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Home > Support > Family Life > Where is the balance between sheltering our children and preparing them for the "real world"?
Question: My mom told me about a friend of hers whose grandchildren were also homeschooled. These other children did very well academically and scored high on the SAT and got into what would be considered "good" colleges, one into the Coast Guard Academy. When they went off to college they failed and dropped out. They couldn't handle not having the nurturing environment they experienced at home and the demands placed on them academically and socially. My mom cautioned me about being too overprotective and keeping too much of the "real" world away from my children. I am confident in my decision to homeschool and shelter my children at their tender age but how do I balance this with getting them ready for the real world which sadly is often times so different from what they are experiencing now at home?

Dear Mom,

The first thought that came to my mind when I read your heartfelt letter was the words of Jesus when He instructed those near Him, 'Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.' Matthew 6:34.

Do not let the word evil cause you concern. The Lord is instructing us to think about the challenges that are presented to us at this moment in time.

The Lord knew that our human frailty would push us to run ahead of His care into anxiety and worries that are not even presented as of yet. This action would literally cut us off from the Lord's teaching because we would be too preoccupied with the future worries (that may not even happen).

It is always a good idea to take the advice of our elders and to listen to their voice of experience. It is also good to let what we are told be relevant to our station in life. In other words it is far too soon for you to worry about your little ones dropping out of college. Better that you apply this good caution to where you are now. Think in terms of discipline that will make it easier for you to do what you need to do today. To nurture and love a child it is important to discipline the child in a useful and productive way. Making that discipline relevant to the challenges that are presented by their age and ability.

Children who go off to college always do better when they have supportive, loving and wise parents to lead them and stand beside them. Children discontinue their college educations for many reasons. There is always a 'rest of the story' when it comes to situations like the one your dear mother describes. The story of one family is not your story but is told for your benefit. Take what is necessary and leave the rest, entrusting the family and the situation to your prayers.

I admire a young person who comes to a choice that is difficult to make. It is hard to say 'I am not ready for a particular experience'. I believe that the parents of these children were equally loving for their children were able to be frank and candid about their challenges. This is the true story in this example.

The 'real world' is not a world that is somehow hidden from the life of a homeschooled child. The 'real world' is just that: the world all around and everything that goes on within that world. Is it right to shield our children from the vulgar, ugly, rude, and hurtful? Yes. I believe that we should always try to protect not only our children but ourselves as well from those situations in life that will only add confusion to our spirits.

Go forward with joy and do not let fear enter into your spirit. When your children are ready for a new experience then you will know and you will certainly allow this for them.

I used to be accused of being overprotective with my children. I did not try to overprotect as much as I wanted to be prudent and careful. The older children in this family have gone on to make lives for themselves. Certainly they have made mistakes (we all do) but the aspect of their lives that gives me the greatest peace, is that they are close to Jesus. They are childlike in their love and devotion to the Lord. They are on a journey that will take them many places but they started that journey here in the home.

I admire your sweet nature and your desire to listen and honor your dear mother's concerns. This will be rewarded. Your patience is a holy witness.

Let us pray together at this moment a Hail Mary. Dear Blessed Mother, enfold each child close to your heart. Give each mother a heart for her children. Help us to take courage from your witness as we return our children to the Lord each day. Amen

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

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