Naive, Unsophisticated Children {And the Evil That is Out to Get Them}

There is a common line of thought that says too much sheltering of children will produce naive adults that cannot function in the real world. In the case of homeschooling this is just an extension of the age old “What about socialization?” question. (As if the child who spends seven hours a day, five days a week in an artificial environment unlike any he will ever encounter as an adult, will be better prepared than a child whose main role models are mature adults.)

But ironically, this myth also abounds within the homeschool community.  Could it be possible that we decry the “What about socialization?” remarks but on some level we truly are still worried about it?

We fear that our children will stand shocked and bewildered when someone uses profanity in their presence or they aren’t savvy to the words and phrases that other kids use to speak of illicit sex.  We fear that the latest movie or pop star will be discussed and our kids will awkwardly stand there not participating because they have been too sheltered from the world and haven’t heard of these things.

Parents assume that the best way to know evil is by experiencing it for ourselves and so we expose our children to evil, but only to the degree that we deem appropriate. Yes, that sounds good.  And look it’s right there in the Bible in the book of…wait.  Nope, it’s not there.

God never intended His children to know evil.  He wants us to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil.  Satan is the one who told Eve to taste for herself.  And he wants us to fall for that same old lie.

Moms, our task is not to bring up children that fit in with this world.  Are your kids weird?  I hope so.  I hope they seem like they are from another world. If we are fitting in with the world then we are conformed.

The challenge of every parent is to raise up children who love God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength.  Children who have a living and vibrant relationship with Christ, shining a light that penetrates darkness with righteousness and the gospel.  We want more than just “good kids”.  We want kids who enthusiastically love truth and hate evil and who have a burden to go out and change this world–not fit in with it.

We want them to know the difference between right and wrong because of:

1.) A good overview of the scripture.  I can teach my son more about immodest women and the flattering and seductive women of the world, through the use of scripture.  He doesn’t have to experience it.

2.) We can teach them the major doctrines of the Christian faith as well as teach them theologically rich hymns.

3.) We can teach them from biographies of true heroes–men such as Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone and William Carey.

4.) And we cover it all in prayer, that God would bring the increase of all we sow.  We pray He would sustain them when they are one day out on their own and that their love for Him would motivate their choices once they are outside our protective walls.

We pray that the “faith of their fathers” becomes their own.

Shaping Them in the Greenhouse

One thing is to be sure:  Our children will eventually be exposed to lifestyles and choices that are foreign to them.  But we, their parents, are the shapers of their “want to.” Shaping them happens in the home–the greenhouse for tender plants that protects and shelters them until they are ready to be transplanted outdoors.

Children are going to develop an appetite and hunger for what they are fed. If all we feed them is junk food why would we expect them to grow up and eat nutritious meals?  And if we allow our children to listen to and partake in pop culture, why are we surprised when they develop a listening ear to (or outright embrace of) the world’s philosophies?

Our children will one day have the freedom to go places, do things and spend time with who they wish.  Has their “want to” been shaped by you?  One day their decisions will not be driven by what they are afraid we, their parents, think.  Their decisions must be driven instead by a strong sense of the presence and holiness of God.


Honor Thy Father and Mother-The 5th Commandment

Honor your Mother - Ex 20_12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

Honor your parents.The first four of the Ten Commandments address our duty to God. The last six outline our duty to man. The first relationship considered is the parent-child relationship, which in principle also applies to any other authority relationships. This is the first commandment that carries a promise with it. Honor your parents so that you will live long “in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

This commandment should be near and dear to our hearts as parents. Our children will not be blessed unless they learn to honor and submit to God. One of the primary ways they submit to Him is by obeying their parents, God’s delegated authorities in their lives.

What does it look like when a child is honoring his parents? Let’s consider a sampling of practical, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road ways a child can honor his parents (and the other authorities in his life):

  • Obey and show respect, even when his parents make mistakes
  • Listen carefully to what they say to him
  • Answer his parents respectfully and acknowledge that he has heard them
  • Look at parents when conversing with them
  • Speak politely about them
  • Speak politely to them
  • Think God-honoring thoughts about them
  • Show common courtesies such as opening the door for them, standing when they enter the room, seating his mother, etc.
  • Give up own desires and comfort in order to serve and help his parents
  • Listen to and heed their counsel
  • Thank his parents for the different things they do for him
  • See, admire, and imitate their strengths
  • Pray for his parents
  • Willingly obey their godly commands
  • Do what his parents would want, even when he is not with them
  • Respect his parents’ privacy
  • Keep his word to his parents
  • Complete the tasks his parents give him to do
  • Prove his willingness to obey before asking permission to appeal to his parents
  • Spend time with his parents
  • Seek to please his parents with his words and actions
  • Honor their wishes regarding dress, music, hairstyle, etc.
  • Pray for them
  • Respond humbly to correction
  • Taking care of the things his parents have provided for him

