Your children's friends
Question: I am a young mom and
I share many of your beliefs on raising children. My
husband and I certainly don't do what everyone else does
- we don't have a TV, we will definitely homeschool, and
we hope to have many children. You've mentioned how you
don't have your children play with hardly anyone else's
children. Can you explain how you do that? My husband
and I have discussed how we would like to have control
over whom our children have as friends. Is this really
possible? How do you manage it, especially once you have
Answer: I could spend a lot of time on this
subject, but I'll try to be brief. If you start out
keeping your children separate, teaching them your own
standards and values, it isn't hard to keep them away
from children you don't want them to associate with. The
hard part is when you let them live with one foot in
each world, then change up on them and try to tell them
you want them to only live in one world. Some people are
initially offended when they hear me say this, but
please remember that it could, and does, apply the other
way around also. Many families who do not feel the way
we do about certain issues, don't want their kids to
associate with ours either, so the feeling is often
Now for the practicalities. When they are small it's not
much of a problem at all. Just don't put them in
nurseries, or make play dates, or send them to
pre-school, etc. In my opinion, this goes for most
church activities too. We do not send our children to
Sunday School, or Jr. Church, or Vacation Bible School,
etc. We keep them in church with us when we go. (We are
currently home churching with a number of other
like-minded families so we don't regularly attend a
traditional church.) We don't do this just to keep our
kids separate, we really do believe that kids should be
worshipping with their parents, not playing (or even
worshipping) with their buddies only. Don't start
encouraging them to play freely with the neighbor
children. Keep them at home with you for the most part
and when you feel the urge to socialize, do it as a
family with other like minded families. Focus on
relatives if possible regardless of whether or not they
have children. Your children will benefit far more from
a day spent with Grandma, than a day spent with the
Once they've reached school age you still should not
have problems if you homeschool and haven't
encouraged friendships and free, unsupervised,
socializing with neighbors, etc.. There won't be a
problem with them longing for the company of their
friends because their friends will be their parents and
siblings. I think that is the way it should be.
Nothing dramatically changes when they hit high school
age (if you continue to homeschool). Now this will be
completely different than the way most of us were
raised, so expect that. Most of us were raised spending
most of our waking hours with our school friends and
then our neighbor friends, and our families got the
leftovers, perhaps dinner together and some TV time in
the evenings, and occasionally some special events on
the weekends and holidays.
My family was a little different. We went to school all
day like everyone else, and were allowed to play outside
with our friends after school, but we had to come home
at a specific time, and always had dinner promptly at
6pm with our whole family when Dad got home. After
dinner we were never allowed to go back out and play
with our friends. We spent the evening inside with our
parents. That wasn't all that unusual, but a few other
things were. My parents had a cottage on the water out
in the country and we spent every possible weekend there
and all summer. We were virtually isolated from
everyone, as no children lived nearby and the few
neighbors we had only spend a small amount of time
there. We were pretty much alone all the time and we
loved it. We learned to get along great with each other
and even with our folks! During the day we played freely
with our siblings and also did a lot of work together as
a family. I remember each of us working our own garden
plot every morning and taking turns planning and making
the meals, cleaning the cottage, and mowing the lawn. As
we got older we helped drywall the cottage, build the
garage, reshingle the roof, clean out the well, and a
multitude of other family farm type things. We had no TV
so we all played board games in the evenings and talked
or read. Besides giving us a great education for
practical living, our family became our friends, and we
are all close to this day. Anyway, that's the way our
family lives now all the time now in our city home, and
that's what I highly recommend to anyone who is
About neighbors, if you start out letting your children
play with the neighbor children it will be hard to break
the habit later, especially without offending the
neighborhood parents. Don't get started. If your
neighbor sends their child over to play, try to be
"unavailable" until they lose interest (and
they will when they find other friends). I'd recommend
being friendly to all neighbors, but don't become close
friends unless they share your views on the matter of
homeschooling and socializing.
One more comment. Even if you find a group of people who
all homeschool and all have no TV and all have similar
beliefs, etc. it is still not wise to let your
children socialize too much, even as teens, maybe I
should say "especially as teens".
I want to say that my teens are great and I've never had
to deal with "raging hormones" or
"teenage rebellion" etc. They do have friends,
but rarely see each other without at least some of the
parents being there. Again, this is not due to our focus
being solely on this issue. Rather it is more a natural
result of our encouragement of "family
togetherness" and the fact that all of our close
friends raise their families likewise, so no one feels
offended. We are all promoting close families first.
