Sheltering our Children

If you homeschool (and sometimes even if you don’t), you have probably been accused at some point of SHELTERING your child/children.

This is one of the words that causes homeschoolers cringe…right up there with the word SOCIALIZATION.

It bothers me that the fact that I like my children, want to have them near me, and actually enjoy parenting them apparently sends the rest of the world into an uproar.  But, what is even more disturbing is the reaction some homeschoolers have to the accusation of sheltering their children.

In response, many homeschoolers have try to “prove” they are not sheltering their children.  They come up with a myriad of ways to look just like the rest of the world, demonstrating that somewhere within them, they too FEAR their children are too sheltered.  Maybe it is the countless anecdotal stories of the child who was “sheltered” only to rebel wildly once 18.  Maybe we don’t truly believe home is the best place for our children.  Maybe we fear they will not know enough of the world to function once out on their own.  Whatever the reason, far too many of us are buying into the idea that shoving them out of the nest before they know how to fly is a good way to teach them to soar.

Rather than preaching at you, I thought I would link to two articles from Jonathan Lindvall’s website Bold Christian Living that address the sheltering of our children.  I’d love to hear your comments on this issue!

Sheltering our Children Part 1 ~ God’s Mandate to Holiness

Sheltering our Children Part 2 ~ Parental Responsibility for Influence

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15 thoughts on “Sheltering our Children

  1. I couldn’t of said it any better. My best friend and I are always discussing this issue. My family and friends think I shelter my children to much. They say you have to trust others more, let them make decisions on their own. Now selecting clothes to wear or what they want for breakfast is fine; but we are talking about children unable to make good biblical choices. I am not holding them back, I am preparing them to go out into this sinful world… and I refuse to send them out there until they are ready.

  2. I remember Michelle Duggar saying something very eloquent on the subject, comparing our children to seedlings, and allowing them to grow strong roots before bringing the “storm” of life upon them. (Totally paraphrased).

    I feel it is my duty as a mother to shelter my children. They are only children for so long… I want them to experience a happy childhood and not worry about adult issues until they are mature enough to handle such matters.

  3. I was thinking back to when we first started h.s. 14 years ago. that was one of my main goals was to keep y children sheltered from the world as much as possible. When my 4 ad 6 yo became teens,I suddenly realized i didnt shelter them as much as i thought i did. Some of the things they know about really surprised me.When I would ask how do youknow this stuff? they would usually respond “Dah mom, everybody knows that!” We are apart of a large h.s. group. There are many different types of families with many different views on many different things. i think they learn lots of things this way. my daughter’s b.f. (from a very strong christian h.s. family) had a baby out of wedlock! Talk about a worldly lesson!!Also, as they become teens, their socializing grows. they may be friends with a christian kid who attends a public school and has some friends that aren’t christians. there is the potential for lots of “worldly wisdom” there! both my teens started working around age 15. the people they worked with were not all christians. so there’s were more of that worldly wisdom” came in. my point is, i believe we can’t and shouldn’t even try to keep our children sheltered from the world. Of course, you have to consider the age of the child. having teens and much younger children in the home makes that alittle more difficult. But i have learned you can make any question or comment a learning time for your children. For example, as a family, we watch “American Idol.” one nite my 7yo said “I heard that lady is gay. she likes other ladies. thats gross and stupid.” I was alittle taken back by this. he said he heard that from the teen brother. so instead of yelling at the teen for taliking about pg13 things in a G rated house, i decided to use the opportunity to address this from a biblical view. so we discussed what the bible teaches about homosexuality. i was reading w/my younger children the story about Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. my 9yo said “i can’t believe that in the bible!” so i explained to him that there has always been sin in the world. the bible is full of people who sinned against God and it still is today! there’s nothing in this world now that we deal with that wasn’t a problem in the bible. i believe allowing your children to hear some of the “worldly wisdom” that they will hear from time to time is a way to teach them to be in the world but not of the world. We can’t escape this world (until the Lord comes)and we don’t do our children any favors if we lead them to believe life is perfect and everything is wonderful.But we can allow them to see the world just the way it is and teach them the importance of being set apart as holy. Not to escape the world we live in and live in our own little perfect paradise, but so that we can make a difference in the world by showing the unbeliver there is a much better way to live…in CHRIST!

