How being sheltered improves your socialization

Michael Jackson at the Cannes film festival.

Image via Wikipedia

Wow, I am really sorry guys. Yesterday was a pretty tough day for me, and I completely forgot about my poor blog. So I hope you’ll forgive me and read this, even though it’s a day late. πŸ™‚

I remember about three and half years or so ago, I was riding in a car with Bro. James and Bro. Phil, two of the staff at Shenandoah Boy’s Ranch. We were out doing errands, while the rest of the guys at the ranch were off doing… other stuff, I don’t remember what. It was a privilege to get the exclusive privilege to ride with them. We always looked forward to such things to help break up the predictability of our lives. (And I liked it also because of the funny odd feeling I got riding in a car – I’m so ridiculously used to big rigs that riding in a car feels like flying a space ship.)

We were discussing things along the way all friendly-like, and the conversation turned from my odd taste in movies (a very popular subject of discussion at the ranch, heh) to my lack of knowledge of things sporting. Sporty? Sportish. Whatever.

I was challenged to name a single sports star. I named Babe Ruth.

Why? Because in Peanuts, Snoopy was planning to tie his home run record. (We have an old hardbound copy of Peanuts from my dad’s childhood personal library.)

That was all I could name.

They were flabbergasted, and a tad bit overcome with discombobulation. β€œYou don’t even know who Michael Jordan is??” they said.

β€œUm… you mean the black guy who looks funny because of all the plastic surgery?”

* dead silence and shocked awe at my endless knowledge of sports stars *

Evidently there are two famous people with the first name of Michael and whose last names start in J. Go figure. Sounds like a grand plan… let’s all confuse Jay!

Now anyone who knows me reasonably well (at least my more modern regenerated form, even though my hair isn’t quite ginger yet) knows that I am quite a bit more aware of my secular surroundings than I was. Quite a bit, yes quite a bit.

But here’s the thing. In ten seconds flat I had not only discovered who Michael Jordan is, but what he is famous for (and the connection to the tennis shoes too). And I remembered too. Well, most of it anyway.

And not only that, but now I also know a good deal more about Michael Jackson too (having watched a few of his songs and such like and fiddled with the moonwalk a tidbit).

That didn’t take more than a couple days. And I was completely caught up with all the other raving fans. (Well maybe not with the maniacs who know every bit of ML trivia that ever existed and some that didn’t, but who cares about that stuff?)

So what’s the point?

Well the point is… what would have been the point in me learning it all earlier?

They were astonished at my lack of secular knowledge, but why? Up to that point I didn’t need it, and once I did need it, I picked it up faster than you pick up red spots from a measle party. So who cares when I learned it, as long as I know it when I need to know it?

So at least as far as trivia about the world at large is concerned, who cares? Learn it when you need it, and you’ll be fine. No need to gorge yourself on the things ‘society’ says you need to know just in case you ever need to… talk about it… or something.

I am insatiably curious. Absolutely indefatigable when it comes to finding stuff out. Anything, I really don’t care what it is, as long as I don’t know it and I know I can know it. But even I find things uninteresting until something or someone has piqued my fascination in it. Prove to me its value (even if all it takes is mentioning it to me) and I’ll go and jump into it. But not before.

It’s similar with socialization. It’s ridiculous to say that your family and those you learn from and your mentors and even your books aren’t β€œsociety” and that by spending time with them isn’t β€œsocializing.” It’s simply rubbish.

What people are saying when they accuse us sheltered people of not being socialized is that we aren’t learning the things they think are important.

Such as the difference between the MJs.

They value such things, and they measure our competence on their plane of value. But we’re using an entirely different axis, a radically different dimension to measure our success and competence.

Sheltering your children merely means you are consciously choosing what measure of competence you are using, and then prioritizing their influences based upon it. Very simple.

So are you missing out?


But you want to. It’s not that you don’t like those things (hey, it’s rather interesting, at least to me anyway). It’s just that you’d rather learn other things first. Your priorities are different.

Make sense? Good. πŸ˜‰


24 Responses

  1. I must admit I laughed out loud at your guess at who Michael Jordan is. πŸ˜€ Not because you didn’t know, but because it probably would have been my guess too!

