Alan shares how to avoid isolating children by equipping them with the truth.
How can homeschooling parents avoid the problem of sheltering their kids too much? I’m sympathetic to this concern because my wife and I homeschool our kids. We understand the desire to shelter our kids from things that are harmful in this world. Often times, in our attempt to shelter our kids, we end up doing more harm than good.
I don’t think we should avoid sheltering our kids from everything. For example, sheltering our kids from gangs, drugs, or violence are legitimate things to shelter our kids from. My own parents were born in Baghdad, Iraq. They realized it was not an ideal place to raise kids. There was revolution after revolution and wars constantly going on. My parents wanted to shelter their kids from a war zone. So, they decided to move to the United States in the 60s. As a result, I got to grow up in the United States, and I was sheltered from that war zone.
There are certain things that are legitimate things to want to shelter your kids from. However, there are some things that are appropriate to expose our kids to. When it comes to sheltering our kids from bad ideas, this is an area where I think we have to be more careful. I want to suggest to you one way we can avoid this problem of sheltering our kids too much.
We need to inoculate, not isolate, our kids from bad ideas. Often times, we want to isolate our children from false ideas that we think are hostile to the Christian worldview. We might tell them the names of the false ideas and then make fun of them, or we don’t give them credit. We don’t teach our kids why people believe these false ideas, and as a result they become isolated from these ideas.
When our kids run across a real person who holds false ideas, they are completely unprepared. Take the issue of evolution. Many times, Christian homeschooling parents will tell their kids about evolution, and they’ll say that evolution is a false idea and a bad idea. Instead of teaching them why people believe in evolution, they simply end up mocking the idea by saying it’s ridiculous. If anything, we might throw some Bible verses at the subject as if Bible verses are rocks, moving the issue of evolution out of the picture. This just simply leads to isolation. Then, when our young kids run across a real evolutionist, they are completely caught off guard. The evolutionist actually has evidence from science and philosophy explaining why they believe evolution is true. They might bring evidence from geology and paleontology, and other things. Our kids will wonder what’s going on because they didn’t know there was so much evidence for evolution. They might survive barely with their faith in tact, but forget about them having any impact for the cause of Christ.
Instead of isolating our kids, we need to inoculate them with bad ideas. If you think about inoculation when it comes to medicine, how do we inoculate against the poliovirus? Well, we take the poliovirus, either a dead or very weakened form of it, and we insert it into the body. The body then realizes it has a foreign virus, so it creates antibodies that are like an army to destroy the poliovirus. That way, when you go out into the world where the poliovirus is more common, and you get exposed to the real virus, your body says, “I’ve seen this before. Now here is the army of antibodies I have prepared to destroy this virus.”
The same is true when it comes to the inoculation of false ideas. We need to teach our kids false ideas enough so they understand why people believe them. That way, when students run across people who are evolutionists, here’s what happens: The evolutionist will say, “Hey, you’re a Christian? Well, let me tell you why you’re mistaken about your views because evolution is true. Here are three reasons why evolution is true.” Our Christian students will then be able to respond, “Oh, I’ve heard these three reasons why evolution is true. Let me give you two more why evolution is true.”
The evolutionist will then be surprised. Your student will then say, “And here are the reasons why those five reasons are false.”
This is powerful because our students don’t just survive with their faith in tact; rather they become agents of change. This is why inoculation, not isolation, is one of the key ways that we can help prevent parents who homeschool their kids from sheltering their kids too much. It allows them to be exposed to false ideas in a carefully controlled environment in an age-appropriate manner. When we do this, we can avoid sheltering our kids too much while preparing them for the real world and ideas that are hostile to the Christian worldview.