With social media being what it is, I sometimes do a check on facebook acitivity on our daughter Johanna’s phone. Johanna is eighteen years old, born with 'Down Syndrome' or *Up Syndrome* as we often choose to call it.
It has become part of our daily conversations, social media, how to handle it, what can be private and what we, as parents need to keep an eye on.
Defining sexual predators, inappropriate posting etc is hard. We enter the terrain of morality and ‘common sense’. But where there is an uncommon perspective of our world, many of the norms we take for granted come under scrutiny.
Last night I scanned her messages as there have been one or two men that have had questionable exchanges with her. As I scrolled down one thread of yesterday, I was faced with a close-up of male genitalia that turned my stomach.
Johanna had responded with horror and the thread stopped there. But he had not been blocked or reported etc.
I did that immediately.
Anders and I both agreed we would speak carefully and kindly with her, to empower her in her exchanges with a world that is so complicated in the web that is largely determining our lives and loves? Today.
‘My angel, that picture that M-s sent to you yesterday..’
‘Mom, it is private. ‘
Yes, my love, but some things are not appropriate and we need to keep an eye on things.
You responded absolutely perfectly.
You maybe needed to tell me or pappa about it and we could have helped you block and report him.
Her face looked concerned
But I don’t want to block him.
Or report him.
I’m not like that.
But its completely inappropriate for someone you don’t even know to send you pictures like that.
But mom, I felt pleased in a kind of disgusting way.
A long silence as she articulated the complex terrain of sexuality.
Yes, sometimes we feel flattered, tittilated, turned on by what is beyond those fields of right and wrong.
'Johanna, you need to block him.
You don’t want to have those kinds of friends.'
'But mom, I feel sorry for him.'
I found myself in tears.
Her truth cut through my disgust of this man and fear for her sanctity.
There is a teaching that says, there is only love and the cry for love.
Johanna recognises the cry for love, without judgment.
We will act according to the dictates of our conscience, but at the same time, we need to respond with compassion.
Hopefully this young man, who is also a ‘special need’ has parents we can engage with.
My heart feels sad and open at the same time.
May I too respond in peace, to what is a cry for love.