How do I say "no"?
Question: I don't want my 5
year old to play with a certain neighborhood boy who is
a bad influence. How do I tell my child "no,"
after allowing them to play together in the past? When I
try, he whines and cries and tells me I'm mean to him.
Should I spank for this or what? His attitude doesn't
seem to be bad, more sad.
Answer: I can't say absolutely because I'm not
there, and not the mom, and it depends on a lot of
things, but generally, I'd say that I'd talk to him and
explain clearly why you can't allow him to play with
everyone and anyone, and definitely not with some
children in particular.
Tell him you love him and it's your responsibility to
see that he grows up to be a godly young man. (Explain
at a 5 year old level, that godly means "good"
and other things.) Tell him that God gave you the job of
protecting him while he is young. Tell him that even
grown-ups have to chose their friends wisely and stay
away from friends when they don't behave well or
friends, who will teach them wrong things. Tell him the
story of King Joash who spent his early childhood all
alone with NO friends at all! (See 2 Kings 11 and 2
Tell him that his mother and his family should always be
his best friends. Tell him that you should not have
allowed him to play with wrong friends in the past and
you are sorry you did, and you know it is hard, but you
have to do what is right. Tell him that you are changing
a number of things so you can all be a better family and
that's one of them.
Those are just some suggestions. I'm sure you can come
up with some more. Don't apologize too much, but try to
be understanding as long as you think he is trying also.
Explain these things as though you are
Now, if he gets sullen and angry, or continues to whine
just to try to get his way, then I'd still tell him the
above, but I'll also correct him for his attitude. I'd
tell him to stop it, and I'd spank if needed. At age 5
he is still young enough to change his attitude quite
quickly with prudent correction. Be sure he has a
cooperative, non-whiny attitude when you are done.
Read his spirit. Be sure it is sincere, that he
sincerely wants to obey you. Don't let him
"pretend". You are not finished until he
has a good attitude and is willing to submit to you
without whining. Convince him to agree with you,
and that this is best for him, and that he must obey
with a good attitude.
Question: My friends and relatives are
pressuring me to send my child to pre-school so that he
can learn necessary social skills. I'm starting to think
this might be a wise decision. I don't want my child to
be socially backward and lacking in social skills. What
do you think?
Answer: After 10 children, I still don't
understand this idea that without preschool, kids won't
learn "social skills".
What are these people talking about? What exactly is it
that they are afraid they won't learn at home? Believe
me, they can learn patience and turn taking at home.
What is so important about a 3 year old learning to
"interact" with another 3 year old? I'm more
concerned about my 3 year old learning to interact with
a 1 year old or a 5 year old. Relating to an equal is
Okay, what else? Learning not to cry when you lose a
game? That can be learned at home. Anything else?
Respect for the person in authority? That should
be taught at home with the parents. Obedience to rules
and respect for the feelings and property of others?
These things should be taught at home too, if you
Now I'm not saying that all pre-school is bad, or that
kids will be irreparably harmed by it, many enjoy it,
but necessary to teach "social skills"?
I don't think so. As far as I can see, the only
"social skills" these children really learn
that they couldn't learn elsewhere (yet) is how to
follow the rules of a classroom situation; how to follow
the rules of an institutional group or traditional
school environment. Even then, it has been readily
admitted, that a non-pre-schooled child will
"catch-up" (learn these same skills) in only a
few weeks or months, once they hit kindergarten, and a
homeschooled child doesn't really need them.
The first time my oldest child went to
"school" was when he went to driver's
training. As far as I could tell, he did not suffer from
his lack of previous experience sitting in a classroom.
At his age all we had to do was briefly explain the
general rules of a classroom situation and he picked up
the finer points in a matter of minutes. He had no
problem relating with the other students or the
If you want to send your child to pre-school because you
think it will be fun for him, or because you want some
"away from your child" time, or you need to
work, or whatever, that's fine - I might not agree, but
at least it makes sense. I don't buy the argument that
they "need to learn social skills".
What About Witnessing?
Question: How do you feel you and your
children are following the Matthew
5:16 exhortation to
"let your lights shine before
If you keep your children away from other
children all the time, how are your kids learning to be
the salt and light of the earth?
Answer: You are talking about witnessing, right?
