Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Over-Protected, Under-Sheltered



  • In the state of Wisconsin (and probably your state, too), children now have to be in car seats until they are 8 years old,
  • On playgrounds across America, games such as tag and dodge-ball are being banned because "someone might get hurt",
  • Several days ago, I received a phone call from my insurance company, telling me that it was time to bring my one-year-old in for his "well baby" appointment, so that he could receive a flu shot. Let me get this straight--I'm supposed to bring my healthy baby to the doctor's office in the middle of flu season so that he can get a flu shot? What sense does that make?
As home educators, we are often accused of "over-sheltering" our children. Might I suggest that it is the rest of the world that has their priorities backwards?

Not long ago, a friend of mine made the decision to remove her child from public preschool. Her daughter was clearly not doing well in this environment. The class size was huge, she claimed to have no friends, and came home upset nearly every day. The bus ride was one hour long. For a four year old? Seriously? Who is supervising those kids for a full hour on the bus?...and what happens when one of those little ones needs to use a bathroom? 

Anyway, her mother made the wise decision to take her out of that school. Any "preschooling" her daughter needs she will receive at home. For most reasonable people, this would seem to be a no-brainer. But you should have heard some of the comments she received from "friends"! Comments like:
  • "She'll get used to it," (really? that's a good thing?)
  • "She needs socialization," (don't get me started...)
  • "You can't shelter her forever!"
Come on people! No one is talking about sheltering her "forever"! She's four years old! There was a time when mothers wouldn't dream of NOT sheltering their little ones. The human spirit was considered sacred and precious, and the heart of a child was to be kept pure and undefiled by the world.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Proverbs 4:23

"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
Matthew 18:6

The way I see it, the reason that the "Safety Nazis" have gained such a profound foothold in American culture is because we, as a society, are utterly failing at guarding our children's hearts

And we know it.
  • It begins when we ship our tiny babies off to day care when they are just 6-8 weeks old, 
  • Continues year after year as we abdicate our responsibilities as parents and hand them off to an endless stream of teachers and babysitters (who spend more time with our own children than we do),
  • And ends when our teenagers completely ignore everything we say, cut us off from their lives, and we wonder why we have no relationship with them.
Since we are totally unwilling to alter our lifestyles, live on one income, and accept responsibility for our own kids, we take all of the legitimate parent guilt we feel and warp it into a psychologically unhealthy mixture of worry and irrational overprotection.

I mean, think about it! What's wrong with this picture?
  • Parents freak out when their kids climb trees or hang upside down from the monkey bars, but they have no problem with using cable TV or video games as a babysitter,
  • We provide our 12 year olds with cell phones "to use in case of an emergency", but we don't monitor their text messages or which websites they are accessing on the internet,
  • Parents who wouldn't dream of teaching their teenagers the appropriate handling and use of a firearm seem to have no problem allowing the school system to teach them how to use a...oh, wait, this is a family friendly blog, but you know exactly what I mean...
  • Mothers weep and lament when their 19 year old daughters decide to get married and have babies, but have no qualms about sending their daughters off to college with a Gardasil shot and the phone number for the nearest Planned Parenthood office...just in case.
No wonder our kids are confused! We refuse to protect them from the things that can cause them real harm, while coddling them into an existence that consists of nothing more constant, mindless entertainment and self-indulgence. They learn how to regurgitate the right answers when it comes to test taking time, but they have no idea how to work hard, get their hands dirty, or accept responsibility. When they graduate from high school, they know how to psychoanalyze their parents, but they don't know how to balance a check book. They know how to rephrase their speech so that it is "politically correct", but they don't know how to think for themselves.

We must face reality. The government-run public education system is not preparing our children for real life. Isn't it ironic that we, as home educators, are so often accused of "sheltering" our children from real life?

The opposite is true!

The public school system is an artificial social construction at best. At no other time in your children's lives will they be surrounded by a large group consisting solely of their peers...

Unless they decide to become cogs in the industrial machine--and anyone who has spent any time working in a factory will tell you that many of the people who work in factories have never outgrown the high school social mentality!

Home-schooled children, on the other hand, have all sorts of opportunity to experience real life. They have the world as their classroom. They aren't just taught what to think (although, we surely must impart our values to our children), but also how to think. They have plenty of opportunities to socialize with people of all ages--peers, older children, babies, grown-ups, and grandparents. The have free time where they can learn autonomy. They can be given responsibilities in the home, at a job outside the home, or in a family run business.

As someone who went to public school from Kindergarten through 12th grade, I can assure you that there are a lot of things that I "learned" in school that I wish I hadn't...and a great many that I wish I had.

So, yes, I do shelter my children. But no, I do not over-protect them. There is a difference.

A BIG difference.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on some things. I do have to say though that it sounds like at some points you are judging people who send their kids to public school. I think also that if it is a strong christian home that kids can turn out just great from going to a public school.. I know that I turned out wonderful as a christian going to a public school.

