"The Socialization Issue"
Homeschool Section

Subject : Re: Need Advice (long version)
Posted by Kevin & Kate Megill on Wednesday, 26 November 1997, at 4:54 p.m., in response to Need Advice, posted by Alana on Wednesday, 26 November 1997, at 9:33 a.m.

Dear Alana,

The responses you have received were all excellent. There are only two points (neither of them are mine originally) that also might add insight to share with your friend.

Our children are born to us with a bent toward sin but without input as to what Truth is. The "real world" also doesn't know what Truth is, because it is found only in God. As believing parents our main objective it to fill our children's hearts with the Truth of God and His Word. But we do this gradually as they are able to understand, as their maturity and character increases so they can handle the weight many of these Truths bear. We do not first teach them the lie and then try to combat it. Here are my two illustrations:

Tellers in banks are taught to recognize counterfeit money, this is imperative in order for them to properly function in their capacity. But they are taught by being isolated and allowed to handle nothing but the genuine article. They, over time, can recognize it by the feel, the texture, the look. Unless they were first saturated with the "truth" of real money, they would easily be taken in by the "deceptiveness" of the counterfeit.

Next:

When Corrie ten Boom was 5 years old she went on a train trip with her father. As they walked toward the station she asked him, "What is sex sin?". He put down his suitcase and said to her, "Corrie, please carry the suitcase for me." She struggled to obey but responded, "Papa, it is too heavy for me to carry." "Yes, Corrie, and so is the answer to your question, and so until you are old enough to carry the answer, I will carry it for you." (this is a rough paraphrase and if I have made errors from the original, please forgive me).

Our desire is to "isolate", in some respects, our children in order to saturate them with God's Truth so that when they are old enough to REALLY KNOW the Truth, they can easily detect any lie and expose it. To try and mix up the lies and truth together and expect them to not be confused is foolishness. Also there are so many things to which the world (and Satan) longs to expose them that is simply too heavy for them to carry. I do not want my children to live in a bubble for all of their lives here on earth. My desire is for them to go into the world to be lights and arrows shattering the darkness of sin. But first comes the training in truth, strength and character in order for them to be able to withstand the forces of evil. Do we expect our wee ones to stand up for righteousness with the Berenstain Bears under their arms?? No, we are commanded (and to teach this to our children) to "put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God."

Childhood in our fallen world brings enough "lumps and bumps" without pushing our children over cliffs! I am giving the "female" perspective for the Megill family. Now my husband wants to give the "male" viewpoint. :-) Heeeerrre's Kevin:

-- -- -- -- -- Kevin's response -- -- -- --

I have only a couple of thoughts. First, there is research evidence that home-schooled kids are better able to interact socially in a world of adults than are their public-schooled counterparts. The question is are they learning to socialize with adults and kids in an adult environment or to socialize with kids in a kid-centered environment. Home schooled kids may not learn as much of the latter, but then they don't really need to, do they?

Second, I've often thought about the charge that we are sheltering our kids. It seems to me that we are SUPPOSED to shelter our kids -- but we are supposed to shelter them more when they are young and increasingly less as they mature. When children are born, we feed and clothe them since they can't handle those things by themselves. Later, we cook for them and purchase the clothes but expect them to feed and clothe themselves. Still later, we may expect them to help out with the cooking and the clothes-buying sometimes, and finally, they are ready to go out on their own. We shelter them from having to provide for their own basic needs while they are too young to do so.

We keep our fledgling young in the nest until they are ready to fly. (Isn't a good nest SUPPOSED to be a shelter?)

It's the same way for intellectual, emotional and spiritual areas. We could almost DEFINE parenting as the process of sheltering our kids from what they can't handle while we teach them to handle it, and then helping them in their first steps out on their own.

So, in a sense, everyone tries to shelter their kids some. The real question isn't whether home schoolers shelter their kids, but whether they shelter them too LONG or too MUCH. One reason I home school is because it gives me control over when and what I expose my children to; I can pick just the right occasion to let them tackle a new responsibility or face a new tricky decision. Part of my job as a parent is to guide them along the path of maturity until they are able to make adult decisions when facing life issues.

Another aspect of this is that there is a cost for having to grow up too quickly. Consider a really bad area of some large modern city. Suppose it is saturated with crime, drugs, gangs and violence. Now my family and I have usually lived in relatively small, crime-free farming communities. If you took my children and marooned them in that urban area, they'd be pretty overwhelmed by it all. Come to think of it, if you marooned ME in that are, I'D be pretty overwhelmed too!

Now imagine a ten-year old child who's grown up in such an environment. Suppose he's never really known a loving family; he grew up on the street. He's tough and smart, and understands the environment he's in -- he's had to be, to survive. (No sheltering here!) He is much better equipped for survival than my kids and I are. He's been toughened up and smartened up by the hard times he's endured. He knows how to handle the cruelty and despair and mindless violence.

But is he better off than my children because of it? I don't think so, because all that toughening up has a price. The emotional scars he's collected have made him tougher and better able to function in a hostile environment. But those same scars have created baggage that may take years to unlearn. If there were a choice for him, it would have been better to let him grow up naive and "sheltered" but knowing the love and security of a good home and safe community.

Growing kids into adults requires nurturing and tenderness, not just toughness. By homeschooling I have more control over my kids' environment and I can let them slowly blossom into maturity without so many of the bruises and scars we all know. I'd rather raise loving kids than cynical ones. If I can teach them a little wisdom about survival in the world out there, so much the better -- but I'll do it when I am sure they are ready for it, not sooner.

-- -- -- -- end of Kevin's response -- -- -- --

I guess we took up a lot of space, but as many of the others mentioned, this can be a volatile issue and homeschoolers have had to wrestle with it in one form or another. I just ask your friend to look to the Word of God and seek His wisdom.

In His Joy and Grace,
Kate (and Kevin)Megill

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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."

Isaiah 54:13