    • While I don’t think we should avoid all topics considered sinful (couldn’t read half the Bible if we did that) and we can’t altogether avoid sinful behaviors and worldly ideals, we also shouldn’t SEEK them out. That’s the part I can’t figure out. If we are to set our focus on the things of God, there’s really no reason to “dabble” in the other stuff.

      Each family has to choose for themselves how and when to shelter, and I definitely agree things change as you have older ones in the house, but the over-arching idea here is that sheltering is not a bad thing and there is really no reason to try to look like the world when the Bible specifically tells us to be set apart.

      And honestly, our children will grow up to make their own choices and some of those will be bad ones. Sheltering is never a means to an end. You don’t just shelter and leave it there. You are so right about dialoguing w/ your kids on EVERYTHING. The “cuz I said so” argument does not work (especially as they get older).

      So, I guess my long-winded response is to say that sheltering in my opinion isn’t something you do to avoid your children ever seeing the “real world”, but a way of life that means you walk alongside your children guiding them when needed, protecting them when needed, and letting them try their hand at it when they’re ready.

      Love ya, my friend! :)

  4. I don’t entirely agree with how strict he is — but as he says, what is okay for one is not for another and vice versa.

    People would have me be gentle and sweet and nice and never correct my kids because I should understand that they are just being kids. But, no. My job is to train and teach. And to shelter. I don’t shelter my kids as much as others do — because I don’t feel as called to — but I do more so than others do. We don’t mess around with Santa and Easter Bunny and such things because we think it dilutes the true spirit of the holidays, especially Easter, which Jesus really calls us to celebrate. We also try to teach our children about being good stewards of the world and what we’ve been given, which others don’t seem to find important.

    I lost my mind, I was going to say something else now…. Oops. But it’s my job to raise my children gently and wonderfully and focus on God and His spirit, not worry about the world thinks. They already think I’m crazy because I choose to study them, keep them close, and meet their needs instead of trying to force them to meet society’s “normal” for their ages. Why should I care? Meeting society’s goals isn’t what I should do.

    I hope they are considered “weird.” I hope everyone knows who my kids are because of it, and quietly wonders just what makes our house so special. I suppose first I’ll have to work on my patience and displaying my faith outwardly more easily…. :) But no one’s perfect!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Nutrition for Moms, Kids, and Babies Series =-.

    • I liked what you said about your children being considered “weird”…I knew a family that I always thought was weird when I was younger. As an adult with children of my own, I now long for my children to be like the kids in that family. They were close-knit (still are as adults) and did things together as a family. Love it!

      And like I said to MamaWilson, you definitely have to set the guidelines for your family and not base them off what others think and do.

  5. Those are GOOD articles! I read them about a year ago and was very encouraged!

    There have definitely been seasons in my dh and I’s lives where we felt “guilty” for sheltering our kids, so we start to loosen up on things, but we have *always* regreted it.

    Dh and I are so very careful with our money since things are tight financially–we question every purchase and are very seldom “impulsive” buyers.

    We have asked ourselves this: our kids are worth way more than money, so why would we be less strict with our children than with our money?

    As the stewards of our children, dh and I will keep sheltering them just as we would shelter our life savings…because our children are worth far more than that!

    Thanks for reminding me of this, Amy!

  6. Amy,
    I just came accross your blog and want you to know you have touched me with your story. We have 6 childrens, our 5th close in age with your precious little girl. May God bring you great comfort.
    (((HUGS)))

    Jeanie

  7. I agree, to a point. The problem is two ideas are merged into the same word. I agree with sheltering and protection, making the decisions of things they are and are not allowed to do and not exposing them to the wrong images and ideas etc, I have no issues with that.