A child is disobeying God’s command to honor his parents when he:

  • Refuses to make eye contact
  • Rolls his eyes in response to parents
  • Glares at his parents
  • Mumbles when speaking to parents
  • Doesn’t talk to or withdraws from his parents
  • Interrupts when his parents are speaking to him or others
  • Talks back or argues with his parents’ decisions
  • Throws a tantrum
  • Questions his parents’ motives
  • Mocks or makes fun of his parents
  • Speaks behind his parents’ backs
  • Criticizes or sets himself up as his parents’ judge
  • Challenges his parents’ decision in the presence of others
  • Speaks sarcastically to his parents
  • Purposely does what he knows his parents do not want him to do
  • Chooses to wait until he feels like obeying instead obeying immediately
  • Withholds important information from his parents
  • Resists their leadership
  • Ignores his parents
  • Takes offense when corrected
  • Physically resists discipline
  • Neglects to fulfill his assigned responsibilities
  • Disobeys his parents when they are not present
  • Deceives his parents
  • Outwardly complies with parents’ wishes while inwardly rebelling against them

Obedience doesn’t come naturally; it requires us to acknowledge that we are not in charge of our lives, and that’s a hard pill to swallow, even (or especially) for a two-year-old. He will fail to obey many, many times, and we will have many, many opportunities to help him see how much he needs Jesus. He can’t fully obey God’s law. He needs Jesus to pay the punishment for his disobedience. He needs to “put on” Christ, and then God will see His Son’s righteousness when He looks at him. He needs the Holy Spirit who will renew and empower him to do what he cannot do in his own strength.

We mustn’t forget to tell them this.

~Pam Forster

Note: Doorposts has produced several products that might help you in teaching the Fifth Commandment to your children:

  • Honor Your Father and Mother is a coloring and teaching book for young children, which explores in picture form, the many ways they can obey this commandment.
  • For This Is Right expands for older children the meaning of the Fifth Commandment, with the help of the Westminster Larger Catechism.
  • A Checklist for Parents is a simple tool with 26 questions to help parents examine themselves in the light of God’s Word.

The first and last books are available digitally as well as in print.

Educating For Life! By, Candy Zackey

I’m surrounded by my children at the big table covered in bright tie-dyed African fabric in our study. The computer at the desk prompts our daughter Peace, age 12; “Sass…never sass your parents”, as she works through her spelling drill work.  Maura (also 12) sits daydreaming out the window instead of reading her open science book, and Heretta (15) waits patiently for me to check her science lesson and meanwhile watches over Peace’s shoulder.  

Caleb (10) and Lawson (12) work away at their math lessons at the big table. Hannah works at a nearby lap-top taking care of Children Concerned e-mails. Nikki’s off checking that both sets of washer/dryers are still running. Thomas is writing a letter in the quiet of his room. Charlea’s finished with her lessons and is off playing with the three little ones. Rachel’s hard at work tending to Children Concerned tasks, as well.

Let’s see–that accounts for 13 of the children; Jack (21) Jordan (18) Chelsea (17) are out mowing lawns and Ethan (15) is  working with my husband, Tom.

This is the scene on any average morning at our home. It’s nearly 10am…the dishwasher hums away, the kitchen is cleaned up and the evening meal defrosting on the countertop (lunch will be leftovers), bathrooms and bedrooms are tidied and the day’s work is written upon a dry-erase board. Each child is assigned work equal to their abilities; roughly one-hour’s worth.

Soon we will gather in the living room to read God’s Word and pray. Currently we are working our way through Revelation. The children read one to three verses depending upon their abilities as we go around the room. We give this about 45 minutes; then pray. Afterward, I read aloud a chapter of a book. Today I’m starting an old favorite, Appointment in Jerusalem.  (The phone rings, but we leave it go to the answering machine.)

11:30am–reading time is finished. The children wrap up their lessons and most have begun their housework from the dry-erase board for the day. With so many able-bodied children to do the work, we can keep the house running! One very helpful resource in training workers is a Kent Hovind video entitled, “How to Make Money and Spend it God’s Way”.  (I say it should’ve been called, “A Mother’s Sneaky Way of Teaching Children to Become #1 Workers”!)

