If only we could keep our children in a bubble, point them to only the best resources and influences, and saturate their brain with nothing but truth. And yet, that would drastically stunt their growth and likely get in the way of all God wants to do in and through them. There’s a fine line between sheltering our kids and shielding them. So where do we draw that line? My guest today, Tessa Emily Hall, writes a helpful post that encourages us to point our children to Jesus. Read on–and be sure to enter Tessa’s giveaway at the end of this post!

Is Sheltering Teens More Dangerous Than Exposing Them?
by Tessa Emily Hall

unwritten-melody-quote01Is sheltering kids the answer to keeping them safe from the sin and danger that lurks in our world today? In effort to explore this question, I wrote a YA novel, Unwritten Melody. The protagonist in this story, Cassie, is a 17-year-old who has been raised by her overbearing grandmother. As a result of the strict rules, she develops a hunger to ultimately go against her grandmother’s wishes.

We all need rules and guidelines to follow, but could too much of this potentially lead to more harm than good?

Let’s look at the possible dangers that could result from this:

  1. Kids might long to break free from their bubble as they become desperate for “freedom”.
  2. Their walk with God could become based on rules and regulations (“religion”) rather than from a pure adoration for Him, wanting to obey Him, and an understanding of His Son’s sacrifice.
  3. They might not know how to witness to unbelievers since they’ll have no way to identify with them.
  4. If the kid is raised believing that being a Christian consists of all rules and no fun then Christianity might leave a bad taste in their mouth.dad-909510_640
  5. They might not have the chance to walk out their own faith without having to rely on the faith of their parents’.
  6. If the kid is resentful toward their sheltered lifestyle, when they’re given their first taste of freedom, they might rebel in attempt to make up for “what they’ve lost”.
  7. It might cause them to believe their parents sheltered them out of spite rather than love.
  8. They could become resentful toward their parents for keeping them from being “normal”.
  9. The lack of life they experience might cause them to experience depression. They might feel as though they’ve become a slave to rules, have no purpose in life, and aren’t worthy to live the life they’ve longed for. (This is a lie Cassie believes in Unwritten Melody.)
  10. It might cause them to develop a low-self esteem. (In Unwritten Melody,Cassie believes the reason she’s shy is because of the way she was raised by her overprotective grandmother. It’s this temperament that makes her feel as though she doesn’t measure up to other teens and has few friends.)

Since Satan is the ruler of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), we should be careful not to become influenced by the ways of the world. So how can Christians strike a balance between shielding and sheltering?

Encourage children to establish a personal relationship with Jesus. When they fall in love with their Savior and are lead by the Holy Spirit, they won’t have a desire to live a life cross-423157_1920that displeases Him. Show them that the rules set by authority are there to help them, not to keep them from having fun. And remember to always lead and discipline in the spirit of love.

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

Parents should introduce their kids to Jesus. When it’s time to let go, they should trust that the Holy Spirit will lead, guide, direct, help—and yes, shelter their kids from the danger that threatens to put an end to their faith.

Even when kids do become exposed to the world, they’ll remain much safer in the hands of Jesus than they could ever be if sheltered only by their parents at home.


Enter for your chance to win the Unwritten Melody Prize Pack! Two winners will be selected and announced on Tessa’s blog the final day of tour (Friday, December 9th) and will be notified via email.


This prize pack includes…

  • E-copy of Unwritten Melody
  • Signed paperback copy of Purple Moon
  • Unwritten Melody mug, filled with goodies
  • Unwritten Melody swag, including a bookmark, pen, and poster
  • Starbucks mocha flavored instant coffee
  • Free Unwritten Melody: Page-By-Page Secrets PDF
  • Handmade journal
  • Typewritten thank you note

*This giveaway is open to the US only 

Enter here:  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Unwritten Melody:

Does breaking free require breaking the rules?

unwritten-melody_webCassie Gilbert lives every day in the shadows of her deceased mom’s rebellion. But now that she’s seventeen, she finds herself longing to break away from her grandmother’s suffocating rules, experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager, and fulfill her songwriting dreams.

James Russo, former American Spotlight contestant, escapes to small town Willow Creek, SC hoping to flee from his tarnished past. When a school project pairs him with the shy principal’s granddaughter, he’s determined to get to know this Emily-Dickinson-obsessed and typewriter-using girl. His plan? Convince Cassie to co-write songs for his demo album.

As Cassie gets to know James over “project meetings” (more like opportunities to match her lyrics with his melodies), she becomes intrigued by his sense of adventure and contagious passion for music. But soon, his past becomes exposed. Cassie’s left to wonder—did she make the same mistake Mom did by falling for the bad boy?

Then, Grandma’s control pushes her over the edge. Cassie must choose between remaining in the chains of yesterday, or delving into her own freedom by completing the melody her mom left behind.

Buy it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


tessa-emily-hall_headshot1Tessa Emily Hall writes inspirational yet authentic YA fiction to show others they’re not alone—and because she remembers the teen life like it was yesterday (or a few years ago). The debut novel she wrote at 16-years-old, Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was a Selah 2014 Finalist. Her second novel, Unwritten Melody, releases with Clean Reads November 2016. She’s the Founder of PursueMagazine.net, a magazine that inspires teens to embrace their calling. She also enjoys helping writers achieve their dreams through her internship at Hartline Literary Agency.

