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Socialization for Kids

     I heard a talk about how our children learn socialization from a veteran homeschooler and would like to share some of her ideas with you.  She defined socialization as the process of teaching children “what they should believe and how they should behave.”

     There are several questions which come to mind that a concerned parent should ask. 

  1. By whom should socialization occur?
  2. In what way should socialization take place?
  3. What kind of behavior is acceptable or not?
  4. Who determines what behaviors are “acceptable “ - peers or adults?
  5. Whose values are absorbed during the socialization process?
  6. How does my child develop self-worth?

     I believe that there are two distinct plans of action in socialization: man’s plan and God’s plan.  Man’s plan consists of spending large amounts of time with same-age peers.  The behaviors displayed in such groups include rivalry, ridicule and put-downs, a decided lack of manners and common courtesy, and brutal demands for conformity. 

     Watch any group at the playground or during free time.   This behavior becomes the standard of performance, and peer pressure enforces group conformity.  Have you seen how groups of children tend to dress alike and eventually act alike?

     An excellent, though extreme, example of the ultimate result of peer pressure is found in the novel The Lord of the Flies, by Nobel prize winning author, William Golding.  An excellent Scriptural example is the response of Rehoboam in the twelfth chapter of I Kings, verses 6 – 15.  Verse 8 says it all:  “But he [Rehoboam] forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.” (NASB)  The result of his acceptance of their foolish advice was the rebellion and division of David’s and Solomon’s empire into Judah and Israel.

     I believe what God designed and wanted for us is opposed to this plan.  He wanted children to spend a lot of time with their parents.  In Deuteronomy 6, parents are exhorted to teach their children throughout the day, in various circumstances as the situation allows.  As Jesus (our model) was growing up, he spent time with his father and brothers learning carpentry.  How many children have learned about their father’s job or even hobbies?  Jesus also observed his mother in her nurturing role in the home.  Further education occurred at the local synagogue, where He learned Jewish Scriptures.  In short, Jesus received teaching, training and discipline by adults.  Adult interaction freed Him to be a creative individual.  Parental influence fosters security, confidence, and a positive self-worth.

     I believe that children adopt the standard and their measure of self-worth by the person or group with whom they have the most meaningful interactions.

     Nowadays, we have other “teachers” that instill values, such as television, motion pictures and celebrities.  Media specialists subtly plant and sustain ideas that will eventually change society’s thoughts and attitudes.  Have you noticed how the concept of family has changed?  It is no longer a father and a mother, but just a group of people living together who have a common feeling towards each other. 

     Friends, classmates, and peers still function as effective values teachers.  They determine what is "cool" or "neat" or "hip" to say or do or wear.  Magazines, books, and textbooks visually convey values.  Musicaly lyrics, as well as how celebrities dress and act in public can deeply affect our children.  Childcare givers and their beliefs can influence the children when parents are not present.  Yes, classroom teachers, Scout leaders, club advisors, Sunday School teachers, and Youth Pastors also reveal standards of behavior (though, admittedly, not all necessarily positive).  Finally, we as parents have a profound effect on our children.

     Have you ever wondered how “genius” is defined?  The Smithsonian published a recipe on how to produce a genius:

  1. Children must spend a great deal of time with loving and educationally-minded parents
  2. Children must spend a large amount of time in free exploration –to explore a forest, ride bicycles,  camping, collecting rocks, shells, etc. , explore beaches, mountains, valleys, etc.
  3.  Children must have little association with peers!

     Two of the three parts of this "recipe" concern with whom a child spends time.  The result of the choice will be either genius or medicority, wisdom or foolishness, life or death.

            Please write to me and tell me your opinions.  Blessings.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Patricia Stevens

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