Because this topic of sheltering is so important and still comes up now and then, even in homeschooling circles, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts. The subject of sheltering or protecting one’s children, may be subtly mentioned at a gathering of homeschool moms, at the curbside with a neighbor, or even at church. Many folks these days….even some homeschoolers, are quite proud of the fact that they do not believe in “over” sheltering their children. They confidently declare, “I don’t believe in sheltering my children because I want them to know how to make it in the real world” or “I think children need to be given plenty of freedom so that they can make mistakes while still under our roof. ” In the past, especially when our children were younger, folks have actually suggested that my husband and I are sheltering our children so much that when they are on their own they will turn completely wild; having no self-control whatsoever. Clearly, there are no guarantees, and because our children have free will, sadly, it is possibly that they may go astray. Regardless of this sad fact, we parents are called to be watchman, good shepherds, and gate-keepers for our families.
These ideas of permissive parenting, make me pause and wonder…where is the verse in the Bible that mentions: “Thou shalt expose thy children to plenty of wrongdoing , so that when they are older they will not partake any longer.” My husband and I work at protecting our children from temptations and even though we are conscious of this all the time, sadly, we have sometimes failed. No matter how careful we are, because we live in this world and battle with our old sin nature, each of us will be exposed to evil. Yet, when someone speaks ill of the idea of sheltering children, I feel grieved and disappointed and begin to wonder what they want their children to be exposed to anyway. Aren’t we all exposed enough just living in this world? Do they want to add to this by allowing their children to watch R rated programs, hang out with neighbor kids at the liquor store, have access to the internet, go to dances, attend drinking parties, hang out with unbelievers…what? Not really. It seems that for Christian families, it may sound more like….”I want my children to participate in sleep-overs, have plenty of unsupervised conversation with peers, and very limited time with family…especially mom and dad.” “I want them to be very active in youth programs and church activities away from our own family.” Maybe they won’t admit that…but that’s the way it plays out. One dear Christian friend of mine who’s son began taking drugs, remarked “I don’t know what happened, he was in youth group at church all the time!” I pray that the Lord will help us to connect the dots and realize that often our difficulties arise because of our own bad choices.
Have you ever passed by a really stinky garbage can? You know it is so offensive and smelly that you walk around it, hopefully avoiding the awful stench. It may have dirty diapers, old chicken bones, moldy food, maybe even maggots crawling around in it. You can tell just by walking by, that it is something to be avoided. It never occurs to us that we should examine it closer…perhaps rummaging through the contents a bit. We would never taste of its contents to see how awful and unacceptable it is. If we are exposed to the rotten food, and actually taste it…..would that be helpful and give us tools to survive in the real world?
I’m sure you get my sarcasm here and understand my point. My husband and I are careful to discuss what’s going on in this world with our children as we don’t want them to be ignorant, naive and vulnerable. Surely, they are going to know about the contents in that trash can. We are exposed all the time just by keeping up with current events on the news. Even with careful gatekeeping and sheltering our children will see things that will make us cringe. It is impossible to protect them from everything because we live in such a wicked generation. Although our children will know about the evil and sin in the world, they will not need to hang out with it.
We believe in sheltering our children. My husband believes in sheltering me and I shelter him. Thankfully our Lord shelters us…and may He never stop. He shelters us like a good shepherd….He leads us beside the still waters. He leads us in the paths of righteousness. Praise be to God that He doesn’t send us to places where we will be vulnerable and tempted to sin. Thanks to the Lord that He reminds us to run from evil…even the appearances of evil.
May the Lord bless you as you train and disciple your children…protecting and sheltering them as the Lord shelters us. ~Anne
(Rom. 12:1-2), “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
(Isaiah 40:11) He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
(Mark 9:42) And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Psalm 23:1-4 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.