Keeping Your HomeEdders Safe!
I view home education as a fundamental right and a significant responsibility. I do not take the importance of equipping my children lightly and, by extension, significantly impacting their future.
My wife and I are pouring book knowledge and historical facts into our kids' minds. We are imparting daily life skills needed for today and the future. We pass along our experiences and our worldview. We sincerely desire to prepare our children to be ready for any and every situation they may face.
Creating a Nurturing Space
A lot of learning and life takes place in our home. As a result, we want to promote all types of learning, and perhaps even more importantly, we want to teach our children the art of learning. When people understand and have practiced their learning style, very little can stop them.
I want my home to be a nurturing place for my children to ask tough questions and press into challenging conversations. I want my home to grow curious minds and develop future leaders.
Leaning Into Challenges
Although I want to do everything in my power to help create an environment where my kiddos can learn, I fully understand that part of my job as a parent and home educator is to help my children process life when all is not going as planned.
Sometimes the most significant lessons in life are learned through failure. Sometimes we grow the most when we face challenges. As my children mature, I give them more autonomy. As parents, we should reward our children's growth with more rights and responsibilities. There is a saying in English: "give someone more rope." This phrase describes giving someone more freedom to move out and explore.
As a parent, my job is not to hold on tight and never let go. As hard as it is, I must give up more and more of the rope over time. And as I do, I must teach and equip my children to overcome new obstacles and challenges. I must encourage my kiddos to stand up when life knocks them down.
Keeping A Watchful Eye
I would rather my kiddos learn a $10 mistake at home than have to learn a $10,000 mistake after they have left the nest.
I have a couple of kiddos who ask to go to Walmart anytime my wife or I need to do some shopping. And, of course, you know what aisle they want to go to, right? The toy aisle!
I often hear things like ...
- "Wow! This toy is so awesome!"
- "I want (insert favorite item here)."
- (Insert new favorite item here) would make me happy."
Even a trip to Walmart provides "on-the-job" training. My wife and I have a philosophy that our kids need to understand the power of money. Money is a great tool that can improve and change a life, but it cannot be our source of identity and ultimate happiness.
Sometimes a mistake or wrong decision helps us learn. I allow my children to make purchasing decisions that I disagree with so that they learn how to manage and properly use money. If they know solid financial foundations today, I believe they will be better equipped for the future.
Let's contrast an ill-advised purchase with an even more startling reality I have to teach my children to avoid/navigate. I will not, under any circumstance, allow a stranger to take my child while I am at Walmart. I don't plan to let anyone take my kids from me. That is not a lesson a child needs to learn from experience. My role in this situation is to protect my children from strangers and danger.
In controlled environments, I let my children explore and learn through failure. But I keep a keen eye on who enters those environments.
A Wolf Among Us
Home education is wonderful, in part, because of the value it places on the home and family. But we do not live in isolation (at least, I don't believe we should).
My family runs in many social circles - our friend network, faith community, sports teams, homeschool coop families, etc. Doing life with other people is an essential part of the learning process. My kiddos must learn to interact with all types of people, starting in our home and extending to the outside world.
When we open ourselves up to others, we may receive the benefits they offer, but we also risk being impacted negatively. So what happens when it is someone in our social circles, not a stranger at Walmart, who has the capacity and the tendency to do harm? We had to face this very situation last week.
Imagine our surprise when we opened the local newspaper's front page and saw the face of someone we know. I saw the face of an acquaintance being accused of abuse.
So many emotions rushed over me, primarily disgust. My mind was filled with questions. Over the last week, I still have a lot of questions - lots and lots of questions.
Statistically speaking, at least for a family my size, someone in my family will be impacted by some abuse or trauma. I hate that! That thought makes my heart ache.
Although I cannot stop all the evil in the world, I can teach my kiddos how to avoid some of the ugliness I have seen, and I can unconditionally love them if something terrible happens.
The following are some of the principles my family lives by:
- We removed "secret" from our vocabulary.
We do not keep secrets. A secret implies something that can never be revealed. Instead, we talk about surprises. A surprise is something that is momentarily withheld from public knowledge but will be revealed soon.
- We have always used the correct anatomical name for body parts.
It sure did sound funny when our 2-year-olds mispronounced their body parts, but we use the correct anatomical name for a reason. People who try to groom young children often use nicknames for private parts. These secret names are often kept as secrets from parents.
- We taught our children that only certain trusted adults should see or touch a person's private parts.
This principle is limited in scope. As parents, we need to assist our younger children with bathing and changing clothes. When medically necessary, doctors have my permission (or my wife's permission) to examine and treat our kiddos.
- We are cautious regarding our children spending one-on-one time with adults of the opposite gender.
This principle does not just apply to our children. My wife and I are also careful about being alone with members of the opposite sex.
- We promote safety first.
If one of our kiddos feels unsafe or uncomfortable at any time, we will pick them up, no questions asked. Safety is our top priority. Difficult conversations can take place at another time.
- We do not believe that shame is a burden meant to be experienced in isolation.
I fully expect one (or more) of my kiddos to do something they will regret later. And if by chance, they can avoid hitting their personal self-destruct button, I know that outside forces are seeking to devour them. I never want any of my children to isolate themselves because of shame caused by their personal decisions or by an outside force. We will work through all things as a family. We value restoration and renewal.
- We encourage the right type of intimacy (at the right time).
My wife and I believe that sexual relationships should be reserved for marriage. I hope I did not lose you with that old fashion statement. We believe that honest, age-appropriate conversations about love, marriage, and sex help our kiddos build a strong foundation for future relationships. It is important to us that we show the beauty of strong, loving relationships. Any thought of "love" repulses some of our kiddos (which is ok, for now). We are not forcing the issue on our kids but instead carefully building an age-appropriate foundation that giving your all to someone (mentally, emotionally, and physically) is a beautiful thing.
I want to protect my children to the best of my ability, and I want to teach them to protect themselves and the people they love. As parents, we must lean into challenging conversations to prepare our children for challenging times.
I want to hear from you.
- Do you feel comfortable talking with your children about challenging topics?
- If so, what advice would you give parents who do not feel comfortable?
- Is there a topic you would like for me to discuss in a future post?
Thanks for stopping by!