Words. Our world revolves around these little things that have lasting power and consequences.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Proverbs 18:21, NASB)
As children, we were taught to think before we speak. As adults, it seems we need to call to mind what our own parents taught us, not only in thinking before we speak, but in thinking before we share—online, that is.
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4:5, NLT)
I love my children like crazy. I get incredibly excited when they achieve new goals like swimming across the pool and reading toy instructions on their own. I also get frustrated when they don’t listen for the tenth time or growl at each other instead of speaking. Do you see the key word in those sentences? “I.” I get excited. I get frustrated. It is not about them—it is about me. Since they are not me, I should make every effort to respect their present and protect their future! What God has in store for my children, I don’t know, but what I do know is it is theirs and not mine. While the temptation can be to live vicariously through our kids, we need to resist this temptation and recognize the potential damage it can cause down the road. Furthermore, my children (and perhaps yours) are currently unbelievers, and I want to live (and post) wisely for them. Whether they will recognize this as a blessing, I don’t know, but I hope in some way it will give them the freedom to be known for who they are rather than the perceptions (right or wrong) my online dialogue about them creates.
When it comes to the internet, we need to use it wisely—especially if we want our children to follow suit. Posting every little (or big) detail needs to be considered carefully. It is so easy to blissfully press “share” and have our words permanently branded online. But forever is a mighty long time, and our children deserve for their parents to think before they post. Example: Naked potty training pictures. I know you’ve seen them, because I’ve seen dozens. While it may seem you are sharing these “big” parenting moments with your friends and family, you are also sharing with potential predators. (If you’ve not read the last post on sexual predators, please click here.) I know this is never the underlying intention or no parent would dare post these images. But the reality is, this is reality! We don’t know who is watching, reading, and taking notes about our kids. What should we do when we want to let everyone know what our families are up to these days? We should remember to THINK.
T: Is it True?
H: Is it Helpful?
I: Is it Inspiring?
N: Is it Necessary?
K: Is it Kind?
Many homes have this acronym displayed, but it isn’t just a cute little saying some parent thought up; it reflects what God thought up for us to put in action.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
It wasn’t all that long ago that we didn’t even have cell phones. Now we can’t fathom getting from point A to point B without one in hand. We “need” it for emergencies, pictures, and even the grocery list. This instant access to the world wide web is a somewhat new phenomenon, and while we are increasingly comfortable with it, we are also becoming increasingly careless. In our comfort, we tend to forget that the entire world—from friends, family and even future employers—will assume they know our families and children because of the online presence we have chosen or not chosen to provide. What may be left are children who can’t escape the image their parents have created via social media. Let us be thoughtful of our kids and respect them as individuals—those they are today and those they will become tomorrow. When they grow and decide to make themselves known, that is their right. From the pictures to the random tweets, we want this generation of kids to know their parents thought about the long-term ramifications of their words before leaving a forever mark about their lives.
This is not meant to be a condemning post. We all have different opinions on parenting, and we will all make different choices. This is simply an observation by a mom who has a love/hate relationship with technology. Even when used with the best of intentions, the internet has damaging consequences that we can’t always see. We are all guilty of doing or saying things we can live to regret—all I am suggesting is that we pause before potentially doing those things for our children. Share your ups, your downs, your daily routines—but share those of your children with great care for the sake of their future and your future relationship with them.
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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