Here's the way I feel about the witnessing issue: To
begin with, I don't think we live quite the way you may
be picturing it. We don't keep our children locked in
the house all day. We don't forbid them to ever talk to
anybody but us. Actually, I think they interact with
others more than most kids do. That is, they interact
with others outside their age group more than
most other kids do. After all, they are not sitting in
the same room with the same kids all day, day after day,
like most kids are.
We are definitely in the world. We live on a main
street in a large city. We haven't lived here long, but
the neighbors have all met us and spent time briefly
talking with us about our values and beliefs and
parenting style. They know we are Christians and they
know we do quite a few things, like homeschooling, that
are not mainstream.
Besides our neighbor contacts, there are the larger
community contacts. There are doctors, dentists, music
teachers, commercial and service people, and more. For
the last several years, we've been building this house,
and the kids and we have been interacting with the
dozens of contractors and suppliers and workers on the
job. Today my house was full of electricians. We and our
children interact with people in all these situations
virtually every day just in the course of normal active
Then there's the business world. My husband has his own
business and almost always takes a couple of kids with
him to work. He takes them to lawyer meetings and banker
meetings and business conferences and city council
meetings, and so on and so forth, as often as he can.
These things all involve interaction with people outside
of our family. Perhaps the older kids have more
interaction with the rest of the world than the younger
ones, but I think that is as it should be.
As far as the younger children go, yes, I do limit their
play (especially unsupervised) with other children.
There are many times that it can't or shouldn't be
avoided however, so it is not as though my kids have
never spoken to another child before. We have attended
many church services and other events, virtually all of
which include other children. We go to all our family
gatherings and they all include children. There are many
other children within the "home church" group
that we routinely meet with. We, of course remain
friendly with the neighbors, and try to serve them when
possible, but just don't encourage close friendships
between our children and theirs. (They don't necessarily
want that either.) Our children are not sequestered from
the rest of the world or from all contact with other
children. We just don't look for more opportunities than
we already have.
Of course I don't have a problem with my children
"witnessing" to other children, or "being
a witness to other children", but the reality is,
that if you let your children freely socialize with
other children on a regular basis, with less than
vigilant supervision, they are far more likely to pick
up negative things from each other than they are to
impart positive things to each other. This even holds
true when we are talking about siblings! Now obviously I
don't keep my children away from their siblings. I don't
want to. But I do supervise, and in the case of
siblings, I have authority to correct misbehavior, etc.
I do not have that authority with other people's
children, so I do limit interaction with other people's
children, especially unsupervised (by me) interaction.
Back to the "witnessing" thing. Do you really
think that if I let my 6 year old play with the next
door neighbor's 6 year old, that the neighbor's child
will be saved because of it? I guess I really don't
think so, at least not at that age or younger. I've
never really seen it happen that way, although I'm sure
anything is possible. I can tell you, that from the
experiences I've had, what is far more likely to happen
is one of two things: either the neighbor's children
will decide that my child is some sort of freak and will
start calling him names or saying things like, "Why
does your sister always wear those stupid dresses?"
Or else they will decide that my kids are their favorite
kids in the world to play with (maybe because mine will
tolerate things that other children may not), and they
will want to practically move in, and will immediately
begin exposing my children to all of the things I've
been trying to keep them away from until they are older.
I really don't see the benefit in allowing this to
happen. In fact, I feel it is my God given
responsibility to protect my children from these types
of hurts and wrong influences, especially when they are
Now please understand, I'm not talking about abused or
neglected neighbor children here. I'm not talking about
special cases, where the neighbor child perhaps needs
extra kindness or care from me and my family. I'm not
talking about a case of God leading me to develop a
closer relationship with a neighbor and/or their child.
I'm talking about ordinary neighborhood kids whose
behavior is acceptable to the world, but not to me. I am
supposed to be in the world, but not of the world, and
that is what I am trying to do it.
Now just because I don't think my young children can do
a lot of meaningful verbal witnessing to the other young
children in the neighborhood (even if they are trying),
that doesn't mean my children aren't being a witness to
others just by living as they are, especially to the
neighborhood adults. Believe me, your neighbors notice
your children. If they notice your children being
respectful to you, and kind to their siblings, they will
take note. My children ARE being a witness even without
my sending them over to play. A better witness I think.
I really believe that the best thing my family can do
for my neighbor's children is to witness to their
parents. If my children are being godly witnesses, the
neighbor parents will come over and ask me how I do it,
which is a wide open door for me to verbally witness for
Christ to the parents, who can then witness to their own
children. Somehow, I think that order is right and good.
