[by Mandy Mom, as posted in June Edition of Heart of the Matter Magazine for Homeschoolers]
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:1-3
I believe in protecting my children from outside influences in their youth. However, it’s not enough to just protect them, but I also need to be teaching them the Word. As I keep them close to me throughout their childhood, I will have many opportunities to do this, which is why it is so important that God is first in my life. How can I ever expect them to put God first, if I do not live and walk that way myself?
God has told me that I need to pay more attention to what my children watch. I really started picking apart the shows they were watching. I came to realize the Disney Channel isn’t as innocent as I had believed.
It is no wonder we raise little diva girls full of drama and attitude. They’re only mimicking what they see on television! It’s no wonder we’re raising boys who bully, lie, cheat, and rebel! They’ve learned much of this from their favorite shows.
It’s a good idea to write out your values and remove the things from your home that do not encourage those values. I know, it’s easier said than done. It will mean you will have to sacrifice some of your favorite shows, movies, and games, but if it’s not okay for your children to watch and do, in many cases, it’s probably not acceptable for you either.
As parents, we know we need to unite under discipline and authority. It’s not helpful when one parent undermines the other’s authority. This is common sense. What we often fail to see is that these television shows, movies, and books our children are looking at are teaching our little ones lessons that contradict the values and morals we long to instill in them. They are undermining our authority. By allowing our children to watch and read such things, we are sending them mixed messages.
In the same way, we also need to limit the time our children spend with people who may influence them to do things that are unacceptable. People will tell us we are sheltering our children far too much, but I believe that it is better to shelter them now while we build them in the Lord so, when they are older, they are able to stand strong in Christ through temptations and trials. In a manner of speaking, we are building a foundation for our children, and outside influences can weaken it or cause it to crumble.
Because we homeschool, we are often asked questions about socialization. Honestly, I hate these questions. It’s ridiculous, really. We may shelter and protect our children, but we certainly haven’t hindered them from being “socialized”. If anything, by limiting outside influences, we improve their socialization. They learn how to treat people with respect because they are not constantly around rude, disrespectful children and adults who only consider themselves and walk around with a “Me-me-me” attitude. I’ve been told my children are missing out on a lot. Let me tell you, I agree. They are missing out on a lot of inappropriate talk and actions. They’re missing out on bullies who push them around and brats who tell them they’re ugly, stupid, and not good enough. They’re missing out on textbook teachings which have made theories seem like fact and have excluded Christ (or, in the case of some Christian schools, they’ve left out the truth of Christ). Gee, hmm. Doesn’t sound like they’re really missing out on anything of godly substance by staying home with me!
Somehow, somewhere, we have been duped into believing that in order to have well-rounded children, we need to expose them to the world. We need to teach them to be “open-minded.” I am guilty of being deceived here as well. I have read and tried to follow the instruction of many a child-rearing book. I found myself (and my children) frustrated and overwhelmed. What we need to remember is God has given us authority over our children and has instructed us to raise them up in his Word. His Word is our guide book. Sometimes people say, “I wish babies came with an instruction manual.” Well, I know where you can get one. It’s called the bible, and you can find it wherever books are sold. The Dollar Tree sells them for, you got it, a buck!
We live in a world that says, “There is no absolute truth,” and, “Truth is what you want it to be.” As Christians, Christ is Truth and Christ is the Word, so we can put our faith in the Word. We can live by the Word, which means we can live in Truth. It does exist, and it’s Christ. We don’t need to teach our children to be open-minded to the world. We need to teach our children to be open to the WORD.
