I have heard the question too many times to count. Normally parents who are considering alternative ways to educate their children pose the question. However, it has come from grandparents, elders, and even preachers: “Aren’t you worried about socialization?”
I used to get a little upset when this question was posed, because it was often asked like I was withholding an essential “vitamin” from my children that would stunt their growth and development. It was usually posed in a way that questioned my ability to parent. Today I just laugh.
Even though we are called to be different from the world (Romans 12:1-2), our current Christian culture is convinced Christian young people should spend a great deal of time “socializing” with people their own age. The social skills of anyone who does not attend public schools or is not involved in group activities like sports teams, band, clubs, etc. is questioned.
It’s no secret that there have been homeschoolers who have come across as socially awkward. However, to label all children that are not enrolled in public school as socially inept is a gross generalization. (I might gently point out there are also public school students who come across as socially inept, not able to talk to adults and look them in the eye.) And so, even in the church, the question comes: “Aren’t you worried about socialization?”
Here’s what I intend to teach my children regarding socialization.
We made a rule a long time ago that we would always welcome your friends over to our house whenever they are able to visit. There are many weeks I wonder if we should rethink that rule—because rarely does a week pass by that we don’t have friends over 1-2 times per week. Add to this, we spend countless hours on the road going to various church activities, visiting shut-ins, and attending sports activities. Mix into that the dozens of friends you have collected all over the world as we travel to “Origins” seminars, and you begin to understand why your mom and I don’t worry about the “socialization” question. There are many times when I wish you were a little less social!
However, when it comes to socialization there are two important points I want to mention to you. When you look at the definition of socialize, one of the keys words that you will read is “society.” Your mom and I don’t want you to conform you to society. We don’t want you just to be “social citizens.” Our passion and life-long goal is for you to be warriors for Christ. Second, we don’t just want to rear children who are comfortable talking to their own peer group. We love watching you interact with young and old alike.
God made man to be social. In fact, one of the cruelest forms of punishment we have come up with is isolation. It is important that you develop the skills to communicate with others around you. You can’t live on an island or in a box. But just what kind of “socialization” are we really talking about? I want to peel back the curtain and allow you to see what my mind thinks when someone ask me if we are worried about you being socialized.
My immediate thought these days is:
I don’t want my children socialized into drugs and alcohol.
I don’t want my children socialized into bad language.
I don’t want my children socialized into disrespecting adults.
I don’t want my children socialized into tattoos and piercings.
I don’t want my children socialized into thinking siblings are lame.
I don’t want my children socialized into thinking they should rebel against parents.
I don’t want my children socialized into immodest clothing.
I don’t want my children socialized into sexual activity.
I don’t want my children socialized into ungodly music.
I don’t want my children socialized into pornography.
I don’t want my children socialized into an obsession of social media.
I don’t want my children socialized into the modern dating scene.
I don’t want my children socialized into things like prom and homecoming.
Life can be difficult sometimes. It is important to surround yourself with friends you can laugh and cry with. When you “socialize,” make sure it is with people who can help you get to Heaven. Paul’s words are still very valid today: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).