There’s a strange dichotomy of opinion when it comes to sheltering. We are told incessantly throughout the winter that our pets must be sheltered from the elements. We are warned on the verge of a frosty night to cover our delicate plants to prevent them from freezing. And then we are told that our children cannot be sheltered and must be exposed to the wide world in order to adapt to it.
And incredibly, the humans in our society have taken all of this as wise counsel and put it into practice.
It’s a pet peeve of mine to see animals given more respect than humans. So when I’m reminded each winter that the animals in my life, who were, in fact, created to live outdoors, must be moved indoors for the winter, I just laugh and throw off the guilt of a bad pet-mom like a pair of dirty socks.
Cats with fur coats, dogs with fur coats, chickens with downy feathers, cattle with warm hides, goats with soft hair — either they all must live outdoors or they must all come in. Right? Who determines the cutoff??
I jest. But not completely.
We do the same with plants. We fence in gardens to keep the rabbits out. We cover tender annuals against the frosty nights. We stake young trees to strengthen them from the winds. We protect them while they are growing so they may reach full maturity.
And rightly so.
Now take the young humans. In our modern, all knowing society, we are told from the time they are babies that they must “experience life” in order to grow and be strong. They must cry themselves to sleep. They should go to preschool or day care to learn how to play with others. They need to go out into the dark world to be a light. Parents should let go and not shelter them. Not baby them. Not protect them.
But this is madness! While we baby our doggies and cover our plants, we are told to release our young, delicate, sensitive humans to all that humanity might throw at them so that they can mature from it. We are told that we actually can’t and shouldn’t shelter them.
But the Bible says otherwise.
“Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6)
Train up? Kind of like staking a tree or a vine or a tomato plant.
“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants…” (Psalm 144:12)
Well-nurtured plants. Sheltered, fed, and cared for. Not tossed out in the elements to survive as best they can.
As a protective mom, I’ve heard so many times that I can’t shelter my children. I heard it said to my mom as I grew up. Why? Because my parents had made some decisions that seemed radical at the time. No TV in the home. Carefully chosen music for our entertainment. Homeschooling. It’s been the same for my husband and me. We prayerfully set guidelines for our children involving music, movies, friends, books, and free time. We homeschool. Even “christian” youth events are carefully screened and limited. And we have been criticized for trying to shelter our children.
But let me ask you: if a parent is not to shelter their children, then who will? If that is not my job, then what is?
I see my children as tender plants. They are young, delicate and need lots of nurture and protection in order to reach maturity. And if they are to be healthy plants and flourish — and possibly change the world — then all of that depends on the care they receive as seedlings. They are sensitive and vulnerable.
And I’m not just talking about babies. Young kids and teenagers need shelter, too. They need their parents to protect them from the elements that damage their hearts and souls.
The world is like the hail storms, the high winds, the freezing cold, and the searing heat. The love of sin, the love of self, the hatred, the evil, the immorality. Our children need to be sheltered from these elements. Your children are better off walking through the difficulties of the world with a loving, wise parent, just as they would venture out in the rain with the protection of the umbrella.
Learning about the world in the safety and shelter of the home is for children like the shelter of a plant from the hail and wind, or the safety of a baby chick under its mother’s wing.
Have you seen a mother hen with her chicks? She is aware of every danger around her, and will do everything in her power to keep her babies safe. And the little chicks know that their best protection is right up under her wing. When she feels the time is right, she takes the little chicks out into the yard and shows them around. She teaches them how to find food and water, and how to scratch. But she stays right next to them, and if any harm comes near, she calls to them and takes them under her wings.
Why would human mothers be expected to do any less?
Dear Naysayer: do not criticize the loving parent who desires to provide an umbrella in the midst of a downpour. Do not harass the mother who desires to stake her tender plants as they grow. Do not scoff at the mother hen who gathers her children under her wings for a time.
Plants are beautiful and pets are sweet. They are a part of God’s beautiful creation. But the humans He created are so much more important and deserving of a proper upbringing than any plant or furry creature. We were created to have dominion over all the earth, and not bow in servitude to the needs of creatures and objects without souls. Flowers and doggies won’t change the world, but your children just may, and they are in training for that right now.
So embrace your desire to shelter and protect your children in this short season of their lives. They will flourish and grow strong, and produce good fruit.
“Raising children is the most important job in the universe.” – James Dobson
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Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
My mission for 2017 is spreading the great news that #AnyoneCanHomeschool. I’m excited to be writing a book, recording a podcast, and speaking to parents all over North Texas. Check out the latest on these projects here: