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Sheltered or Protected?

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I know that there are people who think that my husband and I are over-protecting or sheltering our children. I know that there are those who think that, because our kids are homeschooled, they are not being exposed to things to which they should be exposed, so that they’ll know how to deal with these things, you know, in the “real world.”

I saved an article from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine newsletter on the topic of “sheltering” our kids that was shared by someone in our homeschool support group a while back. I saved the article, because I knew that I would need to be reminded that we’re raising our kids in a way that, although often misunderstood, is how we feel God would have us to raise them.

The article says, in part

We’re finding [that “sheltering” is] a bad word in some circles. Something is creeping into the church (and even the homeschooling community), and it isn’t biblical. It is an “anti-sheltering campaign” of sorts, and it’s full of holes. Think about it. What does it mean to shelter? Protect. Defend. Guard. Preserve. Watch over. Shield. Safeguard. Hmmmm, so far so good, right? Sure, until “pop psychology” comes in and tells us we should allow our children to taste a little of the world in order to understand it or pray for it – that we should not “over-shelter” them. Nonsense.

What’s the opposite of shelter? Expose. Endanger. We parents are called to be like our Father in Heaven. He is the greatest “Shelterer” there ever was, and it is us He shelters – or watches over; protecting us, preserving us, shielding us. Praise Him for this! Glory to God who knows how to parent (shelter) us perfectly. May we as parents follow this model – His model. Let’s continue to shelter (love) our children as He loves us.

I think that “over-sheltering,” like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What is overly permissive for one family is just right for another. What is over-protective for one family is just protective enough for another.

I agree that children do not need to be naive about the things of the world, but they can be taught about worldly things from the basis of our family’s beliefs and value system in an age-appropriate manner based on the individual child’s maturity level, which only the child’s parents are in a position to determine.

I have previously addressed my feelings on the “real world” issue and on homeschooled kids being weird and unsocialized.

In my entire 38 years, I have never been offered or pressured by friends to try drugs, smoking or alcohol. I have never tried drugs or cigarettes. I have tried, but never cared for alcohol and years ago signed a covenant not to consume it. Am I naive, innocent or sheltered? Perhaps. And, I praise my God that it is so!

And, I will continue to do all that is within my power to shelter, protect, defend, guard, preserve, watch over, shield, and safeguard my children until it is time for the Holy Spirit to take over that job in their lives by giving them the wisdom and discernment to make godly choices. I will do my best to raise my children to be “shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) And, I will refuse to believe Satan’s lies that God would have me to do anything other than that with the lives to which He has entrusted me.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Kris,

    Thanks so much for this post! I know that when we start homeschooling, this will be something a lot of people will bring up.

  2. I loved this post. I have some family members who love to tell me I am sheltering my youngest too much. I have two teens who went to public school and if I culd change one thing I’ve done in my life THAT would be the thing I would change. BTW, I voted for you!

  3. Alisha – Thank you. I was feeling a bit passionate at the time I wrote it. 😉

    Ally – yes it will definitely come up. Don’t let them sway you!

    Earthmommy – Thank you so much for the vote!

    Jessica – I love when I inspire you to write. 😉

  4. As knowing you and your children personally, I don’t think that you are “sheltering” them. They know about the negatives of life. You are just making sure that they are taught how to deal with them! That is a lot more than they would get at public school. There they just get an “oh well, thats life” I hate that.

  5. I agree. I think that the opinion that children need to know how to deal with the ‘real world’ is overrated. I know that if we raise our children with their eyes, minds, and hearts focused on Christ there is NOTHING in the ‘real world’ they won’t have an answer for.

  6. I remember when you wrote about this before, and I think it’s a great topic. Call it sheltering, call it protecting, I’m happy to be doing it for my children. I like that I am there with them to guide them through life experiences. I want there to be no doubt in there minds where their parents stand on the issues you bring up in your post, as well as handling issues of bullying, friendships, etc. I want them with me while they are young and developing those strong convictions, so that as they get older and I am not with them every moment, they have that “shield” to carry. Sometimes I worry about my 5-yr. old, whom we’ve chosen to send to ps this year, because I know he hasn’t had as long to learn the values that are important to us. I know he’s not yet ready to be tested, if you kwim. Our family is not Christian, but I think this is similar to how many Christian, homeschooling families are choosing to raise their own kids.

  7. Amen! I was thinking of the Matt 10 verse while I was reading. Once in a while, my husband is amazed at the slang terms that I don`t know; often, I tell him I don`t want to know what they mean. I prefer being sheltered. There is evil out there that I don`t need to know about. 🙂

  8. We are not new to homeschooling but rather returning to homeschooling. Your post just summarized everything I have been feeling and exactly why I have decided that putting my precious young sons in school was a HUGE mistake! If it is ok I want to link to this on my blog so family and friends can read it.

    Thank you!

  9. Earlier I was reading Toast Floats at Alasandra’s Blog and I thought she pretty much covered what irks homeschoolers the most until I read this entry. Make this #11 and my pet peeve!

    I tell people that we should start making our toddlers cross the street by themselves because, “they have to learn how to deal with that kind of stuff.” Paleeese, not until we have fulfilled our Godly parental responsibility to prepare them for what is out there. And in this day and age, that takes a loooong time.

    Now I have to go post something about this at Alasandra’s.

  10. Thanks for a great post! I’m glad to be “sheltering” my child as well. I wrote a bit about “socialization” a few months back here. And then of course, some of what you said here is listed among the reasons why I homeschool!

  11. I once read a quote, although I cannot remember who said it: "Would you rather have your child educated in Hell, or ignorant in Heaven?"

    Now I am not saying that by homeschooling your children they will be ignorant, as my husband and I plan to homeschool our children. The point the author of this quote was trying to make is, do you want/need your children to be educated in the "things of this world" if they will be exposed to so many unnecessary things as well?
    Sheltering our children can be good, as long as we shelter them from the right things.

  12. THANK YOU!!!  Ugh, I have decided to homeschool my children and I've been getting slack about being overprotective.  So well said!  

  13. well Im not christian but agreed on main point. Why do I need to expose them to crap and bad influences? The dangers and miseries of life creep in no matter what you do. Like you really could shelter someone without locking them up.

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