Over the next few weeks Jodie and I will be featuring some key concepts about virtues that enable children respond with confidence to the things that disturb the peace in their cyber social realms, such as gossip and bullying. Today’s feature is about the power of choosing humility.
Internet connectivity can make gossip, bullying and sexually exploitive pictures seem so normal for the modern child. This particular internet-hype appeals to the smaller self that seeks control and attention in worldly terms. Think about people posting pictures to appear more successful, prettier, and richer than others; think about gossip and bullying that goes viral; or sexting in order to please a love interest. The temptation to respond impulsively is strong. So when we consider virtue as simply expressing the dignity and power of the human spirit connected to the divinity within, it becomes a choice to be a positive influence in the world in all circumstances (Romans 12:2). For the internet-savvy child this choice can be translated as being in control of yourself and overcoming the manipulations of others.
“Smarty pants” syndrome versus self-governing
No child wants to be duped. They instinctively want to be in command of their own life journey, and the virtue of our faith helps us to govern our own hearts and minds in order to do just that. And yet, in a cyber-powered world, it is easy to believe that everything you need to know about governing your own life you can simply “google”. That is why many parents will be confronted with a “smarty pants” syndrome when children believe they know it all, or even more concerning, they actually know too much for their own good, (think: graphic images of violence or gratuitous sex, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.)
Related reading: Who will your children obey in the social network
So we can explain “self-governance” as recognizing that no human knows it all, and that knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing. Wisdom is knowledge applied in ways that are appropriate for the individual and promotes personal security; wisdom is derived from life experience which parents impart to the willing heart. While being a “smarty pants”, on the other hand, leaves you vulnerable to having knowledge without understanding which can be harmful. We can easily be fooled into believing that we know more than we do about another person, situations and our own circumstances. Speaking from personal experience, being a “smarty pants” can harden your heart to repel wisdom.
In this way, humility is choosing to assert control over the “smarty pants” self, and stand your ground about where you believe your power comes from in the first place. It is the “What Would Jesus Do” model. When you are feeling uneasy or threatened, it is better to pray about it and trust God with the issue first so you can think and act with an intelligent heart, rather than act out impulsively. Impulsiveness is lack of self control; it can be and expression of insecurity and anger – all of which are powerless states of mind and contribute further to the disturbing of the peace.
Power of a humility for parents
By the same token, parents must be humble in their efforts to impart wisdom. Our children’s childhood’s are informing them radically differently than that of our own. We need to be willing to learn from them about how their life experiences are shaping their perceptions without judging. When we judge, then we have put ourselves on a pedestal and there is no humility. Being judgmental is inauthentic because it is rooted in fear emotion, not love and children perceive that it is not safe to talk about what is happening on and off line. And then, imparting wisdom is more challenging. Rather, it is possible to hold ourselves and our children accountable with a merciful heart, and offer a clean slate. In this way, humility is required to govern the home with forgiveness as the strategy to make your home a sanctuary and thereby overcome the bullying and exploitative manipulations of world.
For more about creating a family culture rooted in your faith, check out: Fresh Start
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.
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- Email: Jullien@surewest.net
Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and recovery from addiction. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.