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How do we protect our kids but not shield them from reality?

here is a myth about homeschoolers that has been circulating for decades. It’s this: because we don’t choose to send our kids to school, we are somehow overprotective and our kids will not be ready for the harsh realities of this cold, lost world. The truth is that most homeschoolers are actually more prepared, not less, and there is a good reason for that.

When parents decide to home educate their children, many times it is to protect their kids from things the parents know they simply are not ready for. The God-given nature of loving parents is to protect their kids, and that’s because kids need protection.

Throughout Scripture, we read the importance of protecting the vulnerable and needy. Who is more vulnerable than children? We are encouraged to care for the fatherless. Why? Because they have no father to naturally protect them.

It’s clear that protection is part of our God-given role as parents.

The problem comes when we allow the culture to inform our perspective instead of God’s Word and principles.

God says children need protection.

The culture says we should expose children to everything as soon as possible. Take one look around, and you can see how well that’s working out!

Although overprotection might be possible, I think the much bigger challenge is protecting our children enough.

Children need a childhood, one that feels safe and secure so they can get to the business of growing and developing healthy minds, bodies, and spirits. They need to experience plenty of beauty, goodness, and innocence which will help them understand more of who God is.

In my experience raising our eight kids, I found that the harsh reality of living in a sinful world seemed to inevitably reach out and touch us even as I was a diligent gatekeeper. My kids knew from a very young age that I was willing to talk to them about anything that they were interested in or had questions about so they felt safe discussing any topic. Then, as they moved into their teen years, it was natural for them to continue to do this because that healthy relationship had been established.

In those moments, I got to decide how to ask good questions to help them think, and explain things to my kids from a biblical worldview in a way that I felt was appropriate for that particular child, whatever their age.

Allowing our kids to see the world for what it really is needs to be a slow, prayerful process, much like starting a seed in a greenhouse.

The environment is controlled, and the gardener is attentive as she nurtures the little seed along. The seed sprouts, then breaks through the soil and continues to grow, but it’s not yet ready to be exposed to the elements because it is still fragile in many ways.

Eventually, the seed becomes a sturdy plant and can handle more and more time in the elements but needs some protection from extreme weather.

Finally, the plant is strong and hearty and ready to be planted outside in the garden permanently where it thrives and produces a great harvest. Why? Because it was carefully tended through the early stages.

That, moms, is a beautiful example of how to protect our kids in a way that best prepares them for life!
“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.”
—Proverbs 14:26 (ESV)