I recently had the opportunity to speak with Leila Hoffman, a long-time Accountability user, about why she uses Covenant Eyes.
“When you were in school, did you ever look at a piece of amber?” Leila asked.
Amber, she explained, is supposed to be clear. No imperfections, no fruit flies, no mosquitos preserved a la Jurassic Park. Just clarity, a golden light shining through the other side.
“What I want more than anything is for my life to be clear,” she told me. “I wanted to be the amber without the fly in it.”
This principle has guided Leila Hoffman’s life. A stay-at-home mother of five, she and her husband Richard actively worked to shepherd her five children into a lifestyle of integrity.
They wanted their children to be prepared for the world around them. Recalling her father’s quiet witness as a public school principal, they chose to place their kids in public school, knowing it would provide opportunities to be witnesses to others. Leila and Richard committed themselves to being actively involved in their kids’ school districts, even through high school—a quiet, clear, open light in the community.
Shining a light on Internet use
It was 2005 when Leila discovered that one of her teenagers had begun to access pornography. Their shared family computer was in a public location, but she knew that there wasn’t much stopping the teen from getting up in the middle of the night to go online.
One of her daughters had recently married a computer programmer, so Leila and her husband asked in general terms if they knew of any good software solutions. That was when the daughter explained that she and her husband were using Covenant Eyes to hold each other accountable as a safety precaution.
“Our jaws dropped,” Leila said. Internet Accountability perfectly matched their parenting philosophy of preparation, not insulation. “We said, ‘Yes, this is what we want.'”
Leila and Richard introduced Internet Accountability to their teens as a way to maintain an open book in their family—another sign of a transparent life. Instead of using it solely to monitor the teen who had viewed pornography, the entire family would use Covenant Eyes. Leila told her teens, “We all need to be accountable.” Unlike filtering, accountability would help her teens take the step between childhood and adulthood. “Sooner or later, you guys are all going to be able to get your own devices,” she told them. For their family, it was about preparing them to be responsible online when that day came.
When the kids are all grown
Eight years later, Leila’s two youngest children have boomeranged back home after college. They’re adults now with their own smartphones. While Covenant Eyes is still installed on the family computer, and while she encourages them to install the Accountability apps, Leila has given them the freedom and responsibility to make their own decisions regarding Internet use and Accountability. “I’ve encouraged them pick their own Accountability Partners,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be Mom anymore.”
But what about when their children leave home? Will they still keep Covenant Eyes installed?
As for herself and her husband, Leila explained, “We personally do not feel like the two of us need it. However, when our kids or other people come into our home—and we have many ‘adopted’ kids—I think that we need to set the standard that says, ‘Our computer is holy ground.'”
For Leila, then, it’s about adding more transparency to her own life. “Look,” she said, “my life is an open book here. My computer backs up what you’ve been seeing with my life. Internet Accountability is there for the sake of whoever comes into our home, to say ‘This is how we operate.’ For the $100 a year for this statement of integrity, it’s worth the money because we’re raising the flag.”
“Integrity needs to be seen,” she added. “It means being put on display and having someone see through you and see to Jesus. I don’t want you to find anything hypocritical or faulty. When you look at me, I want you to only see Jesus in me.”