Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are You Overprotective?

While any parent may be accused of being overprotective, the label probably most often falls on homeschoolers. There is the fear that the homeschooled child is being isolated and will therefore not be prepared for the "real world."  I've already discussed this real world, which I do not believe that the public school reflects. The real world is based primarily on family life and activities that involve people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. What I want to focus upon now is the responsibility mothers and fathers have to protect their children. We teach our children to look both ways before crossing the street, don't we? We don't just throw them to the wolves and leave them to their own devices.

Let's look at some specific cases. I once heard about a dad who forced his 4-year-old son to watch horror movies and ridiculed the child for crying. This is an extreme case that amounts to child abuse, and the vast majority of parents would agree that young children need to be sheltered from murderous, bloody, gruesome images. We do not blithely say, "Well, he's going to be exposed to this stuff in the real world, so he may as well get used to it."  Yet that is exactly what many parents argue in less extreme, but still very important, situations.

I heard about another case of a parent who removed her children from public school because a child had brought marijuana to school--elementary school. I do not know what other reasons may have lead to the choice to homeschool, but this is something that seems like a valid reason to me, while to someone else may seem overprotective. First of all, we are not required to give "good enough" reasons for our homeschooling to anyone. We have the freedom in this country to live this educational lifestyle, and that is that. But looking at this particular case, it is safe to say that grade school is too young to be expected to deal with the temptation of drugs. In my opinion, exposure to drugs should be avoided at all costs, forever. But that is not likely to happen. Kids are going to see drugs, maybe not until college, but they will most likely be exposed at some point in life. The answer is education. Kids need to know the dangers and how to handle them when they occur. But what parent in his right mind would think, "I may as well smoke pot in front of my kids at home, because they are going to see it some day, and otherwise they won't be prepared"?

I could go on, but I think the point is well made. It is irresponsible not to provide shelter for one's children, whether physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual. Parents need to have good judgment about what is appropriate to teach their children according to the child's age, development, and individual constitution. You know your child better than anyone. One teenager might be ready to date at age 15, while another not until a couple of years later. Some parents have reverted to the tradition of courting, rather than allowing kids to ride away in cars. That will seem overprotective to some.

One's parenting choices may seem like religious radicalism to the outside world. I don't care. Do you? When you get to heaven, you will have to account for how you raised your children. Did you prepare them with examples of a godly life and how to counter the darkness they will eventually experience? Did you build them up with confidence in themselves and the Lord? Or did you set them loose in the neighborhood and merely cross your fingers? People who see and experience evil, horrors, inappropriate language and images, and all manner of things damaging to the psyche and spirit as children do not typically grow up edified to live a healthy, functional life. The child who grows up watching porn, for example, is going to have a very warped view of sex and relationships.

Living a holy life will not be seen as normal by the vast majority of people. Homeschooling will be misunderstood and considered weird, mark my words. Your kids may not appreciate the boundaries and guidelines you set, but they will feel more secure in having them defined. Yes, we must trust our children to live and behave as we have taught them. We must let them go to make their own way in the world when it is time. But first, the Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

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