I am sorry that I logged on tonight. I happened to check my Facebook account and am always surprised and saddened by what the kids are up to these days.
I have friended a number of kids from our parish. Just now I looked at one of the girl's pages and saw that she had "friends" that were also my students. I wish I hadn't gone to view her page.
Reading their comments and "walls"...likes, and links, and questions....amazes me.
I always like to think of them as the angels that I see on Sundays...and yet, they are sadly NOT!
The language they use....the conversations they have.... Oh my gosh! These are Orthodox children!
One girl I have gently reprimanded for writing less than savory words on my "Wall". She apparently didn't realize what the F in LMFAO stood for...so she apologized...and while she is no longer LMFAO, she is still LMAO. However, upon my suggestion, she did remove her cellphone number from her page, and thanked me for caring.
These are kids of 10 years of age. It might be "permissable for teenagers or college aged kids...but, these are 10 year olds! They shouldn't even know about the things they are commenting on. I've actually "hidden" a number of them from my page, because I am embarrassed to have their off color comments visible on my own page for others to read.
I never thought I was "old fashioned", but, it is killing me to hear the way these children talk...and WHAT they talk about.
So...how far does a "non-parent" of these children go in correcting their behavior? As their religion teacher do I have some right, or even responsibility to try to stem the crude and sex based discussions (which are done in the open)? Where is the boundary? It's not really "my" business, as they are not "my" kids....and yet, they are my students, and kids who run up to me for a hug in church. I am so sad, I am almost in tears!
Do their parents know? Do they care? Or worse, do they approve?
This Lent, while standing in a long line for Holy Confession, ahead of me was a student of mine and her parents. In the corner stands a huge metal container of Holy Water, with a spout. There are paper cups and trash bin (the cups get burned). As we stand there the girl gets ansy due to the long wait and eventually finds the Holy Water, gets a cup and proceeds to drink. Her parents just stand there playing with her hair. When she disposes of the cup and looks up she catches my eye, and comes over to me. I gently ask her if she remembered what I taught her about going to Holy Confession/Communion. She nods yes. I ask her if she remembers being taught that she is to fast from midnight, which means no food or drink. She nods yes. I ask her what was that she just did. She starts to whine that she was really, really thirsty. I remind her that next time she's not to drink or eat anything. She looks remorseful and goes back to her parents.
After Liturgy the parents stop me and tell me they realized that she shouldn't be drinking, but, she was soooo thirsty. So, while in line for Holy Confession, they see their daughter "breaking" the rules...and think it's okay because she was reallllllly thirsty. Granted it was Holy Water and not a bottle of Coke, but still...
So, should we really be "hands off"?
Where is our responsibility to the grapes in the Lord's vineyard? Should we train them or just let them grow wild?
I am always at a loss as how to proceed in these situations. I don't want to come off as being pushy...and yet, as their teacher I feel a pull to teach them.
I need your advice. When I see or read things my students (and these kids are all under 12 years of age) are saying that are against Orthodox morals and ethics, is it my duty, my responsibility, my place to correct them, or should I just let it go?
I don't want to come off as being "self righteous", because I am not. I realize my own sinful nature. But, again...these are children. If they think it's okay to be up all night and discuss immoral subjects, use the words they do, post provacative photos of each other, and are so comfortable with it....what's ahead for them? Where will they draw the line? They will burn out and be whithered before they reach 20. Dried up raisins, not grapes.
Thanks for listening and thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.