Missing the Mark:
"Socialization" vs. Fellowship & Ministry
by Tamara Eaton
Our definition of needed "socialization" for our children is different from societal norms because we have a different standard --God's Word. We see "socialization" as opportunities for fellowship and/or ministry and not limited to peer groups. We believe that these skills are best developed and nurtured from a place of strength and security in a loving family, reaching out to others together--sharing Jesus with a lost and dying world, edifying and encouraging our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
When parents ask us, "But what about socialization? Aren't you concerned you're neglecting to give your children a chance to do things with their peers in a traditional school environment?", we could easily ask them, "But what about your family relationships? Aren't you concerned you're neglecting to give your children enough opportunities to do things with their family since they are separated for so many hours a day?"
Even the "world" recognizes the need for children to have strong, stable families, yet somehow our culture has elevated the importance of peer relationships over family relationships--this ought not to be! Do our children value their peer's opinions and influences over their parents? In time of crisis, where do our children want to go? To the Lord and parents for wisdom or to their peers?
Children have a need of acceptance--we pray that ours find their security in being accepted and loved by the Lord and their family first, then from that secure position, reach out to others and stand strong in their Biblical convictions without being tempted to compromise in the face of persecution or during encounters with peers or adults who don't share similar standards.
We strive to develop close relationships within our family from the time our children are born, having a Christ-centered home, yielding to the fruit of the Spirit instead of the flesh, making time to do things together: praying, worshipping, learning, talking, laughing, listening, playing, loving and really enjoying the time spent with them. We believe that our close family relationships will continue through the teen years and beyond. With a house full of teens and two younger children, we are actively teaching, training, nurturing, and discipling daily--this has eternal significance thus we are driven to the Lord daily for grace, wisdom and strength!
"And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)
While some limit homeschooling to their children's early years, we feel that the high school years are an important time to homeschool. We have a better opportunity to help our children with positive influences instead of negative peer pressure. Our children naturally desire more independence at this age; we can encourage their interests by allowing them to help choose their studies and being open to their ideas. This is a time to seek God for His wisdom and help in recognizing and developing these unique gifts and callings--we don't want to impose our own ideas upon our children without considering God's plan!
Our teens have had an opportunity to do volunteer work in the community, be involved in ministry, own and operate their own businesses, teach and care for younger children, do home-ec, auto repair, household maintenance, develop good leadership and organizational skills along with creative thinking.
Above all else, in our home, we want to nurture and encourage them in their walk with the Lord. In this time of adolescence and in their search for their own "identity", we want them to find their identity in HIM! They need to have a knowledge of the Word of God and know how to apply it to their everyday lives. We don't believe that rebellion should be a part of a teenager's life. We can trust the Lord that our children come to know Him and yield themselves to Him with all their heart!
We, alone, are responsible for our children and must answer to the Lord for how we bring them up, even if we delegate some of the teaching to others. We're careful to investigate our children's friends, teachers, coaches, etc. before we allow them to get involved with outside activities. We make sure we adequately monitor their activities. Even homeschool support group activities or church activities aren't immune from negative influences at times. We protect them from harmful influences and situations.
If you're having a difficult time finding godly fellowship for your family--pray for it! The Lord cares just as much about your family's emotional needs as He does your other needs. He can be trusted to work out all the details. Often He will use that time of waiting on Him to draw you even closer, preparing you in His Word to minister more effectively to others, and encouraging you to find your all sufficiency in Him!
We must be strong in our convictions based upon God's word and resist the temptation to be apologetic or insecure when criticised by others for being "overly protective" or "depriving" our children of certain things--remembering that we must answer ultimately to the Lord, not man. This doesn't mean that we should have an unhealthy desire to control our children or cause them to have an unnatural dependence upon us--our goal is to encourage them to develop a strong faith and confidence in the Lord and His Word and discern His will for their lives and be obedient unto Him!
So will our children miss out on anything? Hopefully, they will-- drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, rebellion against God and parents, resentment over helping out at home, ungodly dependence upon peers, embarrassment over being seen with mom and dad in public--to name just a few things!
Is this "sheltering" detrimental to future ministry opportunities? Will they still be able to demonstrate compassion to those in the world with different backgrounds? We believe that the Lord can give our children insight by His Holy Spirit so that they can have discernment, understanding and wisdom in dealing with others who are "out in the world" involved in things they've never experienced.
For example, William and I have been surprised at some of the areas of ministry the Lord has opened up to us in the past--to people with drug, alcohol and emotional problems. We weren't ever involved in these areas, but the Lord chose to open the doors of ministry for us. God has given me a burden for unwed teen mothers, but I never was one myself. In the Bible we see Paul, apparently unmarried, teaching on marriage. He also had a ministry to gentiles even though, to our minds, we might have thought that the Lord would have sent him to the Jews, instead!
It seems that Timothy lived a godly, sheltered life from early childhood and I'm sure his ministry wasn't hindered because he hadn't experienced the depths of sin! John the Baptist is another good example. There are many examples in the Bible of a season of preparation before ministry--which is primarily what our children are doing right now (although they are involved in some ministry--especially with us as a family).
The most effective ministry results when one walks closely with God, hears His Voice, follows His leading, and stays in His Word. The Lord anoints this person and fully equips him with all the necessary "tools" for ministry, receiving ALL the glory!
"... I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom...For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified... And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
We need MORE Christians like this! I do believe that many of these "sheltered" homeschoolers will be used mightily in ministry. What a blessing to see our children develop in their relationships with the Lord and others and in their unique gifts and callings, becoming "vessels unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (2 Timothy 2:21) We're convinced that God has a purpose and special ministry for each of them--something that only they can fulfill. This makes our parenting and homeschooling all the more special and joyous!
God's Word is filled with principles to help us disciple our children, prepare them for ministry and develop godly relationships. Here are just a few--take time to search the scriptures with your children!
Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
1 Timothy 4:12 "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
2 Timothy 2:22 "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
Colossians 2:6-8 "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
Psalm 71:5 "For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth."
Psalm 101:2-4 "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person."
Titus 2:12-13 "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ..."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners."
2 Corinthians 6:14 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
Ephesians 4:17 "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind..."
1 Peter 1:15 "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation..."
James 4:4 "... know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
Proverbs 22:24-25 " Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
Proverbs 13:20 "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
Ephesians 5:8-11 "... walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
Colossians 3:1-2 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information, please join us on the Christian Homeschool Fellowship Message Board.
[ Please don't forget to include your email address within the body of your message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient email addresses! ]
"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."