Generation Cedar

Read Part 2: Socialization

True story:

One day, I had all my children with me in a fabric store. As I was checking out, the cashier engaged my daughter in a conversation. After quite a lengthy discussion with her, she finally discovered that we homeschooled. She then looked at me and asked, “How will your children ever learn to talk to people if y’all are at home all the time?”

It’s only fitting that we discuss the misconception of “sheltering children too much” as a natural follow-up to the socialization question. There are several problems with the accusation that homeschoolers shelter their children too much.

What does it mean

The first one is, that when someone accuses us of “sheltering,” what they’re really assuming is that homeschooling parents try to keep their children under cover, hidden and oblivious from sin and worldliness. Not only is that kind of life virtually impossible, that is not at all the angle that most of us take.

The other problem is that too many parents, Christians included, have been deceived into thinking that protecting their children is bad…that sheltering–the accurate form–is harmful, when in fact, it’s our sole responsibility, going hand-in-hand with “training them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Satan roams to and fro upon the earth seeking whom he may devour. Tragically, children are an easy target when they are left to themselves. (“A child left to himself brings shame to his mother”. -Proverbs)

Most homeschooling parents raise their children with the philosophy that being immersed in a sinful culture, where wickedness is exalted and righteousness is abased, calls for a careful walk alongside them, providing for them a “biblical lens” through which they may view the world. We believe that children are not mature, not readily discerning, and need the careful guidance of their parents as they filter and process all the stimuli they receive.

(By the way, homeschoolers not only actually leave the house, but probably have more contact with “the real world” than do those children who are confined to a building all day with the same people. The freedom of homeschooling provides such opportunity for activities, outings, and interaction with the public, that our problem is usually how to curb our interaction, rather than trying to create it.)

Seeing the world through the lens of Scripture

My children are not sheltered at all from knowing about sin (sex, drugs, adultery–they know about it all, unfortunately.); they do however, remain under their parents’ protection (which is God’s protection) while they are learning to distinguish truth from lies. Instead of becoming buddies with the guy or girl at school that is sexually promiscuous, hearing from them all about how fun it is, and having their parent’s authority about right and wrong undermined (“they said having sex before marriage was bad, but my friend seems to be fine”), we are able to point to examples of those whose lives are being destroyed by immorality…we can point to those happy-go-lucky teenagers who are now miserable adults with broken families…showing them the ultimate end of those who choose godlessness.

“Most homeschooling parents raise their children with the philosophy that being immersed in a sinful culture, where wickedness is exalted and righteousness is abased, calls for a careful walk alongside them, providing for them a “biblical lens” through which they may view the world.

Wisdom from the Bible

This was my personal experience in the public school system. I knew all about right and wrong, being raised in a Christian home from birth. But when I entered high school, and almost every kid there was involved in a sinful life of some sort, it became normal, and my parents became weird. I was flung out there to discern between all the confusing messages, with no wise counsel to guide me. (I’m sure some kids do, but I didn’t go home and tell my parents all the filth that was going on and ask them to explain it.)

When the Bible admonishes us to “walk not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful”…how much more should we be making sure our children are not doing that?

When the Bible urges us to “guard your heart with all diligence”…what does that mean? Can we guard our children’s hearts when they are away from us most of the day, under influences that we don’t even know about?

If a boy were to want to become a fireman, he would not be taken to a burning house and told, “go in and figure out how to put it out–that’s the best way to learn about fires.”

No, he would train alongside experienced firemen; he would read, learn and study the nature of fires. After a while, he would be given protective gear and taught how to use it. After that, he would be allowed to practice, in a controlled situation, with the experienced firemen, on a smaller scale.

Slowly, gradually, and carefully, he would be trained and little by little, allowed more opportunity to combat a real fire. One day, he would be fully ready to wage his own battle against that billowing enemy. But he would only survive if he had been properly and carefully trained along the way.

So it is with this spiritual battle. We MUST walk alongside our children until they are ready to wage war alone.

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