Our children will be offended many times in their lives, whether it be through the actions of their friends, coworkers, acquaintances, or people they have never met. There's really no way they can avoid feeling offended at some point in their lives.
But we can teach them to be prepared for it.
Consider the following.
Alex and Brian had attended the same high school and been involved in the same church youth group for the last two years, but they didn't know each other well.
One Monday morning at school, Alex overheard some other students talking about what happened in their first period debate class. Brian had apparently been arguing his side in a class debate and said something demeaning about girls who are cheerleaders.
Alex, whose own sister was captain of the cheerleeding squad, was indignant. How could Brian, a pillar in his youth group, have said such a thing?
After he got home from school, Alex composed a long, personal letter to Brian, berating him for what he said in debate class, calling him a variety of names that would make his youth pastor blush, and telling him that he'd better be ashamed if he ever showed up at youth group again.
Next Alex did a little research and found out that Brian made money mowing lawns in his neighborhood. He then made some phone calls to Brian's neighbors, warning them against using Brian's services anymore. After all, surely they wouldn't want to be associated with someone of Brian's low moral character.
Finally, Alex laid out a full-color poster, delineating the multitude of Brian's faults (both real and imagined), and then printed out 500 copies. The next day at school, Alex posted them all over the school hallways and even gave one to the school secretary who read it over the PA system during homeroom.
Alex ended that school day with a feeling of great accomplishment; Brian now knew how wrong he was for saying those things about cheerleaders, and Alex had defended the dignity of his sister and all cheerleaders in the world.
While this situation seems exaggerated, we obviously wouldn't want our children to respond to offense the way Alex did.
So how do we prepare our children for when they're offended?
1. Talk to them about it before it happens. Discuss situations in which they might be offended (someone being rude, holding a differing opinion, etc.), then list some options for responses. Then delve into the Scriptures and evaluate each response in light of what God has to say about it.
2. Model appropriate behaviors. The next time you're offended, consider how you'd want your children to respond in a similar situation. Your children are always watching and learning.
They'll also watch how you respond when you encounter something that offends you online. They'll learn from that, too, and will probably respond that same way in their own real-life relationships.