When to Keep or Remove a Child from their Environment?

March 23, 2023

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Today's question says, "When raising emotional kids, how do you teach your children how to not only recognize their emotions, but practically manage them in a biblical way, upholding the biblical virtue of self-control?"


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the kids that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question asks, "how do you know when you should take your children out of an environment or if you should just keep continuing to equip them to thrive within that environment?" Such a good question that requires so much wisdom, and that's what we're going to dive down deep into today.

But before we do that, if you have a question that you would like answered on a future Foundation Worldview Podcast, just go to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast and you could submit your question there. Also, if you found the content of this podcast to be beneficial, we ask that you would consider liking subscribing and writing a review so that more people can find this content and be equipped to faithfully disciple the children that God has placed in their care.

Now, as we think about today's question, the first thing that I think we need to realize is that every situation and every child is unique. So I can't just give a blanket answer to this question for everyone because the different situations in which God has placed you are unique. I don't know the situation in which you're living and where your child is going to school, the friends that he or she has the different just history of physically how they've been, whether they've been ill or well, their emotional history, all of those kind of things. So every situation is unique, as is every child.

So the answer to this question about whether you should keep your child in a certain situation and keep equipping him or her to face that situation or pull them out, the answer might be different for different children that are in your family or that are in your sphere of influence because God has gifted each child uniquely and each child has been uniquely affected by the fall. And so we need to make sure that we are really seeking the Lord and asking for wisdom that God would give us wisdom in the particular situation in which we find ourselves. We also need to make sure that we are seeking wisdom wise counsel, that from those that God has placed within our sphere of influence, we should be going to the elders at our church. We should be going maybe to a Bible city leader, to a good friend at church if we're close to a parent or grandparent going to them and asking for wisdom because as Proverb says, there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.

It doesn't mean that everyone is going to give us actual advice that we should take, but when we seek out counsel from multiple individuals who are faithful followers of Jesus and that counsel aligns, then we can move forward in wisdom that has been given to us. Now when we're actually thinking through a particular situation, and again, I don't know the situation that those of you are facing who are you're listening, but I do think there are several questions that we can ask ourselves in any situation to help gain more clarity and to really seek wisdom in that situation. Now, the first question may seem like a no-brainer, but I think it's really important. The first question is just what is the situation and what is going on? Because especially if you are the parent of the child who is going through a difficult time or is not handling a certain situation well, obviously this is going to affect you very deeply emotionally.

It's hard, hard isn't even an accurate word to describe it. It can just be so painful to watch our children walk through a difficult situation that can be the most painful experience in life for some people. And so we just need to know not beings actually looking at this rationally. So what is the situation and what is going on? Gaining clarity for yourself. okay, what is the situation that my child is in? What is going on in this situation? Why do I feel like this situation is not a good situation for my child? So just gaining clarity. And again, this can be a place where you can ask your spouse to answer the same question and others who are within the body of Christ who you respect just to gain clarity in the situation. Once you have clarity in the situation, you know what the situation is and what's going on.

Then the next question that I think is healthy to ask is, why am I desiring to remove my child from this situation? Why is it that I want to remove him or to remove her? There can be a variety of reasons. It might just be that I don't like my child, I don't like watching my child walk through a difficult time. This is really painful for me, so I want to remove them from the pain of the situation. It could be that you feel like the situation is causing them their heart to be hardened towards the Lord, and you want your child to have a soft heart towards God and his ways, and so you want to remove your child from the situation. It could be that it's a situation that you faced when you were a child and you remember how difficult it was, and you don't want your child to have to go through something like that.

It could be a whole host of other reasons why you are considering removing your child from the situation. This is, again, we're praying for wisdom and bringing in trusted counselors can be really helpful, especially again, if this is your child and this is a really painful emotional situation for you. Bringing in other people who love you and who love your child but may not be quite as emotionally involved can really help you gain some clarity on why is it that you are desiring to remove your child from this situation? So then after you've identified, okay, what is it that's causing to want to remove your child from this situation?

