When I tell people we homeschool, one of the main comments that come up is this concept of “socialization”. I usually respond that we are involved in all sorts of activities, who my children have ample opportunity to “socialize”, but really – where did we get this notion that sticking kids with a large group of kids their own age is the best way to “socialize”? And while we are on the subject, what is “socialization” anyway? If it means to conform your child to behave like the world, it only takes the reading of the morning news to realize that is not what you want for your precious children. Despair, anxiety, greed, lust….
I think when we talk about socialization, what we really want for our kids is to be able to relate and respect other people. I want my children to learn to identify and connect with a 90 year old man, and to have compassion and concern for the 8-week old infant. I want them to recognize that someone needs help, and of their own initiative, offer their assistance. I want them to greive over atrocities to other humans – God’s family members on this Earth. I want them to have deep aches for the plight of man, and our inability at times to see through the true lense to Him who created all things.
So how do we best “socialize” our kids? Is it T-ball games and choir practice, and CC presentations? I am not sure that’s it.
You can give your child a verbal lesson on how to play ball. You can play catch in the backyard, and toss a ball for him to hit. But no matter how hard you try, they just won’t understand how to be a part of the game until they step up to bat. We can teach our children to have compassion by teaching them about the compassion Jesus had on others. We can instruct them to share their toys, and take out the garbage to share the load of a family. We can suggest they hold the door open for people, because that is what a gentleman does. But I think the best way to “socialize” is to care for “social” ills around you – care for the elderly in your community. Take meals to families with new babies, and parents who lose a child. Sit and pray with them and let your children see you. Greet your neighbors pleasantly every time – even the one that drives you crazy. Do things for people who can give nothing back to you. Pay attention to the atrocities in this world, and find appropriate ways to introduce and explain them to your child at an age-appropriate level. Use geography studies to talk about people across the globe who are different and how God made us all to bring glory to his name. Care about the 18,000 children dying daily of starvation. Care about the parents holding these children in their arms, with nothing to give them. Pray for the children plucked from fields and given machine guns to fight in a war and learn hatred as if it were the only answer. Give to organizations that make a difference.
Do. Something. That. Matters.
We don’t need to give our children self-confidence – suggesting that by encouraging them to look at themselves and all they can do, they might be able to see they are valuable. Our value comes from God alone. It is not a myopic view of self that gives liberty to the soul of a child, but the self-less wings of servanthood that demonstrates their worth. When your child looks at someone in need and has compassion on them, and smiles to them in an effort to assure them that they matter to God, they plant the seed of worth in their own hearts. They see themselves with the same compassion and value they attribute to others. A worth and value that comes only through God’s loving arms and Christ’s redemptive power on the cross.
I choose to “socialize” my children in a way that teaches them that everyone in society matters because they matter to Him who holds creation in the palm of His hand. This mystery of life and love, sprung forth from our Heavenly Father.
To the glory of His name,