My brilliant, nine-year-old son Asher has a vocabulary that may very well be better than yours. He is legitimately perceptive, downright insightful, and shockingly self-aware. Now, I say this not to brag (or do I?), and I certainly take no credit for it. I bring this up simply to point out that young children can often have incredible minds. Some can be immeasurably blessed by God with intelligence and understanding beyond their years—a reality that, despite their young age, should not be suppressed, and cannot be denied.
Each year for the last fifteen years, during the entire period between Passover and Shavuot, our family spends time together every day reading through my Messianic Mo’adiym Devotional book. The theme of the season is “growing to maturity,” and it is always a meaningful time for me to specially disciple my children in this way. I walk them through the devotionals, often stopping to ask them questions, as I help them to understand what the Scriptures and the teaching are saying, and how to apply it practically to their lives. Repeating this cycle each year is deeply rewarding, as even my adult sons find new insight and application for themselves in writings they’ve heard practically all their lives. But this year marked an obvious leap in Asher’s ability to grasp the concepts, and what it means for a nine-year-old boy—a future man—to be mature.
And yet, Asher is afraid of mustard. He emerges occasionally from his bedroom in a monkey suit. He still eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch. He sometimes imagines he is a superhero named “Super-Goat.” He’s been known to absentmindedly stick sharp, pointy objects toward his eye. He thinks farts are funny.
Because he is still… nine.
And that is why it breaks my heart that my young and grown children now live in a world in which an increasing number of crazed parents cannot just let their children be nine—or five, or three, or sixteen. They deliberately put their children in harm’s way. They inject them with chemistry-altering drugs. They mutilate their unspoiled, precious bodies. Deluded by political propaganda, sexual experimentation and Frankenstein science, they impose adult fetishes upon a childish phase. And these parents justify it all by stating that the children know their true selves. That their notions and emotions and self-perceptions testify to the real facts of their lives. That if their child says it or thinks it or acts it, then it is true, praiseworthy and immutable…
…that there is no way that children could believe in or act upon fictitious, immature lies.
The first job of parenting is to protect your kids—to let them remain innocent children for as long as you can; to shield them from evil and perverted things that they would otherwise never even imagine. Good parents do not indulge and encourage and support every single fantasy their child embraces (or a deranged parent says they embrace) exactly because they are children. For no matter how brilliant or perceptive or insightful or self-aware they may be, their understanding of reality is still immature. The truth is that children of every age need to be actively guided and led to maturity—a self-evident, inherently-understood fact that some parents are far too eager to exploit.
In today’s world, there are only two things that parents can do to protect their children from evil influences. The first is to be a gatekeeper. Monitor and limit your children’s associations and screen activity; choose to homeschool. And the second is to disciple your children from the Scriptures— repeatedly and every day of their lives (De. 6:7)—to wash their brains and hearts with the truth of God’s word, which “from infancy [is] able to make you wise” (1 Ti. 3:15).