When her fingers aren’t flying 116 WPM across the keyboard, Tessa can be found making healthy homemade lattes, speaking to teens, decorating her insulin pump, and acting in Christian films. She writes in a small town nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Southeastern coast. Her favorite way to procrastinate is by connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website.

Connect With Tessa on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.


livingbygracepic-jpLet’s talk about this: When our daughter was young, we sheltered her–in numerous ways. We homeschooled, and I was very careful about who she spent time with and what I allowed her to experience. But I didn’t do this on a whim. I knew this was how God was leading me. Fast forward to her seventh grade year, and suddenly, God turned the tables on me. He told me it was time to release her–to the public school arena. Again, I followed His leading, though I was terrified her innocence would be shattered along with her faith. The opposite happened–her faith and reliance on her Savior grew, and God gave her clear vision into her encounters. In other words, she began to see a clear distinction between good and evil, light and dark, and she was drawn to shine with the love and truth of Christ.

The key then–prayer. Momma’s, make prayer the most important part of your day. Pray for your kids regularly, and pray for yourself–that God would reveal their hearts to you and give you clear wisdom as to how to raise them. Because only He knows what they’ll face and what they’ll need to experience to prepare them for that. (If you and your group would like to hear more, ask me about my Parenting to the Heart talk. I’d love to come share what God has shown me with your Bible study/women’s ministry/moms group. Contact me at jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com to find out more.)

Your turn! How have you achieved a balance between shielding and sheltering? Do you believe over-sheltering kids could lead to more harm than good? Share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Living by Grace on Facebook.

Visit Sarah Ruut’s blog (scroll down) to learn where else Tessa will be on her blog tour. 

Sometimes it’s very hard to sit down and write. I feel like one of Job’s friends, tucked away in my nice, air conditioned house, married to a man who treats me like a princess, surrounded by special friends, and connected to a vibrant church, telling everyone “trust God and everything will be okay”. I know many of my readers are hurting, and many of them due to circumstances that are out of their control. You’ve done all the right things, said all the right things, and life smacks you upside the head anyway. And to be honest, I don’t have much to say. Oh, I could tell you that God is with you, holding you, loving you, whether you feel Him or not. And I could pop off a bunch of verses about how God will turn all things to good for those who love Him, but you know all that. In your head. But sometimes the pain is so deep, it blocks the truth from settling in our hearts.

Perhaps it is the sign of the times, or maybe I’m just becoming more aware of the pain around me, but ever since I started my weekly marriage column on Reflections, I’ve encountered numerous broken marriages. Shattered by infidelity. And to be honest, I don’t know how to respond to something like that. It broke my heart, made me sick, just to think about it. Caps left off toothpaste, socks on the floor, toilet seats left up, I can handle. Violated trust? Wow, that cuts deep. And it’s easy to blame ourselves. Maybe if I were prettier, more attentive, cooked more, cleaned more, whatever, my spouse wouldn’t have strayed. True, all of us could do a better job in some of those areas, but boundaries are boundaries and just as the bank teller isn’t responsible for the room full of injured people, neither are you responsible for your spouse’s choice.

I’m sure I’ll get lots of teeth-gritting, nasty comments hurled my way for this post, but that’s fine. My Mac will shield me from even the most rotten tomatoes. And I’m not saying throw in the towel. Nor am I saying hold on with both hands. What I am saying is I have no business saying anything, except run to Jesus and rest in His arms. He’ll tell you what to do.

About a year ago, a dear friend was dealt a devastating blow. Her husband was caught up in addiction–an addiction that was destroying him, their relationship, and her children. After much prayer, she decided to leave. It broke my heart to see my friend suffer, but what hurt me even more was all the “well-intentioned” advice thrown her way, clouding out God’s voice with human expectations and obligations. Oh, how clearly we hear the voice of God for someone else.

A few years ago Casting Crowns came out with a song called, “What If My People Prayed.” One line has stayed with me ever since. In the song, they ask, “What if families turned to Jesus and quit asking Oprah (or Melba, or Gramma, or Jennifer Slattery, grin) what to do.” This got me thinking, does God really need me to speak for Him, or would He rather speak directly to my friend Himself? Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God doesn’t call people to speak truth. And I am not saying that God doesn’t speak to us through others. I am saying, however, that He probably calls us a lot less frequently than we think. And yet, God always, always, always, longs to speak to our family and friends Himself.

So, the next time we’re tempted to pop off some religious mumbo-jumbo, what if we pointed our friends to Jesus instead? He’s big enough, strong enough, and loving enough to speak into their lives Himself. And yeah, they may make a mistake. They may even hear Him wrong. But they’ll be one step closer to their Creator, and in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? Learning to sift through all the garbage noise in order to hear God’s voice more clearly?

And for those of you who are barely holding on today, turn to Jesus. Seek Him out until His voice breaks through. Record His promises to never leave you nor forsake you on three by five cards and pull them out when the fears and insecurities threaten to overwhelm you. And know I’m praying for you.