Tuesday, August 08, 2006


After this I'm taking a bit of a blogging break - kids start school this week and things are getting hectic!

My mind has been literally swirling after I read a couple of posts this week on sheltering our kids.

Mary DeMuth of Pioneer Parenting started things off by citing the following statistic:

70% of all Christian kids stray from the faith when they hit college.
She wonders if it is related to what she refers to as "Fishbowl Parenting."

I've been stirred by an analogy about church that seems to fit with my current thoughts about parenting. I'm ruminating on what I call the "cult of protectionism" in our parenting. It seems it has become the job of every "perfect" parent to protect their children from every single evil thing in the world. Granted, it is our job to provide a safe home for our children. We should be wary of strangers. We should teach our children how to navigate this world. Of course. But sometimes I see parents parenting solely out of fear. They keep their children away from negative influences their entire lives, including their teenage years, because they're afraid their kids will be unduly influenced.

She then asks the following questions:

Are we sheltering our kids too much? Are they floundering later in life because we have not given them the chance to exercise their wings of faith while they are still at home?

Some interesting comments followed. Ann V. of Holy Experience, whose thoughtful perspective on all things spiritual always inspires me, left a link to A Crisis in Homeschooling.

This piece, written by a homeschooling dad, is probably the most vulnerably honest look into Christian parenting that I've read in a long time. Here's a sample:
"In the last five years I have heard countless reports of highly sheltered homeschool children who grew up and abandoned their parents’ values. Some of these children were never allowed out of their parents’ sight and were not permitted to be in any kind of group setting, even with other “like-minded” kids, yet they still managed to develop an appetite for the world’s pleasures.

While I’ve seen sheltered children grow up and turn away from their parents’standards, conversely, I’ve known some Christian young people who went to public school, watched TV, attended youth groups, and dated, yet they walk in purity, have respectful, loving relationships with their parents, and now enjoy good marriages. Their parents broke the all the “rules of sheltering,” yet these kids grew up close to their families and resilient in their walks with Christ. Super-strict sheltering was obviously not the ultimate answer for them."

He goes on to list six reasons Christian families may lose their kids while supposedly trying to protect them. Although he's talking to homeschoolers, these points are relevant for every Christian parent to consider.

I can look at this list and see vividly where I've fallen into each and every one to some degree in the course of my short thirteen years of parenting:

1. Self-centered dreams
2. Family as an idol
3. Emphasis on outward form
4. Tendency to judge
5. Overdependence on authority and control
6. Over-reliance on sheltering

Now don't you just want to go read it yourself?

The bottom line: we can't parent by a formula. Yes, we need to protect our kids - guarding them as our most precious treasure. But that alone obviously does not guarantee "success." There may just be more than one way to raise kids and still have them turn out to be loving adults who are strong in their faith. We need to be willing to learn from and to encourage those whose methods may differ from our own, but whose goals are the same.

And of course, my soapbox:

Loving relationships are so much more important than doing everything perfectly, mostly because parenting (like the Christian life) is one of those jobs that is impossible to do perfectly. We need to be aiming always for the hearts of our children.

Okay - so now I'm off to my blogging break! When I come back in a few days, I'd like to talk more about this.

Until then, happy reading!


Lori said...

Something to chew on. Thanks for posting it. Enjoy your "break".

Wendy said...

Thanks Katherine. This is a timely post for me. I homeschool and we have just been discussing different things that we want the kids to be involved in, outside of the house. I will read more on this at the links you suggested. I look forward to read more of your thoughts as well. Have a great break.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I've been thinking about that ever since I read that article too. I still have some pondering to do. I liked the 6 points that you shared. I am going to think some more and craft my own post on this.

Shawna said...

This is a common discussion between my husband and me. I am admittedly overprotective. He believes that to a certain extent they need to learn from their own experience. We are trying to meet in the middle. The thing is, when raising children, sometimes we don't find out where we have messed up until it's too late. That is why it is so important to have that open communication with them. I would say have a wonderful blogging break, but I know you're going to be busy with back-to- school. Us, too. Best wishes, then!

Stephanie said...

This ties in just right with a book that I am getting ready to read about training your children to be ambassadors for Christ ... living in the world yet being representatives of your "home country". Something my husband and I repeatedly discuss as we are anticipating homeschooling at least through elementary and possibly junior high, Lord willing, how to train our girls in the things of God, without them fearing the world or being lured by it. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Great post - once again!

A HIGHLY recomended book: 'Sheperding Your Child's Heart' by Tedd Tripp. Very biblical. Changed my view of parenting. It directly addresses several items on that list.


Tammy M. said...

Great Post!
As much as I would like to fishbowl parent, I can see where it has holes in the structure. If I, as a parent, create an illusion of goodness for my kids as they grow up, that illusion is just that, an illusion. It is hard to let our kids see the ugliness of the world around us, but this is the time for them to learn what the correct response is to that ugliness, not just put our head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist. I have 2 relatives about my same age, they were raised within a godly home, parents and grandparents who loved the Lord, and all the people He created. Many times those people used harsh language, they were not what would be called upstanding citizens, my 2 relatives saw sin, they saw what sin did to people, they chose to live holy lives and live for the Lord. They can do street ministry with people who do not look like them. They are comfortable with all walks of life. The key is to me and how I will apply that to my life, is to be involved in my kids lives. Pray for discernment, help them know what the bible says about sin, equip them, and pray again, most importantly to love all people with the love of the Lord. God please help me.

