Is It Okay to Beat your Child with a Slipper?
Over 5 million parents in the Middle East have been reached through an online social media campaign on Christian parenting principles supported by Open Doors. The campaign focused on supporting Christian parents in the Arab world in applying biblical values for raising their children. Now that it has ended, both the numbers and the stories show that the impact exceeded expectations. Almost 2 million social media users were actively engaged in the program by liking and sharing posts and videos or by commenting on them.
This parenting campaign ran for two weeks at the end of May. Through the Open Doors network, Christians all over the world have been supporting it with their prayers.
On Facebook during the two weeks, the posts gained 80,000 likes and 8,000 shares. In total, 500,000 minutes of video were watched by 1.2 million unique viewers.
The personal impact of the campaign has been evident through the comments and discussions. For example, one of the posts during the campaign that sparked an interesting discussion was a video about a 4-year-old child practicing his creativity by coloring on the wallpaper. The goal of the post was to promote Kingdom values by inspiring parents not consider other alternatives to resolving an issue like this than beating the child, such as providing an alternative. The example used was to try channeling the child’s talents into something positive, to use words instead of hands when parenting. In the comment string for the video, a discussion lively ensued:
The first mother who responded expressed confusion: “Where in this video is the weapon of every Arab mother—the slipper? Why not just hit that child? I am confused after viewing this.”
Another mother responded to her: “Using violence will only create more violence. Let’s break that cycle and actually start talking to our children. That works so much better.”
A third mother immediately chimed in on the discussion. “What you are saying is such an idealistic picture, real life doesn’t work like that.”
Finally, another mother ended the discussion by sharing her own experience: “I stopped hitting my children four years ago and started investing time to talk with them. It works like magic; you should try it yourself!”
Christian and Muslim parents alike got involved in conversations about the topics raised during the campaign.
The developers of the project found clear evidence that campaigns like these are instrumental in making Christian materials more accessible and more easily found online, especially for Christians in the Middle East, many of whom are living in persecution.
The parenting campaign was a collaborative effort involving several online Christian communities in the Middle East. During the two weeks of the campaign, the believers received a number of private messages from parents in the Arab world requesting help with specific needs. Some of these messages are heartbreaking. A follow-up team is still in touch with these parents and is ministering to them. Where needed, they are being connected to professionals who can provide long-term help.
The campaign team shares about three online encounters with parents struggling to raise their children:
- “A parent with a child in high school age said their child is always angry and yelling, even hitting their parents and siblings. These parents really don’t know how to handle the child and choose to hit back sometimes when all other methods fail.”
- “We were approached by a Christian mother of a girl. She is raising her daughter alone. The girl is always in a bad mood and refuses to go out and play. She asked us for advice and Bible verses to help her.”
- “Another mother is also struggling with raising her daughter. She literally said, ‘I don’t know how to love her’ and asked for our help. We try to support her by ministering online.”
Father, we struggle sometimes with whether social media is a help or hindrance in our own lives, but today we thank and praise You for the ways it has been used in the Middle East not only to share the gospel of Christ, but also to support both Christians and non-Christians in living godly lives. Thank You for the clear impact of this parenting campaign and for the hard work of those who invested so much time and effort into it. Thank You for giving them a glimpse into the fruit of their labor. We pray for those in very challenging situations that Your Holy Spirit will continue to strengthen and encourage them to parent in new, Christ-like ways. We pray especially for professionals who are helping them to face these struggle. Grant these servants of Yours wisdom, patience, and faith to continue this important work. In the name of Jesus who grants wisdom in abundance for all our needs, Amen.