Continuing our discussion of the influences of our children, we’re going to talk about another consideration in understanding when an influence is harmful: age.
Age makes a difference in how children are affected by their relationships and cultural exposure. Since my children are young, that’s what I’m most interested in, although older children might be more susceptible to certain influences that I don’t mention.
The secular American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television at all for children under two. Exposure to violent television in preschool affects children’s behavior during school age years. We might disagree on the particulars, but we err tragically when we overestimate the maturity of our children to handle potentially offensive influences. The AAP recommendations are surprisingly “protective” and “sheltering.” Sometimes the children of darkness are wiser than the children of light.
Influences are crucial during the early years because this is the time their habits and tastes are developing. That’s why I want my three-year-old daughter comfortable in a dress now. It’s why I ask them if their friends love God and obey their parents. It’s why I want them to associate having company with happy experiences now. We spend far more time developing good habits like teeth brushing and room cleaning, than we spend even thinking about helping children develop good spiritual habits.
Beyond a child’s physical development, spiritual development is crucial as well. I see no scriptural evidence that children who are unsaved are promised the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Yes, young children surprise us with their spiritual insight, but ultimately, they are more vulnerable because they do not have the Holy Spirit living inside them. Would you send your soldiers into battle without their armor? Not me.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:13-17
Tomorrow we’ll talk about some practical ways we can live in the world but not be of the world.