Another really important question to ask is, is this situation developmentally appropriate? Okay, that can be a really helpful question. Is this situation developmentally appropriate for my child? So just thinking of a situation that's probably happening for a lot of families, especially within the US just as sex education is changing so much in schools, having a 16 year old child in a health class where they're being presented with different forms of sexuality that deviate from God's good design, while that might not be a healthy thing for the child and it might be a situation to remove them, it's completely different considering that at 16 than it is at five for kindergartners that are being exposed to these deviant forms of sexuality. Is this appropriate at five years old? Absolutely not.

Abosolutely not that is not appropriate for a five year old to be in this situation where they're being taught that all of these different forms of sexuality that deviate from God's good design are good and should be celebrated. That's not at all developmentally appropriate and should be a situation where a child is pulled out. If we're talking about a 16 year old where we have already had over a decade of building up a positive biblical theology of sex and sexuality in God's good design, then we can ask some further questions on is this a situation that this child can handle? Is this one that's actually going to strengthen the resolve and the truth is this one that's going to cause them to actually doubt the goodness of God's design.

And then we have some different questions to think through there where for a 16 year old, there's some situations where it might be beneficial and developmentally appropriate and where it might be harmful and we should pull them out where if we're talking about a five-year-old, like absolutely not, is that developmentally appropriate? And yes, we should pull them out of that situation. So we need to ask ourselves, is this developmentally appropriate for this child? And then based on the developmental appropriateness, then we can ask ourselves different questions based on the situation and based on who the child is.

Another good question that I think we can ask ourselves after we've determined is this something that's developmentally appropriate, then is this difficulty strengthening my child? Is this difficulty strengthening my child because we have this false view, especially in the West, that anything that's painful or that's difficult is something that should be avoided, where when you think about it, think about building up stamina for running or for exercising or for weightlifting. Anytime we're doing that, anytime we're building up our stamina or building up like our muscles, it's always painful, but the pain in that is strengthening us as we're increasing the distance that we run or the amount of time that we exercise or the amount of repetitions we can do with a weight or the amount of weight we're actually lifting.

There's always pain going on, but that pain, if done in a way that is appropriate, should be strengthening our lungs. It should be strengthening our heart, it should be strengthening our muscles, and that kind of pain is a good pain. Now, if we have torn our Achilles heel or if we have another tear somewhere in our body, in a muscle or a tendon and we're continuing to try to run or to lift weights, what's happening there is that tear is becoming worse and eventually that muscle's going to be completely torn through or we might not be able to walk, we might not be able to move one of our limbs. And so in that situation, you continuing to go on when we have a torn muscle or a torn tendon, a torn ligament, anything like that, that's not healthy. That's a situation where we need to step back. We might need to have surgery then wouldn't need to go to physical therapy.

And so it's the same way when we're thinking about situations with our children. Is this difficulty something that it's difficult for your child, you're going to have to work through, it's painful, but in the end, it's ultimately going to be used to strengthen your child and get them prepared for life in this fallen world, a life of faithfully following Jesus in a fallen broken world, or is it something that's actually hardening their heart towards the gospel or is it something that's causing them to develop emotional patterns that are actually going to be detrimental for the rest of their life? So I think that exercise analogy is a good one. Is it a strengthening or is it a tearing?

And so I think that's a really good thing for us to think through because suffering in this life is a guarantee. It's a guarantee for everyone and particularly for Christians that because we live in a fallen world, because we've inherited Adams sin, because after Adam and Eves sin, God cursed the ground. Every single human is going to experience suffering and scripture's clear that go, those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. So Christians in particular will experience different forms of suffering. And so we need to make sure that as we are training these children that God has placed in our care that we are building up this spiritual muscle of suffering. Again, not in a way that's tearing muscles, but in a way that is building up this muscle so that they're used to, yes, life is difficult, life is difficult, and God is faithful. So I really think that question is this difficulty strengthening my child is a really important one.

