Once again, Gena hits a home run with her very timely article on sheltering our children. Ironically, this came to my inbox the evening of December 23...which had been a day in which this subject had come up several times. I was asked to 'define sheltering' for myself, which was pretty crazy considering I have always known what sheltering my children means to me :) However, Gena so succinctly put it into words, far better than I could have. I hope that you will find much encouragement in her article. I know that I did!
Am I Sheltering My Child Too Much?
By Gena Suarez
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 "Christian 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 (the kids being "salt and light" baloney in the public schools is a good example) - 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. Is God missing something, here? Should He instead follow the advice of those (shamefully, some of these are even pastors!) who say to lay off a bit? Thankfully, the Lord is a bit wiser than that. 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. Dismiss the garbage that crawls in; don't buy it. We're promised there will be false teachers, liars in the church (and there are many). I want to keep my eyes focused on Christ, come what may.
By the way, someone once shared with me that when it comes to parenting, she would rather err on the side of being a little too careful/sheltering than to err on the wrong side. Paul and I agree wholeheartedly with this. We would prefer to be a tad "too" protective than to make a major mistake we can't take back once it's done. We've learned some hard lessons over the years.
And as our kids get much older, as we see the Truth in them growing as they take on their own relationship with the Lord, complete with Godly convictions, we can loosen up the reins a little. There's no set formula for this, though, so don't let anyone try and give you one. You know your children better than anyone, and can assess their maturity in the Lord best. After all, this is why you are homeschooling them (or did homeschool them through graduation), so that you can customize their education both academically, and most importantly, in God's word. But again, be careful. Do it slowly and if you're going to "go overboard", do so on the conservative end. Don't err on the wrong side.
And just to be clear, this doesn't mean to stop sheltering them. During the short time we have them, we have a responsibility to protect them and to guard them against ungodly influences and worldly displays the best we can. The wisest thing we can do right now is to soak them in God's word. Pour it into their hearts. Train them up in His ways so that as they get older and begin to leave the nest, they walk in Truth and can go out and start families, bringing their own children up (tightly to their hips) in the love and admonition of their Lord.
May your sweet children rise up and call you blessed for your faithfulness and hard work in raising them up in Christ. It's not easy, it's often thankless (for years), and you can fall into doubts, especially when you come up against a whining 14 or 16 year old who wants his way (and wants YOU out of his way). Don't give into the doubts; that's a trap. Rather, lovingly stand firm. God stands firmly beside us, sheltering us. May we do the same for our children.
"Glory to God who knows how to parent (shelter) us perfectly!"
Parents: Keep sheltering them. You are bringing them up in the love and admonition of the Lord, not in the latest "homeschool philosophy." God's word trumps any speaker! It dwarfs any author! May you be blessed as you continue to walk in obedience of His word.
Lord, thank you for sheltering me. Please never stop. "Over-shelter" if You will (if there is such a thing). Fine with me!
Over-protect, over-defend, over-guard me; please do! I'll take it all, Lord. Keep me tight to Your side. I'm safe in that place. There, I can breathe and thrive. It's where I find my hope in Christ.
For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. - Psalms 61:3
Action point: Do you need to repent to someone today for looking down on (judging) them? Have you been a thorn in another parent's side over this issue? Who have you scolded or cryptically "spoken to" about their "overbearance" in regards to their own children? It might be time to humbly pick up the phone or shoot off an email.
Parents who strongly shelter their children are to be praised, not made to feel inadequate or odd. That's the world lying to us, there. And this world is not our home. Paul and Gena Suarez reside in Gray, Tennessee, where they homeschool(ed) their six children: Paul (20), Luke (19), Levi (16), Julia Rachel (14), Susanna Hope (3) and Chloe Abigail (10 months). They enjoy long country drives in the van while listening to books on CD, hanging out with good friends, and staying up late. By the grace of God, the Suarez family publishes The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC. Let Gena know what you thought of this article at her personal email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright, 2010, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, used with permission.