hallway and gave her a quick thumbs up. She later told me that that little gesture was the first relief she felt in a week (Up to this point, the week had been full of nothing but thumbs downs, sad-face emoticon texts, and a frequent use of the words, “not good.”)

Apparently the multiple eye injections, my regular doses of 4 oral meds, and my four sets of eye drops are finally working. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” the retinal specialist said. “But if your eye progresses like it has in the last 24 hours for the next 24 hours, it looks good!”

Today (Sunday) we went in again and her projection was correct. The antibiotics are doing their job and now we are focusing on the prednisone to get my eye to try to take care of my cornea graft (my cornea transplant from over a decade ago). I go in again tomorrow morning (yes, my 7th day in a row) to see my cornea specialist to try to get a grasp how much damage has been done (I went from complete snowblind on Thursday to now reading three lines on the eye chart).

Bottom line: More drops and meds this week, plenty of rest… and I can slowly get back to writing, AND I shouldn’t have to miss any of my upcoming workshops I’m teaching in the next few weekends. (Do you hear that MI and NE!)

Wow! What a ride!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and kind comments in my blogs the last few days (even James… you turd!)

Tonight I’m going to take my own advice from my current Youth Culture Window article and rent the new Footloose, watch it with my daughters, and ask them those discussion questions the article provided about dancing! (I think my eye patch makes either makes me more intimidating or gives me sympathy points.)

Zombie Eye

Posted on: 03/9/12 12:50 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I just arrived home from my 5th day straight of my right eye being poked and injected by the doctor. I’m drugged up pretty good right now, only hurts a little to look at the computer screen. I thought I’d jump on really quick to keep you all posted. Thanks for your prayers!

In short? I’ll attach a picture for you visual learners.

Yeah… eew! You can’t see the infection in the eye with your naked eye (I always found that term intriguing… I mean… when does your eye actually wear clothes???), but you can see the redness around it, plus the black and blue from all the injections around the eye—i.e. “zombie eye,” as we call it around here.

You also can’t see the rush of white blood cells clouding my vision. My vision in that eye is still a pure white fog. Been about 36 hours without it now. Doctors are continuing to try to fight an infection that started shortly after getting a couple stitches in my cornea a week ago. The infection has gathered around the bottom of my cornea near one of the stitches. The doctor pulled out the stitch today but wasn’t happy with the progress of the antibiotics they shot directly into my eye yesterday. They made some progress, but the whole debate is whether to go in and do a “punch graft” today at 3PM, which would be a whole new transplant around that section of the eye. That kind of surgery means finding some donor tissue, sewing it in, then long recovery.

They opted to wait on the surgery (whew), keep doing antibiotics, add steroids, waiting til tomorrow to see if they’ll operate. So they shot me with another needle to the eyeball today (so fun), and I’m back home now with my “zombie eye.” Tomorrow (Saturday) I’ll go in for either surgery, or more injections. (Hmmmm… which is the lesser evil at this point?)

Lori said that many of you had commented and emailed. Thanks for praying. Right now I’m praying for this specifically:

  • That they don’t have to do another surgery- that means long recovery
  • That I don’t have to miss my next few speaking engagements. I’m already missing a cool LifeWay event I was to participate in this coming week in Nashville, I’m hoping to not have to miss my training workshops the weeks to follow.
  • For my family. Lori has done two nights of “drops every hour or two” with me, she’s taken me to the doctor daily, stood in pharmacy lines, etc. It’s been insane. She’s amazing. My girls are real troopers too. Alec comes home from college today to see his “zombie eyed” dad. Probably not what he expected to come home to.
  • Our ministry’s finances. If we miss a few of these upcoming speaking trips, this will set our ministry back thousands. All may speaking and training money goes directly toward our ministry, paying for my writers and web staff to keep the resources free on and

God’s in charge. I always look back and see how he worked, in hindsight. So I trust him, looking into the future.

Eye is stinging again… I’m going to call this a wrap! God Bless!

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blog silence

Posted on: 03/8/12 3:46 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m sorry for the blog and email silence.

