Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Should Children Be Sheltered?

A common criticism of home schooled children, and sometimes Christian schooled children, is that they are too sheltered - they do not know enough about the world around them.  When they get out from under their parent's roof, they are more likely to fall prey to the temptations of alcohol, drugs, and sex because they were sheltered from the world rather than exposed to it.  Since these temptations are new to them, they are more likely to give into the temptations.  I think that such thinking is wrong and unbibilical.

In Romans 16:19, Paul expresses one of his goals for the Believers.  He wants them to be "wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil."  Our children will not be innocent as to what is evil if we expose them evil.  I have heard of Christian parents who encourage their children to drink alcohol, even when they are underage, so they can learn how to handle it.  Some parents purposefully expose their children to immoral music videos so they will know what is out there.  They allow their children to be exposed to immoral lifestyles on t.v., music, magazines, and books because everyone else is doing it.  Such exposure is contradictory to Romans 16:19 and keeping children innocent.  Instead of exposing children to such evil, a parent's duty is to protect them from such evil.

This protection aligns with Philippians 4:8, where we are instructed to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise.  We should be replacing evil influences with godly influences as described in Philippians 4:8.  By doing so, you are protecting your child's innocence from evil.  At the same time, focusing on the good described in Philippians 4:8 helps satisfy the first part of Romans 16:19, "be wise as to what is good."  We should fill ourselves up with things that are good and avoid evil.  That is the Biblical command.

Some claim that being innocent as to what is evil results in being naive.  This is not necessarily true.  Paul even notes, in verse 18, that false teachers deceive those who are naive.  You can prevent your children from being naive by warning them of the dangers of this world and explaining how Satan is like a roaring lion seeking to devour them.  In Romans 16, the people would not be deceived if they had a strong foundation in truth.  A good tactic is to warn against sin, but overload children with goodness.

I do not apologize for "sheltering" my children.  They are better off by not being exposed to all of the evil in this world.  Instead, we have emphasized the good and try to keep then immersed in goodness.  At the same time, we have taught them about evil, warned them about sin, and discuss temptation.  Then we return to filing their lives with goodness.  If their lives are filled with goodness, then, hopefully, there is little room left for sin.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Celebrating Children We Never Met

We expected to celebrated February 20th, but not in this way.  We expected our daughter Julia to be born on February 20. 2010.  Instead, we lost her before she was born.  We never got to meet her, hold her, hug her, or kiss her.  We were devastated by the loss, just as we were when we lost three prior babies. 

Continuing life after the miscarriages has been difficult.  We experienced great sorrow over losing the children.  However, life goes on.  We cannot allow our grief to paralyze us from living life and doing what God wants.  On the other hand, continuing to live life makes it seem like we have forgotten these unborn children.  The challenge is figuring out how to live an abundant life that God provides without forgetting these children.

To meet this challenge we created our own holiday, Family Day, which is celebrated every February 20th.  It is a day to remember the four children we never held, to celebrate the brief life they had with us,  and to look forward to seeing them in heaven.  We also celebrate the four children God has allowed us to raise, along with the three foster children He placed with us.  We try to make the day special for our children, although it differs every year.  This year, the kids did not have school because it is President's Day.  My wife made a special breakfast of a baked French toast with cream cheese.  She also did a special photo project with the kids.  We ate a favorite meal of pulled pork sandwiches.  I gave small gifts to everyone, after all this is a celebration.  Alyson made special cupcakes that look like baby ducks - seriously, they looked like baby ducks.  After dessert, Matthew played the piano and played a song that he wrote about missing Julia.  In Matthew's words, "This is a fun day."

Family Day helps us remember the lives of these four children.  This way, we do not forget about them.  But, it also helps us to celebrate our children without being stuck in despair.