Our Kids are Watching

Posted on: 06/8/20 6:38 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This Thursday I’m posting a new article on our PARENTING HELP page helping moms and dads not only talk with their kids about the stressful news they’re seeing and hearing, but also providing them a solid foundation in an otherwise shaky world. Here’s just a snippet of that article…

If you have kids under 18, then the last few weeks…scratch that…months have probably invoked more fear and unrest than they have ever experienced looking at the world around them.

First Covid-19, then the tragic killing of George Floyd, then the outbreak of violence in the streets… all of these issues dividing people instead of united them. Millions of American homes have news channels on right now that aren’t reporting news as much as “casting blame.”

I’ve been alive 50 years, and I’ve never seen our country so divided.

I don’t think many adults are stopping to consider…our kids are watching.

Our Kids are Watching
A black man is killed by a policeman on national TV. Our kids are watching.

Looters throw garbage cans through store windows and carry out televisions. Our kids are watching.

Politicians point their fingers. Our kids are watching.

The world pauses to remember George Floyd, even on kids’ channels. Our kids are watching.

Parents turn on that news station they love so much and watch editorialists shake their heads and point their fingers for hours upon hours. Our kids are watching.

Brands speak out and voice their protests in unique ways. Our kids are watching.

Grampa gets mad at the TV screen and starts casting more blame. Our kids are watching.

What are our kids gleaning from all of this pain, violence, bitterness, and unrest? More importantly, how can we talk with them about all they are observing?

Here is yet another situation where being proactive is always better than being reactive. Right now the entire world is reacting, many acting without thinking. What our kids need is a solid foundation in an otherwise shaky world.

So how can we anchor our kids to this solid foundation?

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Posted on: 05/26/20 7:21 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Four Statements Christians Really Need to Rethink

Pastors are making huge decisions this week, the choice to resume worship as normal, or wait a little longer… or somewhere in between. This means filtering through all the “spin” that everyone is spewing right now.

This post has no spin.

I have no political or religious agenda.

I’m just tired of hearing people make important decisions without all the facts. You can’t just read the headlines.

Here’s four statements I continue to hear out of people’s mouths that really need rethinking…  (and the research you need to see)

1. “Doctors say masks really don’t help.”

I understand the confusion, and it’s frustrating. But the fact is… it’s just not true.

Read carefully.

When I first saw ignorant emails being forwarded around mid-March, I went to two places to find truth, and I have to admit, I was highly disappointed. I went on the World Health Organization (WHO) website and the CDC and read both their instructions in detail. The first thing both these sites said was something like, “masks won’t protect you.” (Some of the first words out of their mouth on the WHO website video is still, “Medical masks like this one cannot protect against the new Coronavirus when used alone.”)

But that wasn’t the complete truth…and here’s why.

Whenever people in power talk, they don’t really communicate what needs to be said, instead they communicate what they think people need to hear, and sadly what “can’t be used against us” later. Both WHO and the CDC made a huge mistake here. These websites were both practicing CYA. Plus, masks were in short supply for health workers. So it’s probably best to tell people they don’t need them, right?

Both sites conveyed, “Masks don’t help.” And since most people read no further than the headlines, immediately I began hearing people saying, “Masks don’t work anyway.”

Here’s the thing. If people would have kept reading, even back then they would have found the following truths:

1. Both sites recommended from the beginning that if you are going to be in the vicinity of someone with COVID-19, wear a mask. (But wait… I thought they didn’t work?) Then both sites also said that you never know who has COVID—19. Hmmmm.

2. Both sites said masks aren’t good if you get COVID-19 on your hands, then touch your face while removing your mask. So wash your hands!  And learn how to take on and take off a mask.

3. Both sites said masks are good in that they actually keep most people from touching their face.

And here’s the thing: Now on the WHO website you’ll see it says:

Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Read that again. Masks are effective….Uh… that means masks work.

And now the CDC website posted the following update:  (emphasis mine)

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States.  We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

Bottom line: when you’re going out to the grocery store, please just put on a mask (my daughter made some cool ones with dinosaurs on them). And if you’re going to go in a church building with other people…wear a mask.

Speaking of going to church, that brings up the second statement we need to rethink…

2. “The government is just trying to suppress religion. They allow marijuana dispensaries to stay open, but they aren’t allowing people to worship.”

Oh man. We’re opening a can of worms here, so let me be very clear (and again, I’m going to show you several helpful studies).

