“Clearly there is an appropriate kind of sheltering. When those who are opposed to homeschooling accuse me of sheltering my children, my reply is always, ‘What are you going to accuse me of next, feeding and clothing them?”— R.C. Sproul Jr.
I was at my moms’-group yesterday, and heard a pair of women exclaiming incredulously over a young lady who realized much later than most that sex happens outside of marriage.
“I don’t know how in the world she missed it that long,” said one. “I mean, it’s even in the Bible.” The tone hovered somewhere between scorn and pity for this poor girl, and I (with my latest thoughts and feelings) couldn’t help saying, “Maybe it was a mercy.”
I had no opportunity to expand on this, because at that point I accidentally knocked over a cup of juice and spent the next five minutes dealing with that.
But I have been frustrated hearing this sort of talk before.
Talking with my uncle late last year, I endured his monologue about how worried he’d been for us kids because we were homeschooled and sheltered from the real world. I didn’t think at the time to say I was grateful for my ignorance.
Via e-mail this week I got a little article by By Gena Suarez, one of the owner/publishers of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, that articulated perfectly the way I feel about this.
Do you “shelter” your children?
We’re finding that’s 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.
I’ve observed the arguments against sheltering typically fall under one of two categories:
First, the warning that the poor child will suffer culture-shock upon entering the “real world,” and the second, that his/her uninitiated palette will irresistibly succumb to these new and tantalizing flavors.
Leaving aside that these two possibilities seem a little contradictory, lets look at them.
First, the second (I love writing that): never having seen an actual study, I can’t even stay whether this theory is statistically true, but I don’t think it is.
My educated opinion is that when children leave the faith or are “led into sin” there are more factors than just sheltering involved.
I would blame, for example, a controlling environment where independent thought is not taught or encouraged. This lack of preparation for making choices would leave anyone vulnerable.
As to “culture shock,” I think that the majority of Americans are more “sheltered” than all but the most sheltered of children.
If they ever got the culture shock of abject poverty, of the continual fear and violence common in other parts of the world, would they be more or less likely to be thankful for the security of the familiar?
This is how I felt upon my greater acquaintance with “the real world:”
Thankful it hadn’t been foisted on me sooner.
And why the implication that culture shock is inherently negitive? (But that’s another post. Moving on.)
Ultimately, I think we have to look at what our goals are. Sure, perfect children would be the ideal, but as they will make their own choices that we cannot control, we have to eventually accept that.
People who do not shelter their children will make the same discovery, and I wonder if they will have more questions about whether they left out something important.
My goal is to give my children enough of a “boost” toward Truth that their own leap toward faith may not have to be into the perilous unknown.
It’s a well-established fact that humans both fear the unknown and resist starting things they don’t know will succeed.
As a parent I want to remove what stumbling blocks are in my power to remove, and one of those stumbling blocks is the outside influences that can distract from Truth or skew a developing perspective towards a more hardened heart than God intended.
Sheltering is part of meeting this goal.