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Well, it’s two days after Valentine’s Day! Are we still all about love? I have complained at times about some of the posts on Facebook to my sweet husband, Jim. He’s always the first and usually the last one to hear my remarks. I try not to be too judgmental but one I saw over the weekend really touched my heart. As a retired teacher, I feel I still have the duty to speak up when I notice abuse, be it verbal or physical, of a child. I can’t stress the importance of guarding what we write in comments on Facebook or anywhere else regarding children, especially when it involves someone else’s child.

The post which bothered me had a page from a fourth grader writer pictured on it. The child had written a review of a musical composition he had listened to that was entitled “Sleep.” Evidently, the child’s teacher had sent the review to the author of the music. The composer made the comment that he would keep this negative review on his wall as a reminder of how his work had been received by a child. What caught  my eye was the caustic comment made by a Facebook user that the child’s work was poorly written and that he should work on his handwriting and grammar rather than critique a musical work. I took offense and reread the child’s work. It appeared to me to be a page torn from a daily journal kept by the child. If so, it was the child’s response to the way he heard the music and was for his eyes only. Children are encouraged to write in journals to express themselves and they do not go back and proofread this work nor does the teacher. Phonetic spellings are acceptable on work of this nature. BUT this child’s work did not need to be criticized by a Facebook viewer. Imagine how that poor child would feel if he saw the negative comment this adult had made regarding his writing!

I can still remember the verbal criticism my early attempts at drawing a house evoked from my dad over 60 years ago. I know he loved me, but he remarked that the house I’d drawn was all wrong! He was a carpenter and also drew plans for houses. My work was out of proportion and truly ill-composed as most attempts by an eight year old would be. I tried harder and my work improved but I still recall that comment and how much it hurt me. It was like a slap across the face that I took to heart. It also helped me develop a dislike for drawing, which I still avoid at all costs.

Honestly, I have seen many posts that were not grammatically correct posted by adults on Facebook, but I would never think to mention it. Why hurt someone’s feelings unnecessarily? Isn’t it wonderful that people are writing more? Be an encourager, a Timothy to others, especially children. There’s a place for correction and it’s not on Facebook. We all make mistakes and sometimes computers do it for us. My kindle likes to change words to what it thinks I mean! There are times I miss the errors and this embarrasses me. We need to think more about one another’s feelings and how we would like to be treated.

James’ words regarding speech and the tongue apply just as much to what we write or to what we post. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.” (James 3:6)  It only takes a small spark in the form of a hurtful remark to damage a child. Let us remember that children are naturally creative, but a thoughtless comment can stifle that desire to create.

Dear Lord, Guide us in the comments we make on Facebook and other social media. Let us reflect the love You shower on us daily as we share our thoughts with one another. May we encourage others rather than criticize. You are the Ultimate Judge not any one of us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen