Let’s face it. Raising kids in today’s world is unlike any other time has ever been. The things kids are exposed to at an early age is mind blowing. It can certainly scare the living day lights out of you if you think about it long enough!
I get asked a lot of questions from different people about what it’s like raising a teenager, and how we decide how much we protect our kids from. The question always seems to be “can you shelter a child too much?”. Sometimes, I think we get all messed up with our wording. What does shelter mean? To protect. What is the opposite of protect? To endanger. Hm. So I started thinking about how much I wanted to endanger my children. Well, to be honest, I don’t want to endanger my children at all. One of my jobs, and something that I love doing, is to protect and shelter my kids. I have no doubt that people judge me because I “shelter” my kids too much. But I don’t think they understand my point of view. I think the confusion comes when people are getting their terms and their actions all confused with reality. Don’t use shelter as a bad word. It’s not a bad word. It is not a bad thing when people want to protect their children. The viewpoint everyone around me is throwing at me, is that we are harming our kids if we shelter them. Weird, right? Kind of backwards too.
Here’s my view point, and how I am choosing to raise my kids.
There is one truth. Period. Whether you believe that or not, it doesn’t even effect what actual truth is. But for the point of this post, I am basing everything on the only thing that doesn’t change-
So then. Here are a few things that we have decided about how much to shelter or not shelter our kids.
1. Do not be ignorant.
I can not believe the number of parents who have no clue what their kids are watching on tv, netflix, their computers or their devices. Please. Do not be ignorant. That is the worst thing you can do. Do your kids have instagram? See who they are following. That is a wake up call, dudes. Do they have an iPhone? Don’t let them sleep with it in their rooms. My boys keep their devices in out in the hall when they go to bed. Do not let them have tv or computer access in their bedrooms. Easy. I have talked to my kids about this a lot. I am teaching my kids the importance of not putting yourself in a situation that could potentially be too hard to handle. This is going to help them out later in life as well.
2. Do have open communication.
Always. I have talked about this a million times (you can search that word to left of this post to find other writings about it.) but I can’t stress it enough. Thoughts, feelings and questions are not bad in and of themselves. They need to be talked about. I have no problem at all talking to my kids about what they are thinking and feeling. (Their future wives will thank me! Ha!) You can laugh, or blush, but when there is a commercial on tv, or someone makes a crude joke or whatever, I will bring it up and talk about it. How did it make them feel? Nothing has to be awkward. What are they going to do with that feeling? What does God say about that? Because, at the end of the day, my kids answer to God, not to me. I don’t want them obeying and respecting me to my face and blowing off everything I say when I’m not around. Remind them that they are ultimately responsible to God.
3. Do talk about current events.
I love talking about things that are going on in the world, and asking how they think things should be handled! What does God say about gay marriage? What does God say about sex outside of marriage? What does God say about abortion? You have to know your individual child and know the topics they can handle, but having normal conversations about real life is so important. Do you see how important it is to be basing it on the Bible? My feelings about a topic could change depending on the day. God is the creator, and He never changes. Tell them to say what they feel. Talk about why they feel that way, and what might be affecting their feelings. I think it’s important for them to know what is happening in the world.
4. Do not give rules without reasons.
Clearly there are times, especially when your kids are little, when you are going to give rules that they don’t understand. They don’t always need to know every reason for every thing. However. Our job as a parent is to be raising them to leave. (as sad as that sounds!) We are preparing them to make decisions on their own. The way they are going to learn to make wise choices on their own is by giving them rules we have set up, and telling them how we came up with them. We aren’t on any kind of power trip here. We just want to raise our children to be wise. Our kids know why we decide to go to church every Sunday, and it’s not because we said so, suckers! Our kids know why we believe you should tithe ten percent of your earnings, why you should stay pure until you get married, why you should be kind even when people aren’t kind back. They know the rules, they know the reasons. They know the reward of obedience.
5. Do practice what you preach.
I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to teach your kids to do things and then do the opposite. We don’t teach our kids that they can’t get drunk but we can. No. We can’t get drunk either. We don’t teach our kids that they can’t cuss someone out, but we can. No. We can’t cuss someone out either. We don’t teach our kids to read their Bibles every day, but we don’t have to. Yes.We.Do. It has to be seen to be believed. I think one main reason people raise their kids “in church” and then their kids end up going their own way, is because it’s just one more thing that their hypocritical parents made them do growing up. They know if it’s real or not. Be real.
I would love to talk to anyone who has specific questions about any topic. I take raising my kids very seriously. It’s my job…I should. Why do we expect everything else in life to come only by hard work, but we aren’t willing to work hard at raising our kids? We get lazy. And when we get lazy, our relationships suffer. So can you protect your kids too much? I think that if you are following all of these tips, it doesn’t have to come down to protecting vs. not protecting. It comes down to taking your job seriously. Going before God and asking what to do. Not listening to the people around you who are so quick to give their opinion on what you should and should not do. Some things are going to look different in different families. Where they go to school, what they can watch on tv, what they can wear…but ultimately we all have to answer to God for our decisions with our kids. So we better take it seriously.