What is socialization? Socialization is a buzzword that causes many homeschooling parents to cringe. It is the question posed by family members. The concern is poised by your friends. This is the critique offered by complete strangers in the grocery store. Instead, we need to look at the issue of socialization vs civilization.
Socialization vs Civilization: The Socialization Fallacy
If your children don’t go to school, how will they become socialized? Translation: How will they know how to behave around others and not be weird?
Will they know how to talk to people their own age? How will they know how to fit in?
(You mean like be obsessed with fidget spinners and bottle-flipping. Or, socialized as in have your nose buried in your phone instead of a book. Or, so used to hanging out with other kids your age that you have to idea how to carry on a conversation with an adult.)
Certainly, the vast majority of the questioners have good intentions. Chiefly, they want to see my children have the social skills necessary to succeed in life. Even so, the problem is that the goal is for our children to be socialized.
What is socialization? Socialization means to be able to mix socially with others. A socialized person’s behavior is behavior that is normal and expected within their society.
Socialization vs Civilization: Socialized Children are Not Counter-Cultural
Herein is the rub. In truth, I don’t want my children to be socialized.
On the contrary, we don’t want them to act the way a lot of their peers do. A lot of the behavior and attitudes that are prevalent in our society, we don’t want them to see as normal.
Socialized children are hyper-focused on what brands to wear and the newest fads. These children gravitate towards other children whose parents make, or at least spend the same amount of money on things, as their family does.
Socialized children think it is normal to be over-consuming and over-scheduling. Is it is beneficial to watch enormous amounts of screen time and consequently to take your values from what is shown to you on the glowing box rather than from your parents and family?
Socialization vs Civilization: Socialization Limits Diversity
Socialized children spend hours every day with young people their same age and stage of development with just a few adults seeking to mold them. Do we want really think that having a child shaped by the norms and values of children their own age is the best thing?
Do we want the values & influence of a fellow 13-year-old boy on our son to matter more than the influence of adult men worthy of looking up to?
Indeed, traditional “socialization” does not prepare them for real life. How many adults are only interested in people that are within 9-12 months of their birth date? My husband is several years older than me. I have friends that are younger and friends that are older.
Since we live in a diverse world, I want my children to be able to interact with all kinds of people. I want them to be able to lovingly play with younger children and to be genuinely curious and engaged in a conversation with an older person.
Socialization vs Civilization: Civilization is a Better Goal
I don’t want my children to be socialized. On the contrary, I want them to be civilized. Civilized behavior can be described as polite and well-mannered. A civilized society is more than that, it is one that has reached a more advanced stage of development – socially, culturally, and morally.
Indeed, I don’t want my children to be like all the other children. I want more of them.
We want our children to be kinder and more compassionate than other children. Subsequently, the goal is that they will be able to hang out with others who have far fewer resources than them and with those that have vastly more than them.
This ability prepares them to share the gospel with all kinds of people that they will interact with over the course of their lives. These skills lay the groundwork for more diverse churches as well.
Surely, we want our children to gauge people by their character rather than the brands that they wear or buy. We want our children to dress in ways that are becoming but not to spend too much time and value on their appearance.
Socialization vs Civilization: Raise the Bar Higher Than Socialization
I don’t want my children to fit it. By contrast, I want my children to stand out.
I don’t want my children to be like others. On the contrary, I want my children to make a difference.
We want children who are not comfortable with the current status of our society and want to change it for the better. We want children that advance their world to create a better civilization, not socialization to stay the same.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern
what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Yet, even that is not the goal. Yes, I want my children to be more like their father and me than like their peers.
Yet, I also don’t want them to be like me. As moms, we are broken and flawed.
Socialization vs Civilization: To be like Jesus is the Ultimate Goal
We want our children to be more than us, so much more. Our desire is for them to be like Jesus.
Romans 8:29 “…predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” This is the desire of my heart for my children that they would be shaped to resemble Jesus. The Savior is who I want them to be like above all else.
Socialization vs Civilization: How do we grow to be more like Jesus?
Read our Bibles
We need to read the Bible for ourselves. Having the Bible read to you and reading the Bible for yourself are two entirely different things.
We need to teach our children to study the Bible. They are very capable of this! They study books for school! If they can study how to create or fix something in Mine-craft, they are certainly capable of studying to understand something in the Bible.
Prayer is a skill. It is something we have to teach ourselves how to do. Just as we have to learn how to truly listen to others and think about things from someone else’s perspective – we have to learn how to apply those skills to prayer.
Unquestionably, the challenge in our culture to be still and quiet. It is hard to still one’s body. Self-direction is hard when you are used to having a screen or a voice directing you.
I have heard it said that some have a gift for prayer. That may be the case. Definitely, top athletes often have a special gift, but they also worked and trained very hard to get where they are.
You don’t have to be an all-star prayer warrior but you do need to pray. Prayer is for everyone and can be learned by everyone.
The world tells us to focus on ourselves, whereas worship calls us to focus on God. Absolutely, our children need to be in worship. In addition, it helps us with learning to pray well.
In addition, do not confine worship to the sanctuary on Sunday morning. Instead, we need to equip our children to worship God by themselves wherever they are.
Just as our culture is very adept at using music to shape and model us, use how God created us to turn your children’s hearts to God.
Intentional Time with Mature Believers
Unfortunately, hanging out with people just like us does not help us grow more like Christ. On the contrary, it just helps us grow more comfortable with who we are. We need to develop relationships with people who inspire us to be more.
Truthfully, our children don’t grow by hanging out with other baby Christians at the church in the youth group. Instead, they grow when we give them opportunities to develop relationships with mature Christians.
The command given by Paul in the second chapter of Titus 2 for older women to teach the younger women and older men to teach the older men is in sharp contrast to our age-segregated society.
Do you go to Sunday School with just people your age? Maybe you need to join a Bible study with a diverse age range to inspire you to grow deeper.
Courage to Flee
Finally, flee from those things that compete with these ideas! If you are going to change your eating habits you not only fill your fridge with good things to eat, but you purge your pantry of the bad things that call to you from behind its doors!
Purge your life of the things that draw us away. Do you need to limit your screen time? The screen time for your family members? Do you need to take a hard look at your spending? Do you need to take an account of how you spend your time?
Socialization vs Civilization?
Resist socialization. Flee from socialization. Choose civilization over socialization. Most of all, imitate Christ.