It's become cliché - Parent 1 shares a picture or status about a struggle or crazy moment or insane kid situation, and Parent 2 chimes in with "Get out the wine!" "Can't wait for the kids to go to sleep - a bottle of red is waiting!" "Tonight isn't a wine night - it's a whole bottle night!" Everyone laughs, shrugs, thinks, "Yup, me too!" and goes on with their night.
Parents, I would like to respectfully submit that we need to stop casually posting about alcohol on Facebook (and social media in general). Full disclosure: I'm an avid Facebook user and certainly not a teetotaler. I have nothing against the appropriate and wise consumption of alcohol, and I think Facebook can be a blessing and even a ministry tool when used well. But the two shouldn't mix.
Let me share three reasons:
You don't know the story of every one of your Facebook friends.
I wrote a post in April explaining why we need to be extra-careful posting on Facebook: it's not just our immediate friends or those who will comment who can see what we write; often, it's a wide group of friends and past friends and acquaintances and occasionally even the public. In that group of people is a broad history of alcohol use, abuse and pain. Very possibly, someone reading a casual and joking post about wine has struggled with alcohol dependance, or suffered the terrible effects of a parent wrestling with alcoholism. In your Facebook friend list might be a teen who's wrestling with negative peer-pressure. A mom who's been sober since finding out she was pregnant, but who had one of her roughest days, or a grandparent who lost a child to alcohol abuse.
I wouldn't suggest that other's actions or decisions should be blamed or justified by casual and joking posts on Facebook, but if you know there's even a chance a Facebook post could hurt someone, don't you think it might be best to hold off?
Your kids will get Facebook.
Dad, mom: Facebook is here to stay, and your kids are getting older every day. There is coming a moment when each of your kids will sign up for Facebook, and there is also coming a day when they will scroll through your News Feed. Your darling daughter or strong son will most likely be in Jr. High, acne ridden and wrecked by social pressure and negative self-image when they do, and they'll be thinking, "Oh, my goodness, what did dad post about me on Facebook?"
Do you want the answer to that question to be anything related to alcohol?
In every way, each of us wants to raise our children with a healthy understanding of alcohol and a healthy self-image. I don't think it's a reach to say that occasional, even joking posts about alcohol - especially in relation to our kids - can undermine both of those goals.
There are normal, regular parenting conversations you have with close friends that you would never want recorded and read back to your kids, because those conversations are raw and contextualized and sometimes without nuance. But in posting them on Facebook, you're doing just that - preparing your kids to be confused and question both you and themselves later.
Demonstrate your dependence on Christ, not on substance.
Finally, we should do everything we can to embrace and demonstrate of our dependance on Christ, rather than any other substance. Posting in the way we often do about alcohol can potentially reveal a struggle in our hearts with Christ-centered dependance.
When you're overwhelmed - be it with parenting or friendships or work or life in general - where do you turn? What do you look towards for peace and comfort and relief? God has blessed us with so many recreations in this life: the gym, friends, sports, Netflix, snacks, Facebook. Few, if any of our recreations are inherently bad. But there are none that should take the place of God as a sustainer and restorer and healer and comforter.
This is not an accusation. We can look forward to and enjoy wine or Netflix or anything without being dependent on it. But this is a caution: every time the thought flickers through you mind, "I need _____," pause and take a spiritual inventory. Is ____ becoming an idol? Is your heart tending towards emotional dependance on anything other than Christ? Be wary of this!
Let me be clear: I don't scoff at any of my friends who post on social media about alcohol - I get it! But my biggest concern is that we often post on Facebook without thinking. We're comfortable, we're casual, and we're looking to be funny. It's easy to forget the long-term ramifications and unseen consequences of a misinterpreted or misunderstood comment. There are plenty of arguments that can be made for posting about alcohol, I'm sure, but the biggest question to wrestle with is simple: "Is the risk worth it?"
In the end, parents, I think it's wisest if we say, "I won't risk my friends, my kids and my witness for a snarky post about wine."