In short, having some eye problems that started from cornea transplants a decade ago. The last few weeks I’ve had more stitches put in my right eye to try to correct vision, and starting late Sunday night, bigger problems.

Now trying to recover from an infection… doing special antibiotic drops every 30 minutes waking, every 1 hour sleeping (or more accurately “not sleeping”) Tonight, as I write this, my vision has grown cloudy… no answers yet. Very hard to look at glare.

Please keep this in your prayers… don’t know what the future holds.

God’s in charge.

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Using YouTube to Get Your Teenagers Talking

Posted on: 03/5/12 8:52 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week my girls spontaneously engaged in a pleasant conversation with me about guidelines, expectations, and my parenting. It was an amazing talk! It probably lasted 30 to 40 minutes. It all started with a question I asked them when I had them both in the car:

“Did you guys see the YouTube video of the redneck dad who got mad at his daughter’s disrespectful Facebook post, so he posted his own video blowing holes her laptop with his 45?”

They both smiled real big and begged, “Can we see it! Please! Let’s see it on your iPhone right now!”

After watching the video, laughing, clicking on a few of the follow-up videos and laughing some more… we talked…. and talked… and talked.

Thanks YouTube!

Kids are becoming more and more “connected” to Facebook, music and internet video. Parents and adult role models can either fight this trend…. or use it.

I don’t know about your teenagers, but my kids love YouTube. Often when I pick up my 14-year-old from school, the first thing out of her mouth will be something like, “Dad, did you see the YouTube video with the monkey riding on the pig’s back?”

Yes… very intelligent, high quality stuff! I assure you.

The fact is, our kids love YouTube. This can be scary at times because YouTube has some racy stuff. But parents shouldn’t be afraid to use it, especially when they are making efforts to find that delicate balance of teaching their kids discernment, using guardrails, and at the same time allowing their kids to fail while still in the nest. (And no, I’m not suggesting you give your kids free reign to browse whatever they want on YouTube. Rather than me re-iterating past blogs about “setting guidelines,” etc., I encourage you to click the three hyperlinks in this paragraph where I go into great detail on the subject.)

So, if your kids are like mine, use a YouTube video to jump-start discussion. (We actually have an entire page of YouTube discussion starters on our youth ministry site, complete with scriptures and small group discussion questions.) Give it a try. Show them the video of angry redneck dad shooting his girl’s laptop and then ask your kids…

  1. Was the girl right to post these complaint’s on Facebook?
  2. Even though she used an unhealthy way of expressing her feelings, do you think this girl’s parents should listen to some of what this girl is feeling?
  3. How should have the father responded to this girl?
  4. If you were to post an angry note about us (your parents) to your friends, what would it say?
  5. How should we respond to that?

How’s that for a conversation starter?

I’m embed that video here for your convenience:

Oh Yah! Dat’s a Good vun!

Posted on: 03/4/12 9:50 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Blame me for stereotyping, but they really do talk that way in the city of Fargo, North Dakota!

I just finished a fun weekend of speaking at a church in Fergus Falls in Minnesota, a small town about an hour’s drive from the Fargo airport. From Fargo to Fergus Falls I was immersed in Scandinavian culture. The weather is cold, the accents are thick, but the people are warm and personable.

As soon as they discovered I was from California, the response was usually, “Oh, California. Nice weather there, eh?”

That’s the thing about this northern country. It’s really easy to adapt to their language. You just need to add any one of these phrases to the end of your sentence


…don’tcha know?

…you betcha!

Or if you really want to emphasize something…


I have know idea what “Ufta” actually means, but I think it is the sound that a person riding a snowmobile makes when he crashes into a snow bank. Snowmobiling is big out here don’tcha know! (At least they aren’t like California where we just end every interaction by exclaiming, “Dude!”)

I think the cold weather here affects electronics. When I first got in my rental car, my GPS started blinking and then went black for three seconds before finally rebooting itself. I kid you not, when it came on again, the voice changed to a lady speaking German or Norwegian. I thought, Even the electronics are swayed to speak Scandinavian out here.

All said and done, the trip was really rewarding. I never saw any wood chippers, but I did hear “you betcha” more times than one could count.


