Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Let’s raise Anti-Cancelers!

Written by: on February 8, 2024

“Think of the dumbest thing you did as a teenager. Now, imagine if that moment were preserved forever in the permanent record, available for anyone to see.”[1]


I am so grateful that social media was not a thing when I was in High School or in college. My high school days were filled with me speaking my mind without concern or consequences. My college days were much of the same except I had a bigger platform and a bit more knowledge. I learned to control my temper, refine my speech, and choose my battles as I matured. But in the early years of young adulthood, that was not the case.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to relive the craziest thing that I’ve ever said or done over and over on social media. I can’t imagine teenage Jonita, with her sharp tongue and unrelenting sense of right and wrong, navigating a Cancel Culture environment. The thought of there being a permanent digital record of some of the moments that you are not proud of is frightening but the reality that your future can be altered by it is terrifying, especially as a mother.

My two youngest children are 13 and 15 years old. Olivia is in Middle School (I’m convinced if you can survive middle school, you can survive anything) and Pierce is in high school. They attend the same private Christian school but separate campuses that connect by a beautiful courtyard. Most of the kids attend from kindergarten thru 12th grade. It sounds lovely and it is in many ways but there is a downside, everyone remembers everything. As a parent, these words haunted me, “Gone are the days when dumb, insensitive, or offensive teenage mishaps were forgotten or simply disappeared. Their extensive digital record makes Gen Z the most cancelable cohort, and that makes modern adolescence kind of nightmarish”. [2] I have heard countless stories of young people making stupid comments and it costs them opportunities. Recently, Pierce shared that there was a physical altercation at his school involving a student that is he is really close to and a group of boys. Apparently, this student used the “N” word in 6th grade as a dare and he is now in 10th grade. It’s a prime example of someone telling someone and the pack mentality kicked in. So, four years later this kid is physically defending himself in the boy’s restroom against 4 anger boys and later finds himself facing explosion. This is CANCEL CULTURE. He is facing a permanent mark on his record and the possibility of being forced to leave a school community that he has been in since elementary school. This is the problem with Cancel Culture, it does not leave room for grace and forgiveness.

This is hard, so hard to navigate. I found truth in the statement, Lukianoff and Schlott say, “parenting in the age of Cancel culture is incredibly difficult.”[3] Amen and Amen! I don’t scare easily but this is terrifying. The reality is that we (parents) may not be able to stop cancel culture from affecting our children. Lukianoff and Schlott state, “there are so many factors outside the control of individual as parents-including the behavior of other people’s children, and the ever-lurking threat that they might target your kid with a cancellation campaign despite your best efforts.”[4] We can not control other people’s children and we cannot fully safeguard our children from the impact of it. But we can work together as parents. “The more parents that band together to raise a cohort of anti-cancelers, the better.”[5] We need to also understand the ways we contribute to it. “The result of cancel culture is a self-insulating generation. We adults contribute to this anxiety by staying silent-or even cheering- when young people are canceled for something they said or did in adolescence.”[6] Unfortunately, I have heard parents make statements like, “They deserved it!” when referring to a child that has been canceled to a careless action.  Shameful!!!

This book provided tangible solutions for me. I need something to put into action when facing something so awful, so damaging, and so malignant. I need some tools to fix this with, I need weapons to fight with. It is my responsibility as a parent to teach, nurture, and direct my child. I can help stop cancel culture by teaching my kids not to be perpetrators. I can model grace and forgiveness so that my children can extend it to others.  I appreciate this statement, “Every parent can play a role in providing the framework for a generation of anti-cancelers to thrive. If we succeed, Cancel Culture will wither on the vine.”[7] Lukianoff and Schlott provide a five-step plan to help mindful parents raise an anti-canceler.  They share,

  1. Revive the golden rule.
  2. Encourage free, unstructured time.
  3. Emphasize the importance of friendships.
  4. Teach kids about differences.
  5. Practice what you preach.[8]

I will print these steps, place them on my office wall, commit to memory, put into action, and pray that I have the ability to influence my children in an environment that is difficult to navigate. My goal is to cancel Cancel Culture!

[1] Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott, The Canceling of the American Mind (New, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2023), 211

[2] Ibid., 213.

[3] Ibid., 230.

[4] Ibid., 230.

[5] Ibid., 230.

[6] Ibid., 214.

[7] Ibid., 231.

[8] Ibid., 219.

About the Author


Jonita Fair-Payton

12 responses to “Let’s raise Anti-Cancelers!”

  1. mm Russell Chun says:

    Thanks so much for highlighting,
    Revive the golden rule.
    Encourage free, unstructured time.
    Emphasize the importance of friendships.
    Teach kids about differences.
    Practice what you preach.[8]

    John Fehlen (or was it Tim) talked about the need for Grace.