    The problem arises, I think, when a. children are not taught how and why these desicions are made, and b. when children are not prepared for the world, which does not mean conforming to it, it simply means coping with it.

    Starting with the first point, I think it’s right for a parent to make the final desicion on a childs friendships. And when a child is young they just have to accept it. But if a child dosen’t learn as they get older why and how these desicions are made, how can they make the correct desicion for themselves as adults, how will they decide for themselves who is a worthwhile friend. Or perhaps modesty is enforced but never truly explained more than ‘I don’t want boys seeing your long legs’. When a child grows older they could well decide they don’t mind having a guy see their legs, and what’s wrong with it anyway? Sometimes this happens because parents want to shelter the children to the fact there are issues in the world causing these desicions, or sometimes parents just never let go, making the desicions without explanation and figuring they’ll do that until the child figures it out themselves.

    The second point is, and again I’m not talking about 5 year olds, but about teenagers, young men and women, our children need to be able to cope in a world that is not ideal, that is not christian, and that does not work the way the bible says it should, even among christians. My husband (and I do have permission to talk about this from him) came from a home with what I consider negative sheltering, the two examples given above are real examples I’ve seen happen among their children. But not only was the sheltering without meaning, but he wasn’t taught to cope. When we first got together, he had no idea how to handle my parents, who approched dating and marriage with an idea and concept that I don’t think he even fully understood at the time. He knew how HE thought marriage and relationships should work, and what the bible had to say on it, but he had no idea how that related or compared to the current worldview on the matter, and you need to understand both. You need to know what you disagree with, and why, you can’t just say ‘that’s how it should be done, and I don’t understand how it’s done differently’. He wordlessly expected things that my family would never do and he couldn’t understand why they didn’t do what he expected them to. When my father was upset the day we announced our engagment (the whole loosing his daughter thing, plus, i was 17, and they were about to divorce) my husband was so upset, he couldn’t even comprehend, let alone accept, how anyone could see their 17 year old daughter getting married as a bad thing, or their warnings about waiting for children when he sees them as being a blessing. He had always worked for his fathers business and when issues happened in the financial crisis and it came time for my husband to find work himself, he was so terribly unsure, frightened and confused, because he knew he would be working under non-christians and had no idea at all what to expect, except for a belief that non-christians are horrible, lying, evil people. He has learnt to cope, and thrive, in a non-christian workplace and even has the opportunity to speak of and stand for his faith at times, but it is something he was completely unprepared for, and if I hadn’t grown up in the world with a non-christian family, and been able to explain the non-christian mindset to him I’m not sure what would have happened. Even now he is suprised by ‘normal’ behaviour from non-christians. He still struggles because he makes his plans, financial, social, political, emotional, all based on people other than himself acting the way the bible expects them to. We should make our plans based on what the bible says, but we simply can’t make plans reliant on others, non-christians, to act the way the bible says they should, plans that will fail if something unbiblical or sinful happens, because we do live in this world. He trusts people very quickly in some cases, especially those seeming to be helpful, like salespeople, because in a perfect world we would have no reason to mistrust and he dosen’t expect them to be lying. I think this is partially whats meant by being naive.

    So while we need to shelter our children, and we should certainly decide what they watch and who they hang out with, they also need to learn to make those desicions themselves in the future, and to be able to cope in a fallen world, because ultimately thats what they will have to do, we can’t shelter them forever, and they need to be ready to face the world and then shelter their own children.

    Sorry for the mini rant here, it’s just a topic that has come up a lot lately for me.

    • Very good points and well said! This is hot topic for many (and especially those of us who seen both sides of the coin). I think it very much depends on what your definition of sheltering is and how you go about doing it. Thanks so much for weighing in!