Individual resiliency has always been the challenge growing up in a world that can seem unforgiving and condemning. And in the network culture, the individual may be featured as a god (celebrity status) or a goat (bully target); someone to be admired or scorned; someone to love or hate inspiring strong emotion and anxiety. Hence individual resiliency is the most important life skill parents can teach the modern child, as indicated in a recent Chicago CBS feature about children and social media.
Tips for inspiring individual resiliency in cyber-powered youth
Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P. of the Western Dominican Province, spoke about truth in a talk this week at St. Joseph Marello Catholic Church in Granite Bay. He is the founder of 12-Step-Review, which offers thought leadership to put the serenity prayer into action. Vogt’s insights offer some leadership tips for parenting youth who are navigating tsunami waves of untruth in the social network:
- Correct thinking. Accepting the world as it is, imperfect and splendid, is critical. Otherwise we risk experiencing a pride/arrogance perspective that convinces us the world should conform to our own expectations and emotions and there will be no hope. This pride allows us to believe untruth which disturbs the peace; rather we need to keep our focus on the thoughts that are of God who is the source of peace and prosperity.
- Authenticity. Being authentic is expressing love, which is boundless and fearless. There is no fear in love, who is God. Without fear, we can find truth wherever it surfaces. “An atheist can speak truth,” Vogt declares, “Some Christians are so narrow minded they don’t see the goodness in other cultures.” We must help our children look for the good and beware of evil in their social networks, but don’t give evil a place in your heart. That is why it is strategic for parents to be careful not to condemn, but always express correct thinking about the evil and wrong doing in the world with a caring, merciful and hopeful heart. Then children will feel safe to talk about the things they are experiencing in the cyber social realms that disturb the peace.
- Feelings are real experiences, and they not the facts. Having feelings that inspire elation and sorrow, such as infatuation, happiness, anger, rage, anxiety, hate, etc., are real experiences that do not condemn us. And while it is not a sin to have these feelings, the sin happens when we allow feelings to lead us, especially in the social network. Our power resides in the human capacity to apply the reason of our faith in response these feelings. “Feelings are amoral,” he said. Vogt encourages us to not confuse these human emotions with God’s love that is instructive and empowers free will; it liberates us from our sinful (weak) nature. Whereas “Hollywood love”, for example, is a feeling that is fleeting, hence divorce tearing apart families and inspiring divisiveness in our communities. By understanding the nature of feelings versus faith, we can help our children govern their own hearts and minds according to the truth that they and we are children of God, born to love and be loved in all circumstances as Christ taught us.
This capacity for God’s love in us through Christ is the individual resiliency that conquered the world, and this is the liberating authority within that cannot be taken by the world, but it can easily be surrendered by the individual. So have conversations with your children about cyber-safe house rules as limiting the power they give up to the device and the social network.
For more about governing the cyber-powered home with certain authority, go to: A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media.