Paulette said...

Hello I love visiting your site. You have a beautiful looking family. I enjoyed your post today, very educational. Kepp up the good work.

Anonymous said...

We just discussed this during our walk yesterday. We have friends who grew up in " Christian fishbowls" and who now have walked away from the Lord. From the start we have been careful of things some think overprotective (like foods, our kids have massive food allergies and it has been a real struggle, until the Lord providided enzymes, Praise the Lord for enzymes!). In other things we have taught our children gradually what is safe and what is not. I have no problem letting my kids visit their less than Christian grandparents house because we know that if something is unsuitable for them, they will avoid it because they hve been taught to look to the Lord and his teachings for the truth. They still are not allowed to watch most Disney or Spongebob but on the flipside I know that if they do, they have the Lord guarding their hearts and I can trust Him to help them make wise decisions.

Kristina at Learn2Luv2Run said...

I just wanted to tell you to visit this post to get a prayer button for Emma Grace at Midlife Moments or Amy at Wilhoite Prayer Blog, or Addison at In the Midst of It. If you haven't heard of any of them but any of their stories touch your heart, and you are going to pray for them then be sure to get a "button" for them!
I am hoping to help them out by not only supporting them in prayers but spreading the word of their prayer needs!

Tammy M. said...

Katherine -
I am still thinking about this article. I wanted to let you know I linked to it from my blog.
Thanks again for the post.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog through WFMW, and I love it! I love the topics you bring up and I love the wisdom you bring. As a mom to two young boys, I appreciate you sharing what has worked for you in the past, and being open to areas you still struggle with! Thank you for being so honest.

Jessica said...

Wow... interesting topic. I struggle with this... I think our motto is to let the kids see the good, the bad, and the ugly and to talk about it openly. One of my good friends is gay... my husband doesn;t like that the kids know but I would rather them know and talk about our beliefs than walk around wondering.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know what exactly "stray" means....sinning once "in a big way" , forsaking God completely, what?
ON the approach of overprotective parenting, I think that it is the difference between trying not to sin, and trying to produce the fruit of the Spirit. If you are just trying not to sin, you will be graceless, fearful, in constant trepidation. If you are aiming for love, joy, peace, etc., of course, you will fall short but you will achive so much more than "not messing up". Running to win, instead of not to trip, for example! Of course, it is as much of a struggle to give them grace, as it is to accept it for myself!
Got your link from Tammy's blog!

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

*Excellent* post, Katherine, as are the comments.

And my standing ovation for your parent's example.

Their testimony (and yours) ministers to me.

The Lord be with you,
Ann V.

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

(And I printed out that Reb Bradley article to read over, and over, and over again, Katherine...
Your thoughts reflect his also...
*Thank you*)
Ann V.

Antique Mommy said...

I came today by way of Shannon over at Rocks In My Dryer and I'm so glad I did. These issues that you raise are things we talk and worry about all the time even though our little guy is only two and a half. I definitely think you can over protect your kid when what we need to do is to prepare them to live in the world such that it is.

Melanie @ This Ain't New York said...

Found your post through Shannon. This is a great, thought provoking subject.
I grew up in a Christian home, surrounded by church, and I went to public school. The strange thing is that the major bad influences in my teen years were from my "church" friends. The crowd I was following was at church. I don't know what when wrong and where. For me, public school was mainly lacking in academics. I can see now how much I missed.
As for our own child, we choose private school. Not because we are trying to shelter, but because we have seen a trend in the public schools that we do not like. One that leans towards brainwashing (not just in Christian values, but other subjects as well.) I think a kid can be brainwashed anywhere-at public school, homeschool, or private. So, we are trying to be careful which private school she attends. I have visited some pretty legalistic private schools which claim academic excellence. Even so, that was not for us. We do talk to our daughter about things of the world. She is allowed to watch tv, movies that are appropriate. And when we see or hear something that is wrong, we point it out to her and we talk about it.
We have also talked to her about not being judgemental and looking down on others. One example is smoking- she would see someone smoke and actually get angry! This really upset me. I told her that being mad at the person was wrong, that she didn't understand truly how someone could even want to quit but it is soooo hard. What she should do is love them and pray for them. Everyone on this earth makes mistakes. So far, this tactic has helped in other areas as well. You can't pray for someone IN LOVE, and be judgemental and self-righteous at the same time.
Sorry I took up so much space! :>))

jipmeister said...

I just found your blog. This is a very interesting post. I know that I have struggled with this with my children as well, particularly my oldest daughter. I've called it parenting out of the paranoia of my past. I see so much of myself in her and want so desperately to keep her from making any of the choices I made at her age. For me too I think it's a "control freak" issue.
Maybe ultimately the bottom line is a lack of trust or faith in God in this area.
Hard questions, tough issues you are raising here...but necessary.

Laura at By the Bushel said...

What a great post. Found you at Ann V's blog. (I'm on the fence about a 1 day program. Trying to 'sort out' my options,my goals.) This post helped me so much. Whatever the 'answer' is for our approach. Excellent post. Thanks for taking the time to post/blog.