Call me crazy, but I have never left my newborn out in the street and expected her to crawl home.
I never took my toddler to Walmart and left him in the store, expecting him to find his own way to the car.
I don’t have the habit of taking my 7-year-old out into the forest and letting her find her own way to the camp site.
I actually make my children wear coats when it’s cold, and I don’t let them play out in thunder storms. I have even been known to coerce them to eat nutritious food for dinner rather than cake and candy!
I have further sheltered them by insisting they do not play on rail-road tracks, in the middle of freeways, or hang out in drug-dens.
Yes, I unabashedly keep my kids from harm in any way I can, especially at very tender ages; not just physical harm, but emotional and spiritual as well.
My younger children seldom play alone with others outside of our family. They don’t go into neighbor’s houses, and, with few exceptions, neighbors’ children are not found in our home (and, by the way, we know our neighbors by name and speak with them and help them regularly).
When we do socialize, it is as a family, and even then closely monitored. Even if they are being watched during a church service, a family member is there with them (once a pedophile posing as a children’s church worker took our then 7-year-old to a back room during service, so we upped our oversight).
Now, as the children mature and grow in stature these parameters are relaxed a great deal. Their circle of influence widens to include more of the outside world, and often their friends come over and are treated like part of the family (meaning they are expected to help with chores, etc.), but even so that is monitored according to the needs of our family until a young person leaves the nest.
It doesn’t matter that our lifestyle meets with anyone else’s approval, it is what God has told us to do in accordance to how He has created us with our particular personalities and needs, and it has born wonderful fruit. My children know a few very wonderful things that are missing in most of us:
- They know where they belong, and they know who they are apart from any group.
- Home is a safe place, a retreat from the noise.
- One can be sociable and kind to many, but true friends are where your focus should be.
- There should be time to think, reflect, and just be yourself without the intrusion of outside evaluation.
My older children all grew up in this way, and now as adults are not stunted at all. They function quite well in any and all social situations. They know how to get along with others without being double-minded because they aren’t constantly evaluating themselves according to what others might think.
They are managers and coordinators and leaders and teachers. People depend on them. They sing and play instruments before audiences and they speak before audiences. They know how to make others feel welcomed and relaxed.
Of course, when they were younger they often awkward around guests, but that is according to personality and age; everyone experiences a little of that. Sometimes the older ones have learned about friends through trial and error–that comes with life, too. I am not saying that our sheltering produced super-socialized human beings, just that it gave them a more secure foundation from which to process the relationships in their lives.
There have been studies done on how well homeschoolers do socially when compared to public schooled individuals, and I guess this data could be important to someone who needs scientific backup, but I couldn’t care less. My children are not numbers, and they don’t fit well into categories (I don’t believe any of us fit well into categories). They are eternal, intrinsically valuable, unique individuals created in the image of God, and I expect that each one will defy the statistics in one way or another (either positively or negatively, depending on the perspective).
I personally have come to the conclusion that children raised in a peer-dependent environment grow up “socialized” all right, but in a way that kills the human spirit. They grow up never quite knowing who they are and are easily influenced by anyone and everyone who uses big words to describe things that should be common sense and call themselves “experts.”
How many of us silly adults make life-changing decisions after considering advice from some article in a supermarket magazine, or, worse yet, from watching some pompous, self-proclaimed national counselor on TV? No wonder people don’t understand why we shelter our children; we have all been conditioned from the earliest ages that growing up naturally, among parents and those who love us, is not “normal,” even when we have all suffered to one extent or the other at the hands of teachers and fellow students at early, tender ages.
Coddling a 30 year old is sin; coddling a 5 year old is called PARENTING.
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