Another question that I think is very important to answer is, is this difficulty harming my child? So that would be the muscle tearing or the ligament tearing or the tendon tearing because being a child is very vulnerable. I don't know how good your memory is from when you were two or three or four years old, but especially for little kids, being a child is very vulnerable because you have very, very little control over the choices that are made for you as you're a teenager. Being a teenager is also very difficult. Just with hormones raging and body changing and the social pressures, that's also difficult. But as a teenager, you have a little bit more control over the decisions that are made as you gain a little bit more independence, but especially for young children, it's just a very vulnerable position to be in. And so while we need to make sure that we are strengthening our children, those muscles of enduring under persecution, enduring under suffering, trusting the goodness of God in bad times, having a heart of gratitude in the good and the bad, learning to be content in any and every situation, we need to make sure that we are not putting them in a situation that's actually in the long run going to harm them.

And now this is very, very difficult to discern. It's very, very difficult to discern. Is the situation strengthening my child in learning how to suffer well or is this difficulty actually harming my child? And I can't give you a black and white clear cut answer for every situation. Again, would really encourage you to pray. Just be very faithful in prayer about it. Also, again, invite others in the body of Christ into your life to ask them for wisdom in what they see in your child, what they see in you. Because there are genuinely situations where our children need to be protected. There are things our children should not be exposed to. There are people our children should be protected from, and we need wisdom in discerning that. I would always have to help as a teacher would have to help parents discern these issues within my classroom.

Frequently parents would come in and say, my child just really struggles sitting next to so-and-so. And most of the time struggling sitting next to so-and-so was actually something that was good and was strengthening because there are always going to be people that we find difficult to get along with. We're always going to have challenging relationships in our life, and we need to learn how to deal with that in a way that's healthy. So in most of those situations, I would try to give the parents just different conversations that they could have with their kid. How can we love this person? How can we learn not to be so offended when they say something? What are the times when the child should come to me and let me know something? The child next to them did, just to teach them how to deal with others. But every once in a while, there were cases where a child was really being bullied or there was something in the child's past that I didn't know about that had made them particularly vulnerable to other children that were picking on them.

And there were situations where I would talk with the parents, say, I think you're right. I think moving so-and-so's desk is a wise thing. I would still say I think we need to talk with them about how to deal with people that are difficult, but there are certain situations where our children just need, they do need us to intervene. They do need us to protect them.

Then the final question that I think that we should ask that's kind of related to some of the other questions we've talked about in the past is, would removing my child from this situation be sheltering my child or protecting my child? Because there are times when sheltering them from something is protecting them from a really harmful thing. If we think about a storm, we're not going to let our children go outside in the midst of a hurricane. That's just not healthy. That's very dangerous.

And so sheltering them in the walls of our house, maybe even in our basement or in, if it's a really bad hurricane or tornado in the bathtub somewhere, that's really safe. That's really important because a hurricane, it's not healthy for a child to be outside during a hurricane cane or a tornado. If we never let our children outside the walls of our house because we're scared of them being exposed to germs, that's a sheltering that's not healthy. Because you know what? Our children live in the world and they need to be exposed to a certain amount of germs. They need to get sick a certain amount of time so that their immune systems can be built up and can be strengthened so that they can actually live healthy, normal lives in this world where if we just completely shelter them from all germs one day when they leave our houses, they are going to be chronically ill because their immune systems have never had an opportunity to develop and strengthen and learn how to fight off viruses and bacteria.

So we need to ask ourselves, would removing my child from this situation be completely sheltering him or her in an unhealthy way? Or would it actually be protecting him or her from something that is harmful, something that they're just not ready for?

I hope these questions that I've given you are just a helpful framework through which to think through as you consider the different situations that God has placed you in, the children in your care. Again, there is not one black or white answer for this because every situation and every child is unique. So that's why I would encourage you to pray and continue to seek wise counsel.

Well, that's a wrap for today's episode, but as always, as we leave this time together, my prayer for you is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children he's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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