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You Say It Like It’s a Bad Thing

China - Simple ParentingYou accuse me of sheltering my kids like it is a bad thing.

For 9 months they were part of my body.  For another year+ they needed to be within arms reach for both nourishment and mobility.

They will walk out on their own into the world around the age of 18. But there is a a huge transition for them to go through between being a toddler and being an adult.

This transition is made possible through sheltering  

It is a parent’s job and responsibility to help kids grow, learn about the world, and feel the pain of the world at a rate that they can handle and will benefit them.  This is sheltering and I fully intend on continuing.

The world is both sick and beautiful in degrees that I, even as an adult, cannot always understand.   Even though the realities of the world hit kids everyday at young ages doesn’t mean it is the best, and it is definitely not what I want for my kids.

The meaning of shelter is:

  1. structure that protects or covers: a structure or building that provides cover from weather or protection against danger
  2. refuge: an establishment providing temporary accommodations and food for people in need or without a home (source)

This is my job as a parent and what I intend to provide for my family.

But somehow, even though the word ‘shelter’ brings feelings of comfort and warmth, when we apply it to children it is a bad thing.


How can giving my children protection against the weather of life and the dangers of the world be seen as bad?

My home is a refuge, it isn’t permanent, but it is life-saving during the period it is needed – while my children are young.

Everyday there are terrible stories everywhere of kids who needed shelter and but didn’t have it.   As much as I am able I want to provide that shelter for my kids.

Shelter is not jail, it is very different.   Shelter is needed to protect from the full force of the weather outside.  Shelter is for the benefit of the person inside.  Shelter is a welcome structure.

Shelter gives the opportunity to leave and explore when the outside conditions are safe and a place to run back to when things change.

But, you say, my children have to go to school and to live like other kids.  How will they survive when they leave the shelter of home if they haven’t had practice?

Practice doing what?  Talking about Sponge Bob?  I am not sure how that will help them in real life.

You call it sheltering for them not to know all the popular cartoons and movies coming out, but I choose to shelter them from this so they can develop their own imaginations and learn to think for themselves instead of being told what to think by popular media.

You call it sheltering when I allow them to act, dress, and play at their age level instead of trying to fit into the clothes and societal rolls of kids 5+ years older, but I choose to allow them the benefit of childhood and protect their right to it.

Somehow it is considered sheltering to have them interact with many different ages, cultures, and economic levels instead of putting them in a room all day everyday with a group of kids the same age from the same neighborhood.  …really?

My children may live different. I may be very involved in the lives of my children.  I may hold a lot of control over what they watch, read, and learn.  I may monitor and supervise their interactions with other kids.   But I see this as a benefit to my kids, a protection, a training, and a guide.  I see it as my duty.

So, if you see me, or another sheltering mother, and think we are just out to brain wash our children, control their every move, or are afraid of letting them grow up, you just might be wrong.  Instead we may be clearing the weeds to allow our flowers to grow, or clearing the stage to allow them the space to dance.

My name is Lorilee.  I am a parent, and I shelter my kids with pride.



  1. anuradha anuradha

    Lorilee, the world needs many, many more mothers like you!!!
    Choosing to protect and support children in their daily adventures through life is also a way to bring up children who are healthy, curious, safe, positive, open-minded, compassionate and confident.
    Thank you for bringing light to the word shelter.
    Children need shelter like air to develop into adults who will make good decisions in the face of life’s challenges and opportunities. Whether homeschooled or regular school does not change the need for shelter.
    “Sheltered” children by themselves start choosing to live healthier (food, friends, hobbies) as they enter teenagerhood, in their teen years they tend to make better peer-related decisions based on the many years of seeing, hearing, doing good things with their time.
    A wise man once said, children need to sit on the parents lap top, they don’t need to sit only in front of the lap top! :)
    All best, Lorilee!

  2. I just wanted to say this, I am hoping you didn’t mean it to be offensive, but not everyone who sends their children to public/private schools doesn’t care about sheltering their kids.

    I take great care in what I allow my son to watch on the computer (no tv here) and toys he plays with. But, I still send him to school.

    I just kind of felt like that was a jab.