Posted in Humor, Travel |  | Leave A Comment

Fargo to MN… then MI, NE and CA

Posted on: 03/2/12 2:42 PM | by Jonathan McKee

In the next two months I’ll be doing four parenting workshops in four different states. It all starts this weekend in the gigantic metropolis… Fergus Falls, MN.

I love small towns. Tomorrow I’ll get a good taste of small town America. I fly into Fargo, ND, then hop in my rental car and drive to Fergus Falls, MN. The youth pastor told me today, “The weather’s going to be great. We’re expecting 10 to 20 degrees!”

These aren’t comforting words to a California boy!

We Californians start panicking when we hear it’s going to freeze overnight. “Oh man! Did you hear it’s gonna be down to 30 degrees tonight? I’ve gotta go outside and cover my hibiscus bushes so they don’t die!”

Truth be told, I really don’t mind the cold. Besides, I’m all excited about speaking to parents this weekend. I preach in the morning services over at Fergus Falls First Church of the Nazarene, and then I teach my Parenting the Texting Generation workshop that night from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. If you’re in driving distance, you should come out and join us!

The weeks to follow I’ll be in several more U.S. states preaching and doing the same workshop:

March 25, 2012 (Wyandotte, MI)
Preach, Parent Workshop, First Baptist Church

April 1, 2012 (Ainsworth, NE)
Preach, Parent Workshop, Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church

April 22, 2012 (Fresno, CA)
Preach, Parent Workshop, First Presbyterian Church of Fresno

CLICK HERE if I’m not coming near you and you’d be interested in booking me for a workshop

Four Facts About Sex We Can’t Hush—FACT 4

Posted on: 03/1/12 9:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This week I’ve shared a lot of “facts” about sex. Facts!

Are facts the best way to communicate to young people today?

Facts are necessary, especially when you’re talking about sex. But nothing beats the power of a personal story.

#4: Share Personal Experience

This week I’ve been blogging about the need to tell our kids the explicit truth about sex:

Now it’s time for the fourth and final “fact” about sex that we just can’t keep to ourselves! Share personal experience. I guess I’m cheating a little bit with this last “fact,” because sometimes sex-education becomes just that—a bunch of facts. When in fact (no pun intended), we need to stop sharing facts and share life experience.

Sometimes we can share facts with our kids until we’re blue in the face. We wonder, is any of this sinking in?

Try sharing a story from your own life.

Yesterday I shared how sex is a process. I asked my 16-year-old daughter to proof that blog for me before I posted it. When I was done I asked her what she thought. She liked it, “especially the example about Anthony getting a kiss from his girlfriend in front of his grandmother.” She told me, “That example answered the question so many of us are wondering; how far can we go.” She continued. “Sure, you said, ‘Don’t event start the process.’ But that story explained it in a way I could understand.”

Good stories bring life to facts.

Some of the most powerful lessons are taught from our own life experiences. I’ve taught on the subject of sex hundreds of times. Some of the most powerful venues were the ones where I had someone come up and share their own story.

A few years ago I taught about sexual purity to a group of junior high girls. After teaching much of what I’ve shared above, I had a mom come up and share her own story. All the girls knew this mom because she was a volunteer leader and led a small group with many of the young girls sitting there. This mom shared a story of the first time she had sex. It was her prom. She was 16-years-old. She liked the guy so much and wanted him to like her. She gave away her virginity that night, only for him to break up with her a few days later.

As she shared this vulnerable tale from her own life, the young girls in this room cried with her, moved by, and for some, even identifying with, her story.

As I looked at the feedback from that evening, they enjoyed my presentation and were able to cite some of the truths I shared, but all the girls unanimously cited this woman’s story as having the most powerful impact that evening.

We all have stories to share.

Our kids need to hear stories of purity and the heartbreak we were spared; they need to hear stories of failure and the consequences we experienced. Don’t be afraid to share these stories and the lessons learned. Often, they will be the most remembered “fact” shared.

* * *The-Sex-Talk

If you liked Jonathan’s candid approach to this subject, you’ll really enjoy his books, MORE THAN JUST THE TALK, and SEX MATTERS and others on Jonathan’s Recommended Books page.