I’m linking up this morning with Company Girls! Welcome, ladies!
This is the LAST of this week’s three-part series devoted to helping your voice be heard in a public online setting such as a blog or forum. In The Soapbox (Posting Your Opinion, Monday) and The Snappy Comeback (Disagreeing With an Opinion Post, Wednesday), I suggested ways to keep online conversations civilized: things like sticking with the issues, avoiding logic errors, and showing respect for people who disagree with you. But while I’m at it, I also want to throw in a word about including family members in your posts.
Part 3: The Skeleton Closet (Posting About Your Family)
1. Respect! My top priority is to respect my husband’s and kids’ feelings. I mention them often, as long as the subject is either neutral (“My husband and sons like to play paintball”) or positive (“I’m proud of the way my sons have explored career paths”).
2. I really try to be fair, neither whiny nor overly rose-tinted, as I describe various aspects of our family. I don’t want to bore you with some implausible fantasy about how absolutely perfect our kids were when they were little. But neither is it fair for me to vent about normal childhood mishaps as if the boys had been deliberately trying to ruin my life. Such a one-sided account is equally implausible. Neither will be of any value to the reader.
3. If you have a serious grievance against close relatives, especially your own spouse or children, it honestly does not help anything for you to air that “dirty laundry” in public. You may gain some sympathy from strangers, but probably at the cost of any trust your loved ones have in you. Better to deal with those issues in a private setting, protecting your family from public scrutiny. As 1 Peter 4:7-9 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” And Paul reminds us in 1 Corianthians 13 that love “is not self-seeking (v. 5),” but rather “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (v.7).”
4. However, there is a place for transparency and community support when you are dealing with a difficult, no-fault situation such as a handicapped or seriously ill family member.
5. We have no such difficulties in my immediate family. If I do tell a story on any one of us, it is usually either
a) to illustrate some insight I have gained, or
b) just for a laugh.
Either way, if it’s about my husband or son, I almost always run it by them first, to make sure they don’t mind my
tattling sharing. Some pastors have a clear policy of never using their child as a sermon illustration without that child’s permission. I have tremendous respect for that.
6. Proofread for grammar and spelling so you don’t sound illiterate. (Yes, you have seen this one before.)
I hope this series has given you some tools for preventing online conflict, and for dodging those bullets that do get through.
Thanks for reading!