    He commented that the THIRD SPACE needs to be a GRACE SPACE.

    I am going to use that!

    Great blogspot.


    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      Hi Russell,

      Thanks for reading my post and directing me to John’s post. I believe that Grace is essential and sadly it is often missing when we are faced with challenges or mistakes. I love “the third space should be a grace space!”

  2. mm Kim Sanford says:

    Great post, Jonita. You did a great job weaving the book’s ideas into your own experience raising teenagers. Can I add one more suggestion to that five-step plan to raise anti-cancelers? It actually comes from your own reflections – let’s focus on growth and change! Like you, I am so grateful that I’m not the same person I was in high school and young adulthood. So I propose that we model for our kids, instead of canceling someone for something they did or said years ago, let’s express optimism that they have changed. Let’s allow for growth and grace, as you said. Most of all, I’m with you, let’s do all we can to raise anti-cancelers!

  3. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


    I love this, “let’s express optimism that they have changed. Let’s allow for growth and grace”! I think it’s crucial that we allow space for both and nurture both. This is a great addition to five-steps.

  4. Adam Harris says:

    Great posts Jonita, this is something I’m thinking about as well since I have a teenager (sometimes screenager). Nicole and I had some good conversations after I shared with her some things from this book and the other book by Haidt on “Coddelring the American Mind”. For instance: Mental health. I can see how it can affect teenagers who are constantly comparing themselves against other teenagers’ “highlight reels” on social media.

    This is something we can’t be passive about, thanks for sharing your thoughts and highlighting those things!

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:

      I agree Adam…We cannot afford to be passive about it. Larry and I struggle with finding the right balance…raising Screenagers is difficult. We have to do a better job with modeling the right behavior. I sometimes get lost in my screen.

  5. Esther Edwards says:

    Thank you for sharing about the very real struggles that parents are facing today. Parenting against some of the damaging cultural norms takes tenacity and consistency. No doubt, we had blame and shame casting when I was young, but the stakes are so much higher now.
    Blessings to you for parenting well and being there for Pierce to process the situation. You play a crucial role…and so do we all through our own examples.

    • mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


      Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. The stakes seem so much higher in this season of parenting. We are doing a very best to support, be present, and listen.

  6. Jenny Dooley says:

    I love your goal! What a great mom you are! Reviving the Golden Rule, now that would be something. The Golden Rule was quoted often in my childhood home and my mom modeled it well. You brought back some sweet memories.

    You nailed it when you wrote, “This is the problem with Cancel Culture, it does not leave room for grace and forgiveness.” I forgot where I was and posted my question to you in my post. but I’ll re-word it here. Is there a place for redemption on both sides of the cancel culture aisle? How do we extend grace and forgiveness to those who are cancelled, no matter the reason, and to those who do the cancelling when they might not be asking for it?

  7. mm Jonita Fair-Payton says:


    I believe that there is room for forgiveness on both sides of the CC aisle. I think that is the issue is that CC is condemnation. We just catapult folk into the land of throw-a-ways! We forget to follow the path that Jesus laid, grace and forgiveness.

  8. mm Jana Dluehosh says:

    Oh Jonita, the pain and anxiety huh! I love what you said: I can help stop cancel culture by teaching my kids not to be perpetrators. I can model grace and forgiveness so that my children can extend it to others.

    My kiddo is the one who made the awful mistakes on how he treated others. I have to admit I felt shame and complete failure as a parent at times, and now a year later after all this, My son has bounced back. So maybe I’m a resilient parent? Nothing is forever, even cancel culture, because it can’t tell me not to love my son and it can’t cancel God’s love. SO I have to believe that God wins! But that doesn’t mean the pain of being canceled won’t happen. Perhaps is in how we help those canceled rise up in grace.

  9. Kally Elliott says:

    Jonita, You raise an important issue of KIDS being canceled for things they said or did when they were KIDS. Not adults. Kids, without fully developed brains. Kids, who are supposed to make mistakes and learn from them. When our boys were young one of my best friends used to ask our boys, “Well, how did THAT work out for you?” when they would do something stupid. It was her way of getting them to think through their decision and weigh the consequences of their actions. We all do and say ignorant, stupid things, and I do believe adults should have some accountability for what they say and do. Kids, on the other hand, even teenagers, are still developing and need a safe society in which to try things out and learn from their mistakes in a way that shows them grace.

    Anyway, thank you for making me think about cancel culture and how it might affect our kids. It’s a hard thing for sure. My hope is that somehow it might lead to our kids thinking before speaking – at least in some cases :)!

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