Keeping my Kids Uncool

cool kidsI’ll never forget the advice I heard from a mom of teens when all four of my boys were not even in school yet. She told me, “Trust me, you don’t want your kids to be popular.” At first this surprised me. Of course I wanted other kids to like my boys. I sure liked them. But as the years advanced and each boy made their own way through the grade levels, I have come to understand better exactly what she meant. She was right—maybe popular wasn’t the exact word, but I definitely don’t want my kids to be “cool” and “cool” is very often popular.

I have been teaching at the middle school level for 26 years and “cool” has rarely ever been something that I would want for my kids.

What do Cool kids do?

  • They must have cool friends.  That means they have to be careful about whom they talk to and who talks to them. This is stress inducing. At any moment their own cool factor could rise or fall simply because of the people they interact with.
  • Cool kids don’t like their parents. Parents are uncool/lame. So enjoying hanging out as a family on the weekends or asking parents for advice is therefore uncool.
  • Cool kids like cool music.  Whatever is new and popular is deemed cool. Often it is songs with sexual lyrics and random cursing. Cursing is cool.
  • Cool kids swear. Not just “stub your toe” swearing which I don’t support either, but three variations of the same curse word in one sentence swearing.
  • Cool kids have cool stuff and do cool  stuff. This is expensive. Part of keeping your cool score up is having the same stuff that the cool kids have. It gets you closer to the inner circle. It doesn’t matter if you like it, only that you have it.
  • Cool kids “date” a lot. Starting even in upper elementary school, the cool boys like the cool girls and the cool girls are flattered with the attention and vice versa. Having 5-7 “girlfriends” or “boyfriends” in a school year is not uncommon. Once the tween or young teen begins this serial “dating” it’s hard to stop because that might imply that no one is willing to date them and their cool standard might suffer.
  • Cool kids are highly sexualized. The girls tend to dress sexy and welcome the attention that it brings from boys who are attracted to that. The boys tend to talk a lot about their own body parts as well as the body parts of girls in their viewing area from the lunch table in the cafeteria. Specific comments that I have heard over the years would cause you to shudder.
  • Cool kids consume high levels of media. This is how they got so sexualized. Magazines, YouTube videos, television shows, and popular movies perpetuate what is cool. Girls often obsess about current fashion trends while boys laugh and retell scenes from “R” movies featuring weak, immature male role models.
  • Cool kids manage their image on social media. It’s their “job” to collect followers and LIKES. Presenting just the right selfie or commenting just the right witty remark on someone else’s post takes work.
  • Cool kids text—a lot! Staying connected 24/7 is a must. Kids often text into the night and then keep the phone near them in case a text comes in while they are sleeping. Group texts can go on for months, sucking up hours of a teen’s life so that they won’t miss out on an “LOL” or a “What’s up?”

Is it clear why I don’t want my boys to be “cool?” It’s stressful for them. And it’s time-consuming. And it breeds insecurity. And it’s often ugly. But most importantly, it doesn’t allow them the freedom to become the men who God designed them to be.

Middle school is the time when kids are desperately trying to figure out who they are apart from their parents. This is good. This is natural. But by chasing the elusive “cool factor” they get distracted figuring out who they think they are supposed to be rather than confidently maturing into who they were designed to be.

As parents one of our greatest gifts is staying close and connected emotionally, demonstrating unconditional love that holds fast even during their mistakes, and gently pointing them away from the insecurity of “cool” and toward the confident man or woman that God has created them to be.

(NOTE: I will do follow-up posts on the bulleted points above sharing specific ways that we have addressed these issues.)

Keeping my Kids Uncool





  1. you are so right, woman!

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