Kevin Miller said...

Alright, someone pulled out the 'judging' card, and remained anonymous. If I was hitting my kid, would you 'judge' me by stopping me? Or stay politically correct and look the other way while I beat the crap out of them? You can have the 'right or wrong' debate, let's just look at 'healthy or unhealthy.' A baby is born, do you think it best and natural for the being that bore it to care for it, or place it in a group of others for a 'caregiver' to raise? Overall, come on, which is healthier? A twinkie, and an apple. Which is healthier? Will you judge me if all I eat is twinkies? And I grow obese and ill and end up in the hospital? As in indigent funded by your tax money?

Preach it Tiana. As you know, the more you offend, the more you'll help save.

Ann-Marie said...

Tiana, I understand your point of view and your advocacy for your children and obvious dedication to them are wonderfully evident! You are an amazing mother, and I would expect no less of my dear friend.

However, you are being a little pie-in-the-sky, as well. The world does not always allow for one or both parents to stay home. It isn't always possible for children to be schooled at home. There are many benefits to public school, too. As with all things in life, it's a balancing act of making sure children receive the positive messages they need from their home environment to go out into the world (where they will have to go eventually) equipped to make good choices.

It's transparent that you are a considerate and thoughtful parent! Remember that we all want what's best for our kids, and "what's best" will translate differently for each family depending on their life circumstances.

Kathryn Lockwood-Marshall said...

This is an AMAZING post!!! So much insight - I'm really bowled over by it. We experienced this when we sent our daughter to kindergarten last year after being home with me all her life. In her five little years previous, she'd been surrounded by people who love and respect her but met the sad reality at school that some people are just plain mean. It was so hard for her to deal with, but when people asked me then if I was upset I'd decided to keep her home instead of sending her to preschool, I said NO! Why break her heart at an even younger age? At least she had those first five years steeped in constant love and acceptance - which they say are the formative years for one's personality for life.

Anonymous said...

Ok first the first post I posted if you see that I said I agree with her (in homeschooling). The thing that I disagree it that some parents don't have that choice or that they choose to send their kids to public school. We shouldn't judge them for that because good strong christian parents can teach them the biblical ways at home while they go to public school. I think it is great that Tiana is homeschooling but I also think everyones circumstances are different and we need to keep that in mind as well

teri said...

Okay, I get the perspective that we aren't supposed to 'judge'...howEVER...
Truth is truth is truth. We all know deep inside what would be best & healthiest & most supportive & loving for our children. Doesn't mean we all DO that consistently. We all fall short of the glory of God, eh?
The truth remains the same, whether or not our circumstances make it difficult to pursue the best choices. Granted, there are many, many hard situations with single parents, financial crisis, etc, where the 'best' choice for the child is not really feasible. BUT, more often than not, parents simply take the easy-way-out (which eventually bites them in the butt when it becomes the HARD way!!) and send kids to public school. 'Cause that is just expected in our culture; its just what we do. We work two jobs & live in cushy homes & make certain all is comfortable...while someone else raises our children.
We can have compassion on those hard situations, without getting all pansy about the truth, and watering down what we all know deep inside to be best for raising our children.
Tiana, you are so right on. I don't hear 'judgement' - I simply hear clear convictions & bold statements about truth. Again, we can agree with truth, yet not always pursue it well. I know that I should eat a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods...but I still just want a can of Pringles, a diet Coke, and a Hershey bar every once in a while...!! When I begin to justify that those are actually 'healthy' choices, and you shouldn't 'judge' me for eating that for breakfast every morning...well, that's where our culture has gotten all ridiculous. Pulling out the ol' "don't judge me" card is a culturally convenient way to justify less-than-best choices. Do we need to have compassion? Absolutely!!! But to let that cloud unequivocal truth? Never.

Anonymous said...

I also think that our kids can go to public school and still turn out fine. I grew up in a christian home where we were taught the christian value and still went to public school. I have lots of friends that grew up being home schooled and their parents were christians and they still went and rebelled so also realize that just because they are being homeschooled doesn't mean that they are not going to stray from GOds path when they grow up.

*Mirage* said...

Another wonderful post Tiana! God bless you for speaking the truth!

Of course kids CAN go to public school and turn out fine. I COULD walk daily into a room full of people with the swine flu and still not ever get it myself. But just as walking daily into a building full of physical germs every day is taking a risk and isn't good for my physical health, walking into a building full of spiritual germs every day takes a toll on the faith. Just as a home education alone is not going to guarantee Godliness. God told us to train up our children in the way they should go. He didn't say send them off to someone else to train. He didn't say teach them their ABC's and they will automatically know right from wrong. He did say that if we train them right they will not depart from the right path even when they are old.