Now, I realize it may not be possible for everyone to homeschool their children. I understand that. However, if God has pricked your heart in this direction, you must obey. Sure, you may feel ill-equipped. You may feel it’s an impossible task, especially if you work outside the home. You may feel that you just can’t handle being around your children all day, every day. God makes no mistakes, and if he has prompted you to bring your children home from school and keep them there, then it is in their best interest (and yours as well) to listen and obey. A feeling of panic and fear is natural for many. There are times when I have said, “Dear Lord! You’ve given me more than I can handle!” And, the truth is, he has. You may have heard the saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” That’s a lie. God will give you more than you can handle. He does this so you will depend on him and not yourself. Rest assured, God will give you the tools to handle what he has asked you to do. Not only will he give you the tools, but he’ll also give you the blessing. However, he doesn’t hand us the blessing first. He asks for obedience, and when we take the first step, he blesses our lives in more ways than we can imagine.
As a “discipleship schooler,” or what some may call an “unschooler,” I use mentoring as my number one way of teaching. It saddens me to see parents who fail to connect with their children. They don’t fellowship with their kiddos. They keep them at arm’s length, instead of allowing their munchkins to get involved in their lives.
We need to really involve our children in our lives, but we also need be involved in our children’s lives. When I was in junior high and attending a public school, I came home one day and found myself arguing with my mother. She was frustrated over something I had posted on the internet. She said, “This isn’t you! Why would you write that?” I scowled at her and replied, “You don’t know me at all!”
Truth is, as much as she wanted to be involved in my life, as close as she longed for us to be, I was away from her for 8-10 hours a day, five days a week. During that time, I fellowshipped with people who did not have the same values as my family did. They encouraged me to do things that were against my parents’ beliefs and wishes. I had spent about 50 hours a week with people who encouraged my sinful flesh. Combined with the 60 hours I spent sleeping per week and the 15-20 hours I spent talking to friends on the phone or online, this left around 40 or fewer hours for my parents, and, well, you know I wasn’t spending every single minute I was home (and not talking to my friends) by my parents’ side. I was probably off brooding in my room, writing angry poetry, and listening to angry music. (Yes, I was that child.) When it came right down to it, I was spending more time under the influence of those who did not encourage me in the Lord. They became more important to me than my parents. After all, I spent far less time with those two people who conceived and birthed me than those who prodded me to rebel!
The year my mom took me out of public schools, I changed. I stopped being so angry. I finally picked a few friends that encouraged me in Christ. That’s not to say I didn’t make wrong choices or still have a few bad apple buddies, but I was around my parents more and bad influences less. I began to know them better, and they got to know me better. Our communication improved. I only wish this would have happened sooner!
When we send our children off to school, we lose them in a way. Again, I understand that some people may not have a choice. I get that, I do. I ache for those people, because they are truly missing out on an amazing experience, one that will strengthen not just our children, but the family as a whole.
Schools aren’t there to encourage your children to find their identity in Christ. Schools don’t care about your children’s spiritual well-being. Can you imagine what life would be like if your children were nurtured in the Spirit and were encouraged to be everything God desired them to be? Can you imagine the effect that would have on your family? Can you imagine the impact that would have on the world? All for the glory of God!
If we really, really stopped to think about it, it would blow our face off!
My ultimate goal is not to produce intelligent children. Do I want them to be smart? Sure! Yes! Definitely! Still, my ultimate goal is to produce children who are on fire for Christ, who lean on Him, and long to be useful to His kingdom - whatever that might mean and wherever that might take them. I trust, in that journey, God will fill them with all the natural and spiritual knowledge they need to know.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments where I panic and wonder how I am going to teach them all of the things they are “supposed” to know. I do, more than I want to admit! Yet, deep down inside, God has given me a promise to cling to. He has promised he will protect and guide my children if I follow him in obedience. He has given me a vision of my children, and, when I feel discouraged, I cling tightly to those things he has shown me.
Mandy is a former homeschooling student who has set out to homeschool her three young munchkins in an unschooling meets discipleship method. In her column “Delightfully Discipled”, she gives a glimpse into the curious minds of her children as they follow their natural instincts to explore the heights and depths of knowledge and and are led though Godly discipleship. She blogs at MandyMom.com and Noggin News.