    • Maybe I am just being defensive. Sorry.


      • Kate,

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to jab at you. Often I get accused of sheltering because I homeschool (amoung all the other ways we are different). However, I agree that you can definitely still shelter your kids and send them to school. :)

        Thanks for your comment,


      • In retrospect I realize that because homeschooling is the less popular choice, you probably get more people judging you for making that decision. I have a lot of guilt about not homeschooling.
        But, I guess in the end you have to let God lead you to the best decision for your family.

        Thanks for responding kindly to me.


      • Kate,
        I think it is hard for all us women. We make the choices we think are best for our family but we still feel guilty for what they miss out out. We want to give them everything but in every choice for something we are choosing against something else. I stress about how my kids miss out on school things sometimes and even though I know traveling to China and learning is going to be so good for them, I feel bad about what they are missing.

        I hope you have a great weekend!


  3. Claire Claire

    Yes, yes, yes! Love it! We are going to try public school, but I wasn’t offended by the school part. I’m sure that sheltering varies from family to family. I can guarantee that my mothering will remain unconventional even if my son stays in public school! People already see our family as incredibly counter-cultural because my son doesn’t watch TV and is not familiar with the mainstream characters, etc. (And as a side note, lack of TV helps with minimalism, because he doesn’t see commercials, so he doesn’t think to ask for “stuff”.) It is ironic how people think that sheltering parents as brainwashing, but see nothing wrong with social conformity.

  4. Heather Heather

    Awesome. Thank you for writing so eloquently about what I feel but have not ben able to express regarding my parenting decisions. I am standing up straighter and with a little more confidence now.

  5. Shelly Shelly

    I feel driven to add:
    My name is Shelly. I am a parent, and I shelter my children with pride!
    I love that!
    Thank you for speaking out on this topic, Lorilee! It needs to be said and heard. I don’t think it’s necessary to add a politically correct disclosure before making a radical statement to defend your expression of parenting style. It’s beautiful how in-touch you are with each member of your family, and meet their needs in the unique way. Everyone’s approach to life has critical outcome to whether or not they live life to its fullest. I say KEEP IT UP! And please don’t ever hesitate to share your life. It’s what makes your blog so beautiful and raw.

  6. My name is Jill, and I, too, shelter my children with pride!

    I believe that living counter-culturally and keeping them home with me is the best way for our family to nurture, instruct, guide, disciple and protect our girls.

    Thank your for being so honest and writing this post – saying what so many of us want to say!

  7. Kim Kim

    Me, too!

  8. Melinda D. Melinda D.

    Love it! I also shelter with pride :-) At Easter my grandmother-in-law whispered to my great aunt “You know Melinda’s kids don’t watch tv, right?” in this gossipy, shocked tone…. I was pretty amused :-)

  9. I, too, shelter (sheltered) my children with pride. And I have to say that having a 23 year old daughter, who now tells me “thank you” for not allowing her to watch and do things that weren’t beneficial to her, is the most rewarding thing as a mom. :)

    You have so much wisdom, Lorilee! Keep up the awesome writing!

  10. Nancy Nancy

    I admire your parenting And your determination to shelter your children so that they can grow into strong confident and healthy adults You have been blessed with a beautiful family. I hope that you will always be a close and happy family And that your children will always appreciate the wonderful mother they have…. Blessings!!!

  11. Thank you for saying this, I totally agree!

  12. Grand Grand

    Please know that your decisions are awesome and how I wish that we had done the same. Remember God has only allowed you to have those sweet children a short time and you do with what you think best.

