Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Her name means grace

Her name means grace and she stands in it.
She is effortlessly elegant, light shines from her cheeks, and kindness drips from her lips.
Sweet and gentle, she is wise in the eyes.
Her's is beauty that is birthed from deep within her very soul.

Her name means grace and she sings with it.
There is ever a song of hope on her lips, springing from her golden heart. 
Even in silence her message is compassion.
She is a wordsmith, painting peaceful pictures with her voice.

Her name means grace and she speaks with it. 
Not eager to please, but content to bring peace, she is the diplomat, the negotiator, the mediator.
She is the calm in the storm, the lighthouse in raging seas.
Little warriors lay down their wordy weapons at her command.

Her name means grace and she is wrapped in it.
Creator of everything, Father of all, knit her together from strands of stars.
She is cherished by the one who taught whales their song.
For a moment she is ours and we are grateful.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The facebook dilemma

There are pivitol moments when parenting doesn't come with easy decisions. Your almost 13-year-old son approaching you asking to create a facebook account is one of those moments.

This happened to us in the summer as we were packing to move. Our son had very valid reasons to want to be connected online. We were moving away from the only home he had ever known and he wanted to be able to stay in contact with his friends and family.

My objections were just as valid.

At it's best, Facebook is a beautiful social platform from which healthy life-giving messages can be spread, loved ones can stay connected and share pictures and events, and old friends can be reunited. Facebook can be a place of inspiration with the best and simplest moments of mankind shared in a broad community. It can even be a place to find solace and feel like you are not alone when tragedy strikes. It can mobilize people toward common good and educate on global issues. At it's best, Facebook can be a wonderful tool.

At it's worst, Facebook can expose the worst in us. Pictures unintended to be shared can be posted by friends...or foes. Bullies can feel uninhibited without having to see the consequences on their victims faces. The mob mentality can run rampant with quick blame and venomous hatred when sad things happen and perspectives of real incidents aren't fully shared. We can feel justified in slipping a veiled word of insult into our statuses. We can even mistake a forlorn status update for genuine reaching out. At it's worst, Facebook is a breeding ground for the worst in us.

Navigating this online space with honesty, dignity, and discernment can be tricky even for us grown-ups. I can't shelter him forever and certainly he has a deep need to keep in touch with people he loves. Let's face it. His buddies probably aren't going to write him letters.

What tipped the scales for me was finding a box in his room with a T-shirt stretched over it. I was very upset and and told him it was irresponsible to destroy his T-shirt like that! He gave me a very stern look, "That box is inappropriate and that is irresponsible to have in here."

We had picked up boxes from the liquor store to pack with and hadn't bothered to look at what was on them. There is a particular brand of wine named after dogs of the feminine variety......

I pulled the shirt off the box and saw that he had tried to scribble over the word that offended him and couldn't black it out. So I asked him why he couldn't just put the box out of his room if it bothered him. Again, I was surprised at his response, "Right Mom, put it out where my little sisters will see it. Like that's responsible."

It was at this point that we decided Levi could open a facebook account. This kid has a pretty good navigation system of his own.

He knows how to use his words kindly and he knows how to remove things that could hurt someone's feelings from his wall. He talks with us about who he friends and knows he can talk to us about anything he sees there. His privacy settings are high. We have talked with him about the fact that Facebook basically means that his life is public record. What happens in Vegas, doesn't stay in Vegas anymore.

Alex and I know eachother's passwords. This keeps us accountable to each other and saves us from any temptation to say or do anything we wouldn't want the other to see. In the same way, Levi has shared his password with us. I don't care what anyone says about privacy, I value safe accountability higher than my privacy. This doesn't mean we snoop on each others Facebook accounts. Just knowing that someone who cares about us has access helps all of us to think carefully before we press the send button.

The funny thing is, after all of that begging and decision-wrestling and deal-making, he doesn't really use his account anyway. So now he is dealing with the facebook politics of people who think he is ignoring them just because he doesn't respond several times a day. Ah, Facebook.