Sheltering Our Children

The past two months’ Mom’s Corners have made me wonder if some of you may be thinking, “This sounds like too much sheltering to me. Shouldn’t we teach our children right from wrong as they grow up, and then let them sink or swim in the real world?” With two of our children already adults (22 and 19), we have had some first-hand experience with this concept of building a strong relationship with Jesus in our children and an ability to stand alone against what they will face in the world.

Our role as parents has moved into one of counsel for our adult children, rather than directives we would give to younger children. This role is a sweet one, and we have delighted in it. This might not be the case if we had lost the hearts of our children through their teen years, which is what I addressed in those last two Mom’s Corners.

How many of you have known a godly man who has fallen into immorality of some kind, perhaps adultery? It happens to pastors, deacons, elders, Sunday School teachers, even homeschooling dads. Do you think these men purposed to be unfaithful to their wives? I seriously doubt it! However, they did not heed the warning that Scripture gives us about our human, sinful condition and the need to put safeguards around ourselves. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee also youthful lusts. . .,” and 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” If adults are susceptible to falling into immorality, aren’t our young people even more at risk with their immaturity and innocence? Even Solomon, the wisest man in the world, succumbed to the lust of the flesh. David, the man after God’s own heart, fell into the sin of adultery.

Shouldn’t we offer our teens safeguards to help them walk the righteous path they desire? We feel the need to give boundaries that would protect them as much as possible. Not only do we want our children to be salt and light in the world, but we also want them to be holy and pure–in the world, but not of the world. While our sons are strong in their Christian faith, they are still subject to their sin nature, as are we. Therefore, we counsel our sons not to seek employment where they would be in constant, daily contact with things such as worldly music or worldly young people.

Unfortunately, the girls today are very aggressive, and while we discuss with our sons the need to guard themselves, we would not want them placed daily in the path of temptation. We do not see this as causing them to be dependent upon us. They are definitely not. We do see it as teaching them how to make wise decisions.

One of our sons has been working for large corporations in their computer service departments since he was eighteen. Here, he is in an environment where he can share his testimony when it is appropriate. However, the age group he works with is varied, not predominantly young people. Our other son is working with his dad in our business. He is often out in the world going into businesses to give computer software tutoring. He has regular contacts in the world, but they are on a professional level. As these continue, he, too, has opportunity to share his testimony.

Despite the better working environment of the corporate world, my husband has been happy to leave it, with its immodesty of dress, aggressiveness in women, and the propensity toward doing whatever is deemed necessary to get ahead. Here again, we have warned our sons of the dangers they are facing and strongly encouraged them to put “hedges of protection” around themselves.

Our twenty-two-year-old son volunteers one night a week at the City Union Mission in downtown Kansas City. In addition to being exposed to secular thinking in his work place, he is exposed to the real world at the mission. He is ready for this challenge. He has a one-on-one Bible study with one of the residents. We have encouraged him in this ministry, but have cautioned against such things as listening to details of immoral, or evil, practices.

Another example of our philosophy of “protectionism” involves not only our older children but also Steve. Steve chooses to not have lunch alone with another woman, or ride alone in a car with one, even when business related. One might ask if this means he is not strong in his faith or not independent. Of course not! It does mean that he is being wise in protecting himself from situations that have led other Christian men down a path that ends in sin, and sometimes loss of their family. My husband’s standard in this area has caused inconvenience to our family at times, and has certainly given him opportunities to share, but I am pleased to have a husband who will make such choices for his family.

As far as our daughters go, I wonder how many of us developed independent spirits during our college or working days. Has this made it more difficult for us to submit to our husbands in the meek and quiet way we would like? A family shared with us their concerns for their daughter after she began working. They said, “One of our goals for our daughter is for her to have a submissive spirit to a future husband, if she marries, but we are also training her towards an independent spirit.” They did ask her to stop working, sharing their heart’s concerns, and she was willing.

Does this mean we keep our daughters in our house and never let them out? No, but it does mean we determine the learning, working, and ministry opportunities that will best help them toward their goals. One of our goals for all of our daughters is that they would remain holy and pure. When I hear worldly teens, and even some Christian teens, talk these days, I am very saddened by the crudeness and impurity of their conversation. I would hate to have my daughter in an environment where she was constantly exposed to that.

This may not be the way you decide to direct your teen or adult children, but it will certainly give you and your husband a great discussion topic! We do not teach our children God’s Word, and then put them in the world to sink or swim. We protect them through their teen years of great vulnerability, not wanting to put them to a “test” they might easily fail and regret the rest of their lives. We counsel them as adults to be “wise as serpents,” setting safeguards around themselves, as much as possible, to keep them from temptations that could result in moral failure.

We do not believe what we are doing with our children constitutes isolationism or creates dependence on us, but rather encourages them to exercise caution in the environment they place themselves in on a daily basis. I am happy when my husband makes these same choices for himself, or for me, as well as when my children do.