I don’t like marijuana dispensaries (and no, I’m not against your aunt getting medicinal marijuana when she got “the cancer”, I’m against college students smoking a bowl every morning because they claim it’s helping their stress. More on that here in my article, Just One Thing Your Kids Need to know about Weed.)

The point is, don’t let our frustrations effect our wise judgement.

Here’s the facts. Whether you like smoke shops or not, typically a person can go into one wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and then leave. Just like CVS (except CVS doesn’t give you the munchies).

Church is much more like a concert or ball game. You’re sitting right next to someone for an hour, you’re talking or singing or shouting, all indoors. (And yes, if you’re already getting amped up and saying we can solve each of these, I agree with you… just hold on).

If you don’t realize how serious this is, look at several examples, like the Skagit County Washington choir practice, as reported by the CDC. (And if you’re going to open your church, PLEASE read this study in full)(and yes, I’m quick to forgive the CDC for their earlier impass). 

The short of it is, one person was symptomatic in a 122-member choir, and eventually 53 people became ill, three were hospitalized and two died. And in case you’re skeptical about the validity of the 53, I encourage you to read the report, because 33 of them were confirmed, and 20 probable (and even 33 is huge).

The CDC study reads: “The 2.5-hour singing practice provided several opportunities for droplet and fomite transmission, including members sitting close to one another, sharing snacks, and stacking chairs at the end of the practice.” The study goes into even greater detail.

This isn’t a fluke example. In fact, The CDC reported about another church in rural Arkansas where 2 symptomatic people attended church, later who tested positive for COVID-19. 35 of the 92 attendees got COVID-19, and three died. Sadly, it didn’t stop at the church doors. An additional 26 cases linked to the church occurred in the community, including one death.

And these churches aren’t alone.

Bottom line: we need to rethink the way we do church while COVID-19 is still a threat. And yes, I understand that the Coronavirus was much more rampant in March, which is when many of these examples happened. But consider this: in each of these situations it only took 1 or 2 people.

Are you willing to bet the lives of your congregation?

Yes, I know life is full of risks.

Yes, I know that it’s not fair that gun shops and churches are closed, and smoke shops are open.

But that doesn’t change the facts. I’m not saying don’t do church. Do it. But you need to rethink the way you’re going to do church this coming Sunday (in the same way the world is seriously postponing and rethinking the way they do large events), which leads me to the third statement we need to reconsider…

3. “I don’t care what anyone says, we’re going to sing this Sunday.”

Our governor in California laid out guidelines for churches this week and one of them was “no singing.” If you just read the above reports, you see why. But for some reason this is a point of contention for many. Some of you might have seen some viral videos this week of people speaking out about this (some from people who are typically dogmatic on issues, speaking first, thinking later…)

Here’s the thing: If any doctor were to truly read the above CDC reports about church, I know they would recommend the following to be safe: (And I’ll keep it simple)

1. People need to wear masks. Period.

2. No singing. 

3. Practice social distancing.

4. No communion, snacks, eating or drinking of any kind.

5. Have hand sanitizer widely available.

Are these logistical messes? Yes. But that’s okay.

And honestly, I think if churches have the option, it’s probably even smarter to meet outside rather than in a petri dish… I mean… building.

And finally, I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard this one…

4. “We’re done with this. We’re not social distancing anymore.”

Last week I was shopping for my family. I have three “high risk” people on our property, two people over 75 and a pregnant woman. So I’ve been wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing social distancing every time I go to the grocery store.

Less than half the people in my community wear masks.

Last week I was in the grocery store and a dad and his 7-year-old son (both unmasked) came down the same isle as me, got so close to me he literally brushed up against me, and then they went on their way. I watched them and they did the same to others. Their body language was reeking, “Get out of our way. This whole COVID thing is stupid.”

A little reminder: We are almost at 100,000 COVID deaths in the U.S. alone.

Sorry to inconvenience you, sir.

Guess what. If you don’t want to wear a mask, I can’t make you. But if you’re rubbing up next to people unmasked, it only takes once. Again… your risk. But if you are now a carrier, you might not even know it, and you are now “forcing” others to engage in that risk with you.

Just to be clear. I think we need to be proactively reopening businesses, surgeries, etc. But we need to get rid of this attitude of, “I’m done with this.”

“It’s no big deal.” I’ve heard some say.

Tell that to my friend who lost both his parents to COVID-19.

This Sunday churches have an opportunity to show wisdom and grace to their congregation and their community. Don’t look back a month from now and regret saying something in ignorance.