  13. Leslie Blake Leslie Blake

    I love this!!!! I too shelter my kids, in a little different way. I send them to parochial school, they watch LIMITED TV, use the computer on ONLY limited appropriate websites. God granted me the gift and responsibility of these beautiful babies. I take that VERY seriously! Children are a gift, a treasure, they should be nurtured and cared for with tender loving care. More parents should shelter their children. It seems the world is in such a hurry for children to lose their innocence, and aren’t we told in the Bible we should come to God, childlike with the same innocence? It is a SCARY, SCARY world out there and it is my duty as a Christian Mother to shelter my kids and help them prepare for the world! And with the Grace of Our Lord I am able to do so. I think mothers of all faiths, at least those who try to practice them, feel the same way. Don’t worry if other people criticize your choice of parenting, YOU are the parent to those precious babies NOT anyone else!!!! God gave them to YOU to raise and protect!! Other people can raise their children however they see fit, but as for me and my babies I will shelter them as long as they need it!!!! (And be proud of it!!) :)

  14. Sharle Kinnear Sharle Kinnear

    Thank you for your article on sheltering. It’s a very under-rated way of parenting in a culture that purports to care about kids, but really doesn’t! The world needs MORE parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends to shelter our children and provide them with a loving village in which to grow strong. How else are they to sprout the sturdy wings that will allow them to fly when they are older?

  15. Hope Hope

    I’m well passed childbearing age but “back in the day” (over 40 yrs ago) I was trying to do the very same thing that you have so wonderfully suceeded at doing…. The world today is even a scarier place than back then. If you don’t conform to what society deems is “normal” or “right”, at the time, you will recieve criticism. Keep up the good work. Only you know what is best for your children and family. Blessings…..

  16. Thanks for that–I loved it! We do public school right now–it will of course change after we leave port in the States. But I don’t think schooling was your point. It is important that we expose kids to society slowly, rather than just throwing them into it because the television says to, or because everybody is doing it.

  17. Susan Susan

    Totally LOVE your article, Lorilee! AMEN!!!
    Is it just me or do the same people who criticize ‘sheltering’ parenting choices then turn around and marvel at how wonderfully these children are turning out? I can’t count how many times people have been extremely condescending about how I parent my three year old boy, then raved about how “content, happy, polite and well-behaved” he is.
    And isn’t that my job as a parent, in the end? To show him how to deal with life and make good, age-appropriate choices? Just as he needs help learning to deal with physical things, he also needs to be shown how to handle emotional, mental and spiritual concepts as he is ready.
    If I don’t do it, someone who cares about him a heck of a lot less will and I’d want to be sure I like their agenda before letting them in to do that. So far, Spongebob really doesn’t measure up.

  18. Christine Johnson Christine Johnson

    Hurray for moms who still parent!!! It’s so difficult to understand how people these days have children & turn them loose on the world & have no idea where they go or who their friends are!!! I have always been the “overprotective, old fashioned mom” to all our girls’ friends. I proudly smile & said, “Yes, I am overprotective & old fashioned but I am responsible for these two girls & I am going to stand before a Holy God & give an account for how I parent them & I take that very seriously, thank you.” That usually does it. It’s so sad that children today don’t have parents who know how to make the hard decisions & biblically parent them. Life is hard! Hurray for you!

  19. Good post! But I would really like to see your posts have share buttons for facebook, twitter, etc.!!
    My husband and I were also sheltering parents and relatives, in particular, made the same type of comments. But our two grown children (in their 30s) have turned out OK (even in spite of mistakes all we parents make)! And it looks as though the 8 (so far) grandchildren will do OK too.
    We homeschooled, had no TV, no computer (they weren’t really around then) and I read every single book before my kids got to read it (unless part of a trusted series). But as missionaries in Italy, we had contact galore with all kinds of people. They learned about even the hard part of life through our work with drug addicts, etc. But with us at their sides, showing them that Jesus offers a better way. Isn’t sheltering what parents are supposed to do?

    • yep! Thanks for your comment :) There should be facebook, twitter etc share buttons on the left hand side of the post. Maybe the page didn’t load fully for you, so sorry.

  20. Claudia Claudia

    I have been reading your blog but not commenting. Sorry! Love your writing style and your heart for your family. It so shines through! I loved this post. Love your ending statement! We are the only ones on both sides of our family who have chosen to shelter our children and also to homeschool. We get everything from annoyance to disdain, especially because we struggle financially, and I have an MS in Ed. Administration. They can’t grasp why we choose this lifestyle. Also, I so agree with Chiocciola Gypsy’s point about allowing our kids to experience life with “…us at their sides.” It is a privilege, and I’m thrilled to see a young mom like you who is confident about sheltering. Press on!

