This is the question I have to ask myself when I make radical parenting decisions for my children.
I am obsessed with the NBC series, “Who Do You Think You Are?” That explores the family history of some very famous people (they use celebrities because they are familiar to the viewer)- The celebrity isn’t the excitement of the show, it is the stories they uncover in the past.
Lionel Richie was on this week. He explained that he came from a family that did not tell him there was segregation as a child (this was during the civil rights movement) and when the KKK came into town to protest they would put the kids to bed early. He said this sort of sheltering during his early years, along with the praise and uplifting of his parents made him truly believe he could do anything he wanted.
I think it is important to be open with your children, but some things they just won’t know when they are really young unless you tell them. There are a lot of people that say trans-racial parents should explain to their children early about racism, but I’m not so sure about that. Samuel is four and why would any four-year-old need to know that there are people that hate him just because he has a bit more melanin in his skin than I do?
I take them everywhere with me, and the kids are going to be home schooled….so, yes…they are sheltered…but if sheltering them means that they can be given a chance to blossom and understand their full potential before it is destroyed- why not?
I heard a quote once from a homeschooling mother:
“A child is like a seed that needs to be cared for to sprout. They need to be sheltered from the cold until their roots have grown strong enough to handle the harsh winters.”
That completely changed my perspective. Why would we put children that are at their most fragile state in situations where they are going to be shaped by strangers that may not have their best intentions? And I’m not talking about school- it is more of a general statement.
In African countries (and most countries in this world) there is more hands-on parenting than in the United States. I feel like we’re losing that. We let our kids be cared for by strangers that will never take care of them the same way as we do, and we barely spend any time at all with them- between dropping them off at dance/sports/music/art lessons and letting them spend the rest of the time watching TV.
We allow our preteens/teens in their most insecure time to group together with their peers that are also insecure. This leads to bullying…. bullying is causing these kids to commit suicide, and the parents had no idea anything was wrong- but cared about what grade their child brought home.
African children are known for being the most compassionate children in the world. Dr. Wess Stafford mentioned that when playing soccer with the kids in Nielle, on the Ivory Coast, a child would fall and they would immediately stop and run and comfort the child until he stopped crying (something we noticed Samuel will do with Aram and children on the playground- now little Aram does it with him). When playing soccer at his American school the same year he noticed the children would keep playing in order to make a goal- as if the injured child was actually beneficial to their goal.
African children are taught the importance of school- so there is no excuse that homeschooling is the way to raise more compassionate children. A lot of the children also are taught that they can do anything- their parents never point out their impoverished surroundings. The spirit of the children (the ones that I’ve seen in Ghana, and definitely Samuel) are better than any children I’ve ever encountered in the US. The adults seem happy, too. And isn’t that what we’re doing? Raising people that will spend the majority of their lives (God willing) as adults?
So, if we need to shelter them from things that may bring down the spirit of who they are going to be…I say do it.