A City Set on a Hill
Please understand that "witnessing" is not
limited to verbal witnessing. When others see you
living a godly life, you are witnessing. When
they see that your home is peaceful and orderly and your
children are happy and obedient, that is
witnessing. I have never felt like I was more of a
witness than since we began raising our kids differently
than most other people raise theirs. Truly, "A
city set on a hill can not be hidden."
If we are raising godly children in the midst of an
ungodly world, we don't have to worry about not being a
witness. If others notice us, then we are witnessing,
and they will notice us. We stand out like a sore
thumb. We are witnessing whether we like it or not, and
many times this leads to verbal witnessing as well. Now
lest you think our kids are not doing any verbal
witnessing themselves, please remember that we keep our
children with us as much as is possible, so they are
always there sharing and "witnessing" too,
when it is appropriate. I have noticed that as my
children have grown older, the sharing of their faith
verbally has become a natural habit that they exercise
as they would anything else they are interested in and
want to share. They do so readily as the Lord leads and
the occasions present themselves.
The curse of scattering:
I think our society is to blame for our kids moving away. Of course whenever we say "society" we really mean "we".
As we were growing up it was just assumed that once grown, there was not a single thing wrong with moving to another part of the country, or the world. It was more or less expected really. Isn't that what everybody does? Isn't that where all the good jobs are (somewhere else)? Isn't that how you better yourself?�Don't you need to separate yourself from your parents and create your own identity? Don't you need to get your own life?
Obligation to one's parents was never mentioned when we were growing up. Parents just sort of didn't matter once you got married and left home, and the nursing home would take care of them when they got really old. The value of having your children grow up near their grandparents was never mentioned either, because children were never mentioned. I don't think most young people even think about having children (who have grandparents).�
I think that accepting this idea of "moving away" starts in grade school where the excitement of the rest of the world is impressed upon our little children. "Aren't foreign countries and their customs wonderful and exciting?" "Isn't it great fun to be an adventurer or an explorer?" Then in high school it's: "Where are you going to college?" If you stay home and go to a local college you are looked down upon.�You need "diversity". You need to get out from under your parents oppressive thumbs and experience the world and be "independent". That's where I think it starts, in our youth, and particularly in our schools. But I don't think it should be that way.
Unless something drastic happens, I don't expect any of my children to ever move out of the state we live in. The reason is because we have, from day one, impressed upon them that it is not the best or even the right thing to do. The rest of the world may be exciting and wonderful, but so is our own backyard. After all, other people's children are moving away from where they are, to be here, aren't they? Our children will not go away to college. If they attend college, it will be a college near home.�
The concept of remaining close to one's family is one of the most important things we have tried to teach our children. I'm not talking about them just living in the same state either. I mean the same neighborhood. Feel free to say, "I told you so", if it doesn't work out that way, but that's what we are actively aiming at.�
This is also why we live here where we currently live. It is not because this is our favorite town in the world, and it is not because this place has the best job opportunities or is the most exciting. It is because this is where both my husband's family and my family live. If we want our children to live near us when we grow older, then we ought to be living near our own parents now.
Setting an example:
When we were first married we lived fairly close (within 30 minutes) of both of our sets of parents for several years. Then, to follow the job market, we moved about 100 miles away and stayed there approximately ten years. About that time my husband began thinking about changing jobs again, and at the same time we began to pick up on the biblical concept that it was good to live near one's parents.
One day when we were back "home" visiting my husband's parents, we mentioned our desire to move back to the area, and Opa (my husband's father) told us that his pastor's house was going up for sale. Well, we knew that that house was directly behind Great-Grandma and Grandpa's house! So we called up this pastor and told him that very night, that we'd buy his house from him immediately, for his full asking price. We'd never been in the house before, and knew next to nothing about it except for its advantageous location. Still we were confident that we were doing the right thing, and we did not hesitate.
The following day we again drove the 100 miles home and took a look at our new house. Guess what? It turned out to be the largest house on the block; just about the only two-story home in a neighborhood of small one-story houses. God had provided a more than adequate house for our many children and the best part was that it was directly behind our children's Great-Grandparents' house, giving them an opportunity to get to know them before it was too late. We installed a gated between our yards immediately.
