My oldest daughter was one of many recipients of a mass email this week that said this:
90% of girls all around America would cry if Justin Bieber were about to jump off of a 20-story building. If you are a part of the 10% who would be sitting in a reclining chair with popcorn yelling, "Do a backflip!!!" send this to as many people as possible!
As various responses either in favor of or against Justin Bieber started popping back, my 12-year-old daughter felt compelled to send something a little different. Here's what she wrote:
I do not like Justin Bieber, but we must remember that he is a human being too! He is also created in God's image. And even though he is a bad role model, we don't have to say that we wouldn't cry when he jumps off a building. We need to know that he was born on this earth just like everyone else (even if some people think he is a weird alien.) We don't need to hate him, but please, we also don't need to go ga-ga over him like everyone else does.
Oh, and Tracy, I don't really like his music, but I'm okay that you do!
Before sending the message, she asked me to come in and take a look at it. I read it over her shoulder, offered one spelling correction, and said, "Send it!" So she did.
I walked away from the computer smiling because this email exchange is a turning point in the way this particular daughter expresses her thinking on all things tweeny-bopper. For better or for worse, we, as her parents, have worked to give her a sense of what we believe to be truly good music and encouraged her to not just follow hard after what all her peers say is good music.
Granted, the definition of good music is up for grabs these days and probably varies for every single one of us, but just like Hannah Montana and the entire repertoire of High School Musical, Justin Bieber hasn't made our family's list of quality music.
Initially, our encouragement instilled a sarcastic vibe in our daughter regarding said pop stars, which resulted in an almost hyper-hate-alternative response to her friends with Bieber Fever. Out of her need to make sure everyone around her knew she didn't obsess over the boy, she tended the other way, making sure everyone knew how much she disliked him.
We've had to backpedal on more than one occasion on things like this as she went off on one of her "that music is sooooo stupid" rants. We've had to remind her that while we may not enjoy his music or agree with the direction his life is taking, we can still find ways to treat him with the respect he is due simply for being another human being made in the image of God. In short, we've asked her to stop talking about him all together if she can't think of anything kind to say at all.
It had been several weeks since our last Justin Bieber talk, so when she called me over to the computer to take a look at what she was going to say, I was really surprised to read it. And as the emails that followed after her were along the lines of, "You know, you're right," I'm thankful for her newly found sensitivity to put an end to the potential slander she once would have otherwise pursued.
Discernment is often more caught than taught. And yes, sometimes our kids are listening.