Over the years I have had individuals suggest that I shelter my kids. It’s usually a passive comment, often referenced to the fact we homeschool, and always presented in a negative tone.
The occasions I’ve been thought to shelter my children have been over various parenting decisions. For example, our children do not really participate in sleepovers and they have not had smartphones as young teens. We are also present and involved in their activities. We often volunteer as chaperones for clubs or events they attend.
(This post contains some affiliate links. See my disclosure.)
A quick online search of “shelter a child” is defined as, “A person raised by strict parents who refuse to expose their children to the real world.”
As I consider this definition, an account from The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind.
It tells of a time Corrie was seated in a train compartment with her father. She asked him what sexsin was. Her father thought a moment, then lifted his traveling case and put it on the floor. He asked Corrie if she would carry it off the train. She attempted to lift it but told him it was too heavy for her. It was filled with watches and parts he had purchased that morning.
Corrie’s father told her he would be a poor father if he asked his little girl to carry such a load. He went on to explain that knowledge is similar. Some knowledge is too heavy for children until they are older and can bear it. Until that time she must trust him to carry it for her.
I have seen the world around me. I do not agree with all of what our culture deems appropriate for children. There is some knowledge my kids must trust me to carry for them.
The word shelter, as a verb, is defined as, “To protect someone from danger or bad weather. To provide shelter for someone.”
Parents have a responsibility to carry the knowledge that is too heavy for children. The culture should not define what is acceptable. Every child is different and unique. A loving and involved parent knows the weight of knowledge their child can and cannot carry.
As we preserve the innocence of our young children and impart knowledge with maturity, we will witness the development of strong individuals. Kids that sometimes step back from the packs of same-aged children. When they choose their own path, they will be labeled as unsocialized. When the parent does not push them to join what is culturally normal, they will be labeled as sheltered.
I confess I have sheltered my children over the years. I have protected them from dangers that threatened to damage their innocence. I have carried heavy loads of knowledge until they have grown strong enough to carry it themselves. I will continue to shelter my kids when necessary. If I ask them carry too heavy a load, I would indeed be a poor parent.