    • Claudia, it is great to meet you. Thanks for your comment :)

  21. Katie Katie

    Thank you for putting into words the things I feel but never know how to explain! Great post and I am happy to say I shelter my kids!

  22. Stella Stella

    I love this post although I will never home school as I have a full time job I wouldn’t want to quit, etc.
    Having said that I just signed up my 3 year old to a Montessori Nursery starting this September where he will go for a year, 5 days a week from 8-1pm for ridiculous amount of money – because I succumbed to peer pressure. Initially both me and my husband agreed to keep our son at home until he is 5 and has to start school legally (in the country where we live now)

    But EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE is sending their kids to “school” at 3 latest, but most start even at 2. I find that very unnecessary if not harmful (but hard to know, because EVERYONE is doing it)
    I always thought nurseries and kindergartens are meant for kids whose parents work full time and can’t leave them anywhere else, but no, these nurseries keep kids for only half a day and they are for ‘learning” and “teaching” your children to socialize and whatnot which I think it is ridiculous. RIDICULOUS.

    My son is a very sociable only child who likes to be center of attention, but he is of mine and his father’s and his wonderful nanny’s who is with him now when we are at work, but I believe he will learn sooner or later that he won’t be everyone’s center and do I really have to pay though my nose and do something I so don’t believe in, just because everyone else is doing it??
    I guess I do – for the fear that somehow I will harm my child or make it difficult for him to “survive” once he starts school.
    And I am pretty sure many parents think this way and talk themselves into following the majority.

    Sorry for the vent – I totally agree with you and admire you for standing your ground!

    • Claire Claire

      I just have to speak up in defense of preschools (the part-time ones you’re describing, which aren’t necessarily for the purpose of childcare). I don’t think they’re essential, and I don’t think anyone should have to feel pressured to use them if they don’t feel comfortable with the idea. But for some of us, they are a godsend. (And I say this as a mother who is seriously considering homeschooling for elementary school.) My son attended preschool two mornings/week when he was 3 and three mornings/week when he was 4 (from 9am-11:30 am). He is also an only child, and his social skills with children needed a boost (he’s good with adults). In another era, he might have done fine without preschool. But in this day and age, it is so hard to find a neighborhood with other kids that are home during the day for him to play with. I took him to library story hours, playgrounds, Kindermusik, playtime at the community center, and met some moms for playdates. But it wasn’t consistent enough to help his social skills or to help him form a real friendship bond. Even after two years of preschool, we still struggle with this. He absolutely loved preschool. The teachers there were so loving, the activities were amazing, and he had a blast. He actually “graduated” last night, and I’m still crying about it. Again, I would never push it on someone who didn’t want to go that route, and I know it’s unnecessary for many kids. But for us it was a huge blessing.

      • Stella Stella

        I know, that is what everyone says the preschools are for and actually the few internatkionals schools we have in the country where we curently reside ofr our jobs won’t take the kids in if they haven’t attended some kind of a preschool (and maybe if I knew how long we will be here I wouldn’t send him at all)

        To each their own, I know – but my “only” child who never had any playdates (unless I met for coffee with one of the expat mums on the weekends) had no organized activities and only played with a few kids in our building compound from time to time for 3 years of his life developed what I think are quite good social skills. I mean, they are kids, I am not sure that playing with other kids has to be learend.

        Having said that, if I were a stay at home mum, I am not sure I wouldn’t want a few hours to myself as well.

      • Claire Claire

        The bottom line is that every child is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. My son has a shy, reserved temperament which presents social challenges for him. He literally does need to learn how to interact with other kids. With adults, it’s easy. If he approaches an adult, they give him their full attention. If he says something to another child and they can’t understand him (because his volume is too low due to his shyness), they aren’t going to just stand there and give him another chance to make his point. They’re just going to take off and do what they want to do. He needs to practice those skills. Your son doesn’t need that, and that’s great. But there are kids who do. And honestly, having a few hours to myself has nothing to do with why I sent him to preschool (although it was a nice added bonus!) (I actually do work outside of the home part-time, in the evenings after my husband gets home.)

  23. This is so awesome! Tell it sister. This is the definition of what a Mom truly is.

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