As it turned out Great-Grandpa died less than 2 years later, but not before we and our children and spent many days and evenings in his home getting to know him and love him. We have moved several times since then, but have always stayed very nearby (within walking distance) and have received many blessings because of it.�
Not long after our next move, (still in the neighborhood) we helped Oma and Opa purchase a house only 1 block away from us. They had been living about 30 minutes away and at first weren't sure they wanted to live practically next door. They even warned us that they "didn't want to be a baby sitting service". But we twisted their figurative arms and they did not regret it. For the last 15 years our children have been blessed with the pleasure of seeing and learning from their grandparents almost every single day. They have also seen us set the example of choosing to live near our parents as we want them to choose to live near us one day.
Question: My children's grandparents hardly ever visit. Should I confront them and tell them they ought to visit their grandchildren more often?
Answer: I would never think to confront the grandparents in a case like this. I also wouldn't expect them to fit my mold of what I think grandparents ought to act like. They may feel they are doing you a favor by staying out of your life. They may feel it is your obligation to bring the grandchildren to visit them, or to invite them over. They may be uncomfortable spending large blocks of time with small children since they probably haven't had any in awhile. Try to find out what their thinking is and give them the benefit of the doubt. I do think it is very good for the grandchildren to be close to their grandparents, so I would suggest you invite the grandparents over more often if you don't think they see each other enough.
My children's' grandparents live on the next street and as soon as my kids are about age 3 or 4, Grandpa starts stopping by and taking one or two of them shopping with him, and to visit Great-Grandma in the nursing home, etc. I think that's great, and even better than him taking them to some special event, etc. It allows them to interact in real life activities, not just entertainment. I don't mind at all if the littler ones are temporarily overlooked. Of course your kids must be well behaved for things like this to happen.
With my mother, it works a little bit differently; she loves the kids every bit as much, but just expects us to come to her house when we want to see her. (She is also older and it is harder for her to get around, so this is very understandable.) That is fine with us and we usually visit once a week and spend the afternoon or evening.
Question: What about young people who have been led by God to join the military or to become missionaries, or to go away to college to become doctors? If everyone kept their children home, we would have no military to protect us in time of war, and no missionaries to spread God's word to other countries. It is nice to want your children near you, but in my opinion they are not ours, they are God's children and if he has called them to go away to college to become doctors, to be missionaries, to be in the military, to be in the Peace Corps, then it is not our job to hold them back simply because we need them in our back yard.
Answer:� I appreciate the views you have expressed. The above article was intended to convey a general view pertaining to the average family. I did not cover the exceptions that can and do occur. My main purpose was to question the common "18 and out" viewpoint that does not come from God, but from the world. Most young married couples do not leave their families because God has led them to join the military or to become missionaries. Most young college students who go "away" to college do not do so because there is no college nearby. They do these things because they want to get "away" from the authority of their parents, and because they have been raised to believe they have no obligation to their parents after age 18 besides an occasional "visit". I just don't think this is a scriptural viewpoint. Of course, if the Lord clearly leads you to go away from your family, you must and should go. I would just be sure the leading is from God, not elsewhere.
I strongly support our USA military and have quite a few family members and friends who are in, or were in, the armed forces. (My brother, my nephew, several cousins, my husband's grandfather, etc, and also friends and internet friends.) I also have several missionary friends, and have actively supported missions for many years.
As far as our children being God's children not ours, yes, this is true, but I believe God intended earthly families to be smaller models of His larger spiritual family, and if He wants us (his spiritual children) to be close to Him (our spiritual parent), then He ideally wants earthy children to be close to their earthy parents as well.
When the family is already scattered:
Question: My parents live in one state and my husband's parents live in another. So where should we seek to live? Does one set of parents get precedent over the other?
Answer: As far as I know, it is not a command to live near one's parents. I do believe there are many benefits to everyone if it is possible, and so it is a good thing to desire and work toward.
Since there is no rule to follow, I think you'd have to follow the Lord's leading as to which parent you lived near if they don't both live each other. Perhaps one is more in need than the other. Perhaps one set is more eager for your closeness than the other. Perhaps the husband has strong feelings about one vs. the other, in which case the wife has to be sure she is submitting as she should be.�
In our case, both sets of parents lived within 1/2 hour of each other, so at first we moved next door to the grandparents, who were somewhat in the middle. Then we encouraged my husband's parents to move almost next door to us. Now we are within a couple of blocks of my husband's parents, a couple miles of my mother, brother and sister, my husband's Aunt and Uncle, his sister, and with 1/2 hour of his brother, and several other relatives. I have several siblings that live out of state, so we are not near them. My husband's grandparents are deceased now, as is my father.
None of our family members are currently missionaries or in the military so that situation does not apply to us. We are hoping our grown children will search for a spouse who is from this general area.