Don’t kill your congregation

Posted on: 04/2/20 7:38 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Dare I write, don’t be an idiot.

It’s scriptural.

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. (I Peter 2: 12)

What does “honorable behavior” mean during these times? 

It means don’t be the fool who still insists churches keep meeting together during the Coronavirus when Continue reading “Don’t kill your congregation”

Sexual Orientation and Suicide Attempts

Posted on: 02/18/20 3:11 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you saw headlines about the number of young people identifying as LGBTQ doubling in the last decade and attempted suicide rates four times higher than their heterosexual peers. This week I’ll be unpacking those numbers, but more importantly… how we should respond.

The American Academy of Pediatrics just posted a brand new study looking at the disparities among US adolescents from 2009 to 2017 (which are the newest numbers they have from the CDC Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance data, something I’ve written to you about before). The bottom line:

Does New Research Really Reveal Social Media Isn’t Harmful?

Posted on: 01/23/20 12:37 PM | by Jonathan McKee

A few days ago the New York Times released an article titled, Panicking about Your Kids’ Phones? New Research Says Don’t. The subtitle reads, “A growing number of academics are challenging assumptions about the negative effects of social media and smartphones on children.”

So does this article hold water?

I mean, “panicking” definitely doesn’t sound like the answer, but is it true that this new research is revealing social media might not have so many negative effects? What about all the solid research that too much time screen time and social media is linked to Continue reading “Does New Research Really Reveal Social Media Isn’t Harmful?”

Instagram takes HUGE stride towards mental health

Posted on: 11/14/19 1:05 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri made an announcement last week that was music to my ears, actually putting mental health above “LIKES.”

Instagram will test “hiding LIKES” in the US because of the pressure it puts on today’s young people.

“We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s well-being and health,” said Mosseri.

Most of you saw my recent post, The Unforeseen Problem with Insta Followers: Why Pedophiles and Sex Traffickers Are Loving Social Media, an article unveiling two “unforeseen” dangers with social media, one of them being the negative effect that those little numbers at the top of the screen (Likes and Followers) are having on today’s young people Continue reading “Instagram takes HUGE stride towards mental health”

Teens & Social Media 2018

Posted on: 09/17/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Common Sense Media just came out with their brand new report about teens and social media revealing exactly how many teens now have smartphones (89%),  their favorite apps (Snapchat), their feelings about how social media makes them feel (they’re fooling themselves) … here’s their infographic with the highlights: Continue reading “Teens & Social Media 2018”

Does Google and Apple care about your kids’ digital addiction?

Posted on: 06/5/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yes and finally yes? (It’s about time!)

We’ve all heard stories of tech companies concocting evil plans to launch new gadgets and apps addicting children to their devices. Sound like a rumor? Sadly, these legends have proved to be true on many levels. Like when former Facebook president Sean Parker had second thoughts about what the social network was doing to our children’s brains and cast a little insight behind the scenes.

“It was developed to be addictive,” he admitted.

He wasn’t alone in his concerns. In fact a Continue reading “Does Google and Apple care about your kids’ digital addiction?”

Where to Get Practical Parenting Help

Posted on: 02/6/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In two hours (at 9AM Pacific time) several thousand parents will receive our FREE “Parenting Help” email which always contains three helpful resources for today’s parents. Take a peek… because you might want to make sure this helpful resource is hitting your inbox twice a month:

  1. This “Parenting Help” email always includes our newest “Parenting Help” article, like the one I just wrote with three tools to engage your kids to not only remove their headphones… but tune you in. I always write these articles based on the biggest questions I’m hearing from parents online and at my parent workshops. We have an entire page of these articles that hopefully do exactly what the title implies… “help parents” with practical tools they need. Look at the last five articles I’ve written Continue reading “Where to Get Practical Parenting Help”

Mom, Is Justin Bieber a Christian?

Posted on: 01/9/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s a question kids are asking, and a question Moms don’t quite know how to answer.

Similar to the question, “Mom, is Chance the Rapper a Christian?” …you can’t help but wonder, who am I to even answer that question?

But it’s being asked.

Maybe we’re confused because we’ve read about Justin’s troubles with the law (from 2014 granted) or heard him singing and collaborating on some pretty worldly tracks (okay, maybe that’s a little more recent)… and then moments later we see him unashamedly dancing to worship music or posting a powerful Instagram post praising Jesus for “changing me from the inside out.” Continue reading “Mom, Is Justin Bieber a Christian?”