Merriam Webster dictionary defines shelter as “a position or the state of being covered and protected”. In my view, this is why God gives children to parents. Who else is going to cover and protect those tiny little babes? As the wee ones grow, we allow more and more experiences, knowing that those experiences will help to shape and mold our babes. We make sure that the safest products are used, we pour over the childcare books to ensure we’re not missing anything, and we talk with other Mamas to glean from their experiences. All to give our children, these tiny babes entrusted to us, the best life has to offer.
To me, sheltering is a form of socialization. Yes, my children spend plenty of time around others. We don’t hide them away from society, but rather indulge them in society. But, that means ALL of society. Not just same aged peers. Not just same sex peers. Growing up with siblings, both older and younger, affords them the opportunity on a daily basis to learn to relate to others who are different. They learn to speak clearly so that those older can understand them. They learn to speak slower so that those younger can grasp every word. They learn to play (the best form of learning) with all ages groups.
I think we socialize animals.
We shelter children.
I now have 2 adult children in the eyes of the law. They are quite capable of holding their own in most any situation. Currently, they both work in retail. There is no other microcosm of life that brings folks from all walks of life, all stages of life, and all temperaments of life together quite like a retail job. I’ve watched them interact with older folks and be respectful of them. I’ve watched them take care of those much younger with the utmost of care. They can hold their own in a debate, but can also be silly with their friends.
Their “socialization” has resulted in being confident, self-assured, polite, joyful, steadfast young adults. Could they have arrived at this same place had they not been sheltered? Maybe. But at what cost? How many broken hearts would they have had to endure? How many bullying situations would they have had to figure out?
All four of my children have learned a LOT about people and the way they are through friendships.
They’ve seen the good and the bad. They are quite honest with me about their friendships. It’s easy to talk about this as I know all of the children (and parents) they are talking to me about. They are not faceless strangers to me. I feel this makes it easier to talk about what may be happening in my children’s lives. All six of us know each others’ friends, since we are usually all together, and our “socializing” is done together.
This is not to say that there are not bullying, one-up-manship, manipulative, or other difficult situations to navigate. Sadly, those situations exist even within the homeschool community, but that’s fodder for a post another day. What it does mean is that when those situations come up, we are able to help our children through those times. We are usually aware of this garbage before our children are, and can begin to head it off at the pass, so to speak.
We’ve always said that we travel in a pack. This, to me, is the best way for a family to travel. Yes, my children have social lives, but they are not “socialized”. They’ve naturally learned the rules of life- including etiquette, friendship, respect, and honor- in the same manner that they learned how to walk and talk, under the guidance and love of their parents. I can see no better way for a child to learn.
As an example, I start teaching my children to deal with others in “authority” at a young age. If we go to a restaurant, they order their own meal. If we go to a movie, they purchase their own ticket. If they want to purchase an item at WalMart, they complete their own transaction. I want them to be confident in speaking to others and able to communicate effectively, even if it’s not a comfortable situation. Just recently, my girls and I went on a shopping trip. While we were out, we had lunch at Wendy’s (have you had their salads? Yum!). Each of us placed our own order, and paid for it individually. Mary discovered that she was given the incorrect amount of change (her order was $4.07 and she paid with a $10 and the $.07, but realized she was only given $4 in change rather than the $6 she was due). She didn’t realize this until we were back at the table, and then showed me. Rather than brushing it off, she and I went back to the counter to fix this wrong. The cashier realized his mistake and she was given her missing $2. What Mary learned was that we all make mistakes, to be respectful when bringing this mistake to their attention, and the confidence to take care of things such as this herself. I think those are all valuable lessons for all children to learn.
So, yes, my children are sheltered, proudly so. And, yes, they know how to be social. The world is bigger than four walls. I have watched them in all sorts of environments and places. If they need help, they ask for it. If they see someone in need, they offer help. They never cease to impress me with their poise and capabilities.
My fellow bloggers in the iHomeschool Network are sharing their thoughts on homeschooling and socialization today too! Be sure to head on over to read their thoughts on this topic!
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