Let’s face it; teaching is training. What my children learn (educationally speaking) doesn’t matter as much as HOW they learn. My children will pick up my attitude easily. If my thinking is, “How can I get the best for them?” but I fail to teach them to lay down their lives–then I cannot complain when I see my children as self-centered adults who care little for others.


Many home-educating years ago, I remember lamenting over which curriculum to use with my precious little ones. They were blossoming into eager learners and I desired to give them ALL I COULD as any good parent would. When I sought the Lord in prayer, asking Him what He would have me teach them, He asked me a question. “Candy, what if all your sons turn out like your husband and all your daughters become JUST LIKE YOU?” Suddenly, what to teach was of little importance!

My focus became less about my children’s education and more about becoming the person I was in Christ. I became more concerned with living in a way that would bring honor to my Lord. They were watching how I was handling situations, and would model my behavior.  I needed to focus on what mattered to God, and I knew I needed to turn my thoughts more to loving and supporting my dear husband, also.  The best thing we parents can give our children is a good marriage! It will bless their lives far more than anything else we could provide, aside from salvation.

Life’s Stages

There are seasons to our lives–these may last weeks, months or even years. Our life seems to ebb and flow every other year depending upon a pregnancy or new baby, or an adoption. It seemed to be the pattern that every other year we would have a terrific year of advances in our children’s education and the in-between year we’d simply maintain. We’d keep in sight our overall goals and remind ourselves that Home Education is a lifestyle.

There are days we get behind in the house and I call a strike on the lessons. Laundry gets messed up, we can’t find things, office supplies can no longer be found! Meals in the freezer are eaten up and a big cooking day needs to be scheduled again. This is LIFE.  Sometimes cleaning and creating order is more necessary than lessons. It is education; life education.

It comes down to the question, what really matters to us? What are our goals for our children’s future?  Do I want them to be geniuses but live in disarray or possibly forsake their faith? That may sound extreme, but we must remember that what we do today will become the pattern for the future!


Many a Sunday evening I’ve gone to bed with grand plans for the upcoming week. What educational heights we were going to hit!  Where we would go and how the children would be able to get so much out of it–only to awaken Monday morning to sick little ones or maybe I didn’t even make it through the night myself; being up with a small baby. Through it all I learned what was needful that week!

When I was pregnant every other year, so sick, unable to do much for them or myself, they took care of me! This would last four to five months each pregnancy. I would lament, “Oh! I’m unable to be the wife/mother everybody needs! Their education is suffering. They have to take care of the house and each other and ME!”

But my fears were all unfounded! No one complained (other than me) about them having to care for the little ones or Mom. My eight year old daughter learned to cook simple meals. The six year old became an expert at caring for her toddler brother! The three year old and the toddler learned to play well together, and no one was the worse for my lack of involvement! We’d actually come out of it stronger as a family! Yes, we had some catching up to do in the house and lessons once I was on my feet again–but a child can accomplish a lot in three to six months time!

Whenever I meet with the beautiful mothers at Above Rubies retreats, I am asked, “How do you do what you outlined in the “The Life of a Queen” in # 64 Above Rubies? I do not have it all figured out, I just know what works for the Zackeys. What the Lord has revealed to me, works for us. He’ll have a plan for you, too, as you seek Him.

What to do

Figure out what your overall goals are. Keep the Big Picture in sight. For instance, one goal may be that the children have a good working knowledge of Scripture. Well, then, are you making Bible time? Will it be a subject of great importance, and how often will you have instruction in the Word? What about Scripture memory? If you want your children to memorize God’s word, you must apply yourself to helping them ENJOY memorizing each day!

We assign a chapter of Scripture to the entire family for the month.   We discuss together which one to do, and then DO IT! I break it down into four parts and require they meet the weekly goal by a particular day. I always tie a privilege to the accomplishment.

Don’t require things that are drudgery (other than math). I remember a friend (back in the early years when we all attended Home Education support groups) asking a home educating father, who happened to be a school teacher, how she should best direct her son.  He responded with a startling question, “What do you love to do?” As he wisely explained, our children will love to do what we have a passion for.  Do you love playing guitar?  If so, you will be able to REALLY teach your children to play, or pass on the desire to want to excel!

I LOVE to read great literature!  I always make time to read to them and discuss symbolism, foreshadowing, etc. and talk through the book when we’ve finished reading. All my children love reading. In fact, several of them have gone on to study great works, beyond what I ever sought out.

What I don’t love or excel at (like Geography), I find creative solutions for. In the case of Geography, I put the US map and the world map under a see-through plastic tablecloth at the dining table. The children loved it! They would quiz each other on the capitals of countries and US states and learned all about where everything was in the world.

