Tag Archives: sheltering children

Protectionism or Isolationism?

Do you ever wonder whether it is right to shelter your children from worldly influences such as the TV or playing unsupervised with neighborhood children? Do you struggle with feeling like you are becoming an isolationist? Recently we had a mom ask us some questions along these lines.

“I wonder sometimes if I am doing the right thing by sheltering my children as much as I am. I have a burning desire also to tell others about Jesus! I want to minister—even if in just some small way. I don’t feel like I’m doing that by keeping us at home and sheltered from the rest of the world. I feel that I have really begun to isolate my children from everything and wonder if this is the right thing to do . . . I wonder if there isn’t more we could be doing.” Lisa

This mom asks several excellent questions—ones that are important for us to answer. What a condemnation on us as a group of Christian homeschoolers if we are secluded in our homes with no outreach for our Lord Jesus!

I would not term what we do with our children as isolationism but rather protectionism. God requires us to protect our children from ungodly influences. Scripture is overwhelmingly full of directives to us, as parents teaching our children and as Christians in general, to live holy lives.

Matthew 18:6-7: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

Does this mean we live in isolation? Absolutely not! Instead, we minister as a family. For Steve and I, this means we are around our children constantly, serving the Lord Jesus with them and protecting them at the same time. There are so many ways the Lord has given us to minister, serve, and evangelize as a family through the years. I will share a couple of current ones with you.

Steve and the boys minister monthly at the Kansas City men’s homeless shelter. Steve is with his boys (from age 7 to 25) and able to oversee their conversations, discuss the consequences of sin in these men’s lives, and develop a love in his boys’ hearts for others who are very different from us. Every month, in addition to the personal conversation and evangelism Steve and the boys engage in, one of the oldest will preach. Our sons consider their time at City Union Mission a highlight of their month.

Two Saturdays a month, Steve and the children have a church service at the local county infirmary, a low-income nursing home. They have the opportunity to love the elderly residents, talk to them, sing with them, and share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. Joseph, our thirteen-year-old son, preached at the infirmary the last time they were there. He hasn’t had a call from the Lord to be a preacher, but we want all of our children to be able “. . . to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

I would encourage us that the questions we are considering are best answered by being “in the world” (John 17:11) but “not of the world” (John 17:14). We are not isolating our children. We are protecting them and also ministering with them to the lost world.

Let me share another story with you by way of illustration. The UPS man stops by our house every afternoon. Once when there was a substitute for a couple of days, the children asked where the regular driver was.

“You mean Caveman?” the substitute asked. The children’s eyes became really big as they realized that the UPS drivers had nicknamed our driver “Caveman.” That became our children’s name for him as well until we had a discussion one day.

We talked with the children about whether “Caveman” was a respectful name for our UPS driver even if they didn’t actually call him that when they talked to him. They agreed it wasn’t and determined to find out his real name.

Not many days after that they came to me and delightedly announced, “His name is Mr. Smith. His name is Mr. Smith.”

“Whose name is Mr. Smith?” came from my confused mind, which had already forgotten the earlier day’s discussion.

“The UPS man!”

Can you imagine what Mr. Smith thinks when he is greeted by five lively children each afternoon shouting, “Hello, Mr. Smith! Hi, Mr. Smith. How are you, Mr. Smith?” Remember, Mr. Smith’s coworkers call him Caveman.

Recently, eleven-year-old John gave Mr. Smith a gospel tract. A couple of days later John asked Mr. Smith if he had read the tract. “Oh, yeah!” he replied. “It was good. I even showed it to the other guys at the terminal when I got back.”

“Would you read another one?” John asked.

“Sure,” answered Mr. Smith.

This recent example, I believe, will show you that a protectionist lifestyle doesn’t preclude our children from sharing Jesus with others. However, they are doing it in an environment where their own hearts are being as carefully guarded as possible.

Scripture tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). So we know that protecting our children will not keep them from being sinful. However, we also know that temptations to sin are greater when a child has been exposed to sin.

I would encourage each of us, with our husbands, to begin praying about what ministry the Lord would have us do as a family. Consider a nursing home, the homeless shelter, a neighborhood Bible study, an outreach to a widow in your neighborhood, or having neighbors in for dinner—that’s just a start! When you have the Lord’s direction, begin to serve. You will have no concern about isolationism, but rather you will experience outreach within the protected environment of family ministry.

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.