    I loved this post, Emeth! I can identify with it on so many levels, and your conclusion as to why our parents sheltered us and how it doesn’t really matter concreted what I already know and it really encouraged me. Thankyou! πŸ˜€

  2. I disagree with on purposely sheltering your children. My parents kinda let their children chose their degree of being sheltered. I am not sheltered at all. I’ve made the choice to not be sheltered and my brother has made a choice to be more sheltered than I am (he’s almost 13). Of course my other siblings are too young to decide such a thing, but they’ll decide how involved they want to be too.
    I think it should be the child’s choice – after they reach a responsible age – to decide what they want to be exposed to and what they want to learn about.
    I, personally, don’t think sheltering anyone is a good idea. I’ve yet to meet a sheltered homeschool child I can have a reasonable conversation with without running into the fact I live in a different circle and conversation is hard without the same reference points.

    • I agree, children should be able to choose their own interests and avenues of learning. That’s something that is vital to good development which is all to often missed utterly.

      Sheltering is merely filtering your input. If you aren’t sheltered then you’re merely gullible: you take everything in without discernment or wisdom. And so I would contend that you are actually quite sheltered, since you yourself stated that you chose your own level of exposure. Just you have a different shelter than I do.

      About communication… that’s a problem everyone runs into. Communication barriers are ubiquitous and God-designed. And besides, I might as well say the same thing about you… I have a hard time communicating with “un-sheltered” people because they don’t have the same reference points as I do. Which filter is wrong? Probably neither.

  3. Very intriguing. Though I must admit you nearly scared me off from reading when I saw a picture of Michael Jackson. 😯

  4. Interesting, but I think it might be better to use the term pop cultural to describe the kind of knowledge you’re talking about rather than secular. OR if you prefer the term secular, it’s more a certain area (pop culture) . I say this because you appear pretty knowledgeable about plenty of other secular areas πŸ™‚

  5. You know what’s funny? I once thought Michael Jackson was Michael Jordan. People in our area in the states were obsessed with Michael Jordan. And so once someone said something about Michael Jackson singing and I said “I thought he played basketball.”

    … and you make perfect sense. πŸ™‚

  6. LoL. I have to agree with the others; it took me a looooong time (as in, until one of them died) to get the MJ’s straight too!

    When I read “What people are saying when they accuse us sheltered people of not being socialized is that we aren’t learning the things they think are important,” I had to make an effort not to shout YES!! I even still run into that sort of accusation among students at my college, but I am constantly realizing that the things I learned were so much more valuable! I’m proud to say that I spent more time playing football with my brothers and reading Sherlock Holmes than keeping up with Brittany Spears or Saturday morning cartoons.

    All that to say this: THANK YOU for putting that in a way that makes perfect sense! I will almost certainly be quoting you to my classmates this fall. =)

    • Yes! Sherlock Holmes is much better socialization than Brittany Spears, no contest. Haha.

      And the most important thing we learned, was how to learn, and to love doing it. And so it’s a lot easier for us to ‘catch up’ on things we might have missed and now ‘need’ than it would be otherwise. πŸ™‚

  7. Well, Jay, I agreed with your points in the article, though you know I have an issue with the extent of sheltering that lots of Homeschoolers subject their children to. There is a healthy form of sheltering and there is an unhealthy form. I can cope as an adult in a modern society because I was raised to think and have ideas on subjects of the world. My parents sheltered me in the sense that they casually talked to me about things of the world, equipping and challenging me to filter things through my biblical worldview. By the time I was 16, I began to be exposed to some of those things, with parental supervision. After an evening of this, we would drive back home, and my parents and I would discuss things. By the time I was 18, I not only knew about these things, I understood them. That’s critical.

    Sheltering as a form of protection is not a bad thing. Sheltering as a handicap is. After all, why do we see so many homeschoolers breaking away from their homeschooled lives around 18? Simple. They have been taught that β€œthis is bad, this is off limits, I don’t want you to see this, just trust me”. All that does is incite curiosity. We have to train children to know about these things so that they can filter. Parents aren’t going to be around forever to do the filtering, nor should they. A child whose parents have filtered all their lives, cannot cope and fall into temptations. A child whose parents have honed their own filtering system, are the ones who stand strong.