State Requirements

We have always had a good district to work with, even when we lived in Florida.  Here in New York we are required to provide a list of syllabi at the start of each year telling what teaching materials we will use, and provide quarterly reports and annual assessments for each child on Home Instruction.

That may sound daunting, but we’ve made it simple! I write out an IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan) for each child.  Really, I just use the same one for each grade and change the child’s name. It spells out the minimum to meet state requirements in each subject. I count the housework as learning time, as well as any time spent reading aloud.  I call it “Applied Studies”.

Our older children are allowed to work at a desk in their room. They appreciate the quieter atmosphere. They take their IHIP and break it down into goals for themselves and we meet to check over their progress weekly.

But then we do more!  Meeting the State requirements doesn’t take all our time; we also keep a list of what we want to learn, what we want to study, where we want to go (field trips), etc.  Some years its following an interest in studying about the blind, dinosaurs, African wars, explorers, ice skating, sign language, quilting, sewing, nature, etc.

Contentment and Focus

But even in the hard times, when “extras” are not part of what we’re doing; we must stay the course of what’s important. Loving each other and keeping things together are goals as well!

At the end of the year, what do you want your children to remember?  I know what I don’t want them to remember. I don’t want them to think back and say, “Mom was always too busy for us. The computer and everybody else took her time from us.  She was on the phone…”  I don’t want them to have wasted their time on the computer or in front of the television either!  Some years we have set the goals to be “learning to get along with each other” above any educational accomplishments. For our younger adopted children; their first year home was, “learning to play and adapt to our family” as they had so much to take in changing cultures and never having played with manipulatives like blocks or dolls.  Those were important goals.

Adoption has taught me a lot about what’s important. Our African children have come with gaps in their education, some more than others. Rather than say, “Oh! How terrible! They’re so far behind!”  We have chosen rather to see the blessing. What an opportunity to spend quality time with these, my children, which I have not raised until now. Helping them fill in their learning gaps strengthens our bonds with each other and makes them confident in their abilities! What joy!


Akron, New York, USA

Tom and Candy Zackey are blessed with 17 children: Jack (21), Rachel (19), Jordan (18), Chelsea (18), Ethan (16), Heretta (16), Hannah (16), Nicole (15), Thomas, Jr. (13), Maura (13), Peace (12), Clay (12), Caleb (11), Charlea (9), Hawa (9), Olivia (5) and Cecilia (3).

Missional Mothering

Missional Mothering

Young mother, it seems like everyone wants something from you. And you’re probably already giving way more than you ever thought you could give. But even with all your giving, you might struggle with guilt—lingering, joy-drenching, energy-sapping guilt—that you should be doing more, giving more, accomplishing more.
Don’t waste that guilt. Pay attention to it. Use it. Take it out of the shadows and examine it in light of Scripture. Is this a godly grief that leads to repentance or a worldly grief that produces death (2 Cor. 7:10)? Is it life-giving or life-depleting? Ask yourself, does this bring fresh joy and peace to those nearest me, or does it add unnecessary stress and strain to my home?
Mother: You have a mission field.
Our first and primary mission field is our children. God values our children. Jesus became indignant when the disciples didn’t embrace the worth of children in God’s expanding kingdom (Mark 10:13-16). God tells us that children are his blessing to us (Ps. 127:3). And he places great importance on our teaching our children to love and serve him (Deut. 6:7-9).
Don’t feel guilty over making your children your primary ministry investment in their early years. Your availability, sensitivity, affection, and unhurried attention are irreplaceable.
There are no neutral moments in a young child’s life. Someone is going to be influencing your children, inculcating values and imprinting standards on their impressionable young minds. Let it be you!
Accept your calling from God to serve your family. As a mother, you are helping to shape the souls of your children for Christ and ultimately influence the world. Your children are your gift to the future.
 Stay on mission
Does this mean you will never invest in others outside your family? Goodness, no. But if you are a young mother, stay on mission. Use your primary ministry of mothering to serve Christ now. Don’t let anything diminish your unique role as a wife and mother. It is not godly guilt that would call you away from a wholehearted investment in your little ones for his sake.
Don’t feel guilty over making your children your primary ministry investment in their early years.

This season in your life is just that—a season. And each season is a divine calling from our creator and king. Organizing a new event at church is important. Teaching your little boy to be kind to his sister is also important. But which one can best be done by you during this season? Serve God well by ministering to your children first. Very soon they will be grown and gone, and you will be unable to recapture the teachable moments you have now.
Mothers, listen to Psalm 78:4-7: “We will . . . tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders he has done . . . that the next generation might know . . . so that they should set their hope in God.”