And just having Christian parents does NOT cut it. Just because my mom loves Jesus doesn't mean I will automatically. Some people get so distracted with the academic aspect of homeschooling that they forget Godly character training is more important than math. If your child is home with you, you can more easily train them up in the way they should go, because you will not only have more TIME to do so, but you will also not have them in an environment of spiritual "germs" all day 5 days a week undermining what you're trying to teach.

My husband went to public school and he turned out just fine too. PUBLIC SCHOOL IS NOT THE SAME now as it was 20-30+ years ago. Children are being vaccinated against their parents wishes, provided with abortions and condoms without their parents knowlege, and encouraged to do whatever makes them happy and never tell anyone else that something is a 'sin.' I am not sending my little soldiers off to war with this before they are fully trained.

Anonymous said...

all I am saying is that it doesn't make anyone any less of a christian if they send their kids to school. They can still be taught at home the biblical ways.

Anonymous said...

Tiana,
Thank you for boldy speaking the truth. As you know, I am in full agreement with you.
Hannah

Anonymous said...

yes it is the truth that we should teach our kids the way. You can take that as homeschooling or as teaching them bibcally when they are home. It does not mean that you have to homeschool your kids. Still as long as you are teaching your kids biblically (whether they are home schooled or go to public school) you are obeying God.

Christine

memoriesmama said...

I have to agree with you on most points. I might "shelter" my kids, but I don't over-protect them. They will learn the "ways of the world" when age appropriate and not be subjected to growing up too fast.

Janet said...

I am a Christian, SAHM, homeschooling my 11th grade son, for the first time. He attended a Christian private school, since he was 3yrs. old. His father recently decided to leave us to go in search of greener pastures and refused to pay any longer for private school, wanting instead to send him to a secular public school, where he is not even allowed to speak the name GOD.
i am new to the blogging world and would love to share my blog with others as well.
http://janetwilliswilliams.blogspt.com/

p.s. i am following you! ;-)

Janet said...

oops. http://janetwilliswilliams.blogspot.com/

Liz said...

wonderful post. i have to agree that some things are just better- but that does not mean it is always possible. but just because someone points out the truth (homeschooling for chrisitian families is better) does not mean they are judging. this is identical to the whole breastfeeding thing. breastmilk is better than formula- but by saying so, suddenly we are "judging" moms who can't or won't....
i found your post encouraging :)

Brandy said...

Hi!! First time dropping by ... came thru the HSBA voting page (checking out new blogs and seeing who in the world to vote for -- so many good ones out there!!). I love, love, love, LOVE this post!!!! A big heart AMEN!

I'll definitely be back!! Blessings to you and your wonderful family!

Fruitful Vine2 said...

Definitely a big difference. I don't care to consult the opinions of people. I choose to do what the Lord and my husband agrees with.

Came over via The Homeschool Lounge. Enjoy your evening.

Annie said...

Views like yours will always be scrutinized won't they? I salute you for following the Lord and your husband. That is all God asks of us - to raise the children to love the Lord above all else! You are a very Godly woman to post an article like this not caring what people will say. It is a light in the darkness for sure!
I am currently trying to decide between homeschool my daughter in the future and sending her to the private Christian school. I am sure that finances will be the ultimate deciding factor! I am amazed that people will send their 3 year olds to pre school! I am getting scrutinized for keeping her home, isn't that funny?
Great post!

Sonja said...

That was a great post. Found your site through the HSBA as well. When we first decided to homeschool, most everyone was okay with it. The only thing that was brought up more times than none was socialization. And that is quite funny to me, since we're a military family and have moved 3 times in the last 6 years...fixing to move again...and have to socialize quite quickly with everyone around us. :) Putting you on my blogs to follow..thanks for speaking the truth.

p.s. I'm not an "older" parent, but just fixing to hit my 30s and going to school during the late 80s and 90s, times were changing much more so than before. Kids get lost educationally wise through the system and the school either doesn't care or can't do anything for them--budgets and all that come into play too. Then, with religion, I know our daughter went to PreK and she prayed before her meals and it wasn't allowed. We started homeschooling her right after that year.

Nicole Bukle said...

Thank you for standing up for truth, This is my second year homeschooling, daughters 7th, 1st, and pre-K, and my oldest was in public school. Oh what degradation she received, she was called names and the school kids were cliquish. Public school is ungodly, and it is like sending children to war unprepared, while they teach humanistic values, and selfish ways, and that God has nothing to do with your education. I agree with your post.

Anonymous said...

This is amazing! I have this discussion with people constantly. I was schooled at home, and whenever I tell people that, the first thing they say is "wow! You have really good social skills!" as if homeschooled kids could never have real social skills! What makes us think we want our child's social skills to be learned from secular peers? How does that even remotely make sense?

Anyway, coming from someone who was homeschooled and intends to do the same with her children, GOOD POST!!!!

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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