Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen

As a blogger, I find it fascinating to see what goes viral and how people react. I read the FYI (if you're a teenage girl) blog that exploded all over Facebook this week and had two immediate thoughts:

1. Right on! (I even shared it.)
2. What about the boys? (Which prompted this post.)

When I scrolled down to read the comments on the original blog post, I found that I was far from alone.

One of the comments questioned why we are preaching to our girls to cover up when we should be preaching to our boys, "Son, don't be a creeper." Bingo. On both messages.

Other comments questioned the wisdom (hypocrisy?) of illustrating the blog with photos of the author's shirtless-with-muscles-glistening teenage sons. I get it. Boys are free to go topless. Girls are not. Boys are known to be more visually stimulated than girls. (But have you talked to a group of teenage girls lately?) Nevertheless, bathing suit pictures are not exactly the most modest way to illustrate a point about modesty.

I suspect the author was trying to say more about honor and virtue than about defining modesty.

I feel a little bit sorry for our children who are growing up in a time when their entire lives are liable to be broadcast and archived for the entire world to see. Would you want to meet your teenage self again today via the internet? I enjoy Throw Back Thursday as much as anyone, but I'm awfully glad most of my teenage self is packed away with the yearbooks and letter jackets in my garage.

A college date. Years later this boy (whom I married)
told me he was shocked I was wearing a strapless dress
since "nice girls in the Midwest never went strapless."
True story!

When we were kids, we said and did some stupid things (can I get an "Amen", Class of '86?). But our biggest worry was only that someone might see the handwritten note, find the burn book, overhear the comment, or tattle if we were caught somewhere we weren't supposed to be. Even if horrifically not-thought-through, in the end what was done was done and we could apologize if necessary and move on.

Our children's really bad judgment calls could possibly be on display forever. And ever. Gulp.

It's hard to parent that. Things change so quickly that we are trying to lead a child down a path while essentially feeling our way along in the dark. How the heck are we supposed to know how high our social media standard should be? And don't we all realize that our parenting is judged by what pops up on the screens of our children at any given moment?

You don't get off free if you ban your kid from Facebook et al. I can think of several instances in the last year when kids I know without accounts were tagged in photos. Photos of places and things they might not want the world to see. Another kid I know (and liked a lot) tumbled from my high estimation when I came across his Twitter feed and was dumbfounded by what he thought was funny enough to RT. It made me...sad.

As with every other aspect of parenting, I wish I could protect my kids from all harm. But as I am stumbling blindly just like so many others, here's all I've got for both my daughters and my sons:

1. Never ever post a photo that you would be ashamed to show your grandmother.
2. Don't be a creeper.
3. When in doubt, delete.
4. No one is joking when they tell you that potential colleges, employers and mothers-in-law will search for you online to determine what kind of person you really are. Make sure what they find is the truth.
5. Whether you are online or in real life, our standard is simple: behave like ladies and gentlemen.

Do you need a good definition of a gentleman/lady? The best I've ever heard is that which my husband has memorized and loves to quote from John Walter Wayland in 1899. It ends with this:

"...a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe."

Is it too much to ask?


  1. I agree. I will say when I first read the blog mentioned, my first reaction was "hello, your boys are half naked", then I stepped away for a second and my 6 year old had sat down and said "Mommy, what beach are they at? I like her swimsuit". Funny how I didn't notice the little sister on their shoulders. Funny how I missed that they were most likely goofing off for MOM and DAD and not for facebook, not for twitter, or instagram. Those pictures would easily be shown to grandparents and probably funny stories to be had about their days at the beach.
    What was heart breaking is that the mom felt that it was indeed time to address young ladies who should not be posting inappropriate pictures of themselves up on social media. She went from a blogger who's audience was mostly her family and close friends to a world. She went from a concerned mom who didn't want these young ladies to put themselves down with inappropriate pictures and didn't want her son's exposed to those pictures.
    What I was sickened by, were the nasty comments, not just on her own personal pictures she took of her boys, but that she wanted better for those girls.
    We're working to train up our boys and girls to respect themselves in their dress, in their behavior around us and when not around us, etc. When people come and tell us how good our kids are, how helpful they were, how kind they were, etc it's a relief. I see the good and the bad here at home. I see all their potential and just how far they can fall from that potential that the Lord has placed in them. I thank the Lord, when outside of home they're doing what we're teaching and training them.

    On a total side note, I'm a born and raised Kansas girl, Army Wife, about to enter retirement, and hopefully in the next couple months planning on going up to Weston to the new Polish Pottery Shop!!! Oh I miss going to Poland! ;)

  2. Amen to all of that (Polish pottery included)! Thanks for the comment.