    All that to say, I agree that you didn’t need to know about MJ or Jackson. Sheltering from that is a good thing. I didn’t know lots of that kind of stuff till I was older (I did know the difference between these two guys, though πŸ˜€ ). What I did know was how to stand strong as a Christian, in a world that tries to bombard me every day of my adult life.

    • I can see what you mean, Airi. I learnt things from my parents in the same way, where I would ask questions and my parents would discuss them with me. However until I began asking questions, it wasn’t necessary for me to know these things, and this is where I think my parents’ protection of me was perfect. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, it really comes down to the family vision. Some families don’t want to be as far on the front lines as your family is, and that is fine. And so they don’t need to be as prepared, in a sense. They need to be prepared for other things.

      But even then, like you pointed out, it isn’t just not seeing things that you should be sheltered from: that’s too narrow of a view of sheltering. The main thing we should be sheltered from is a wrong presentation of the rough things of life. We need to be introduced to them by our parents with a godly perspective, and not by the world itself on its own terms. That is when things get ugly.

  8. @BushMaid (aka Aussie):

    Yes, that is key with younger children, I think. You do not want to violate innocence, ever. And often children ask questions about what they are thinking about. If they aren’t asking, you prepare them in subtle ways. If they do ask, don’t side step. I know someone who sidesteps lots of her daughters questions because she feels they are uncomfortable. But that just frustrates her daughter, and causes her 7 year old to take matters into her own hands.


    Right, every family has a different level, the issue isn’t how much they know, but how prepared they are to live in a Godless world.

    Thanks for the article, Jay. πŸ˜€

  9. It is so nice to see other Christians as unknowing about these things as I am! A couple of years ago, I had a problem telling between Basketball and Baseball. I never have gotten the 2 MJs figured out.
    My parents while not keeping me totally ignorant, did shelter me and I am so grateful. I know more about old time Christians, and the Bible than I do, or hopefully ever will, about the world’s heros. Give me Amy Charmicheal or Willam Carey over any of those people any day!
    I really enjoy what you say and how you say it and have shared it with many of my friends.
    mucho bendigos!

    • Thanks for the comment, Lisa! It is encouraging to hear about other people from my end too. πŸ˜€

      God be praised for the heroes of the faith who have gone before us. πŸ™‚

      And thank you for sharing!

  10. *nods*

    I’ve been ‘sheltered’ in the same manner as Airi and find it offers both knowledge of the world, and protection from it. Knolwedge in a way that can see clearly and evaluate accordingly without be too ‘detatched’… protection in that Mum and Dad encourage me to think deeply about things before embracing them or forming convictions.

    As for Michael Jackson… I knew nothing of HIM till he was dead! πŸ˜›

    Thought-provoking post, Jay.

    • Yes, that’s the key: protection. Not knowing about it doesn’t really bring protection: it just delays the confrontation.

      Haha, yeah, I’m sure you aren’t the only one. πŸ˜€


  11. If you honestly believe this nonesense you were NOT sheltered as a child. Maybe your parents took you to hang out with a lot of church kids, maybe they allowed you to have many church friends. But the FACT is being sheltered DESTROYS any hope of building social skills. Your parents cannot teach you how to socialize with peers as they are your superiors. And sibling interaction is VASTLY different than peer interaction. Maybe if you had 2-3 similarly aged siblings but in a sheltered house they have no social abilities beyond your own and in the real world children are GREATLY different in this regard to each other and a sibling cannot compensate for this. Perhaps you simply THINK you were sheltered but it is beyond obvious you are clueless to how damaging doing this to a child is…it SHOULD BE considered child abuse!

    • If you want to NEVER have ANY association with reality this will work, but the instant you walk into the real world you will run scared and screaming with your tail tucked because you have no idea how to even talk to another normal person. You can only associate with others who are as equally socially inept and depraved as you…and you will find those individuals make up .00001% of the population. That is NOT healthy in any regard and NOT how Christ wants us to live. There is “not being of the world” and being naive and purely ignorant…naivety and ignorance are only EXTREMELY dangerous. Not understanding that is a symptom of these problems…because such individuals are clueless when it comes to survival skills. This isn’t opinion it is fact.

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