Tuesday, October 4, 2016

When Your Child Becomes a Global Pariah

If you're a parent, you know the feeling.

Your kid does something so embarrassing, you just want to hide. You know you did the same to your parents, but that doesn't help. There's nothing quite like it.

But what if your child's transgression is not a private matter? What if your child not only does something awful, but the deed is exposed to your community, or your child is foolish enough to post it online as well, and spark the next whirlwind of global condemnation?

What if your son or daughter becomes the social media poster child for everything that is evil and wrong with "this generation"?

You may have seen the recent video of a teen abusing a dead dog's corpse, and you may have read the predictable pile-on from outraged strangers pointing out the obvious and heaping shame on someone they'll probably never know.

The video is truly awful, and the young man's actions beyond the pale.


How in the world could you possibly respond as a parent?

How would you manage to address your child's obvious failure, as well as their intense vulnerability, at the same time? How would you juggle your horror at your child's conduct, along with your disgust at the bloodlust of the hordes calling for your child's head?

How you respond might depend on what your child has already seen from you:

How do you respond when it's someone else's kid who does something awful?

How do your kids see you respond to the nuisances and outrages of your own life, as well as the many grievances shared online by your friends all the time?

How have your children heard you speak about those who have wronged you? About strangers who have done terrible things, at least terrible things that you haven't done yourself?

Does your child have reason to believe there is grace for an offender?

Has your son or daughter seen someone receive love in the aftermath of error, even when that error brought devastating consequences? Do your kids know that someone can be sent to prison, alienate their spouse, fail their children, lose their career, destroy their health, squander their fortune, offend the most basic human sensibilities, ruin their reputation, even become the next You Tube pariah...and still be so important to God that He has already paid the price to redeem them?

Does your child know a Lord who spoke the word that made powerful men drop the rocks they were ready to throw at a woman so ashamed she might have welcomed an untimely death?

If not, what will your kids expect to experience someday when this happens to them?        

One day it won't be a stranger exposed for some terrible deed.

One day it won't be so simple.

One day no one will understand the whole story.

One day you'll want nothing more than for someone to be kind, even in the face of an offense no one can overlook.