To read the accounts of the horrible mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in August 2020, is one thing. To realise that it could have happened right at our own doorstep is another. It was thus especially shocking to read the recent news reports about a 16-year-old’s plans to attack two mosques in Woodlands in Singapore.

What struck me was that the teen’s family were said to have been totally unaware of their son’s self-radicalisation. They did not know what could have motivated him to plan to hurt people of another faith.

The reports reminded me of an incident I had heard of some years ago, of a boy who set fire to his school library. When caught, he confessed that he had done it as part of an initiation to join a gang. This was shocking to his parents, who had no idea of their son’s involvement in gangs.

Psalm 1 was my constant guide when I was bringing up my three sons. When they were young, I often asked myself if I knew who or what was influencing them most.

Blessed is the one who
does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

(Psalm 1:1–2)

The psalm showed me that there is a certain progression in how people are led to wicked deeds. It starts with an exposure to bad advice, which influences the listener, who is then misguided and misinformed by those with sinister intent. This lands the person in the company—and activities—of the wicked.

Children today are widely exposed to information both real and fake. They can be easily misguided and misinformed, and be lured to interact with people with ill-intent online.

If we are always busy and do not pay enough attention, we may not be fully aware of what our children are reading and hearing, and whom they have been interacting with, both online and in person. But if we spend more time engaging our kids and talking to them, we might be able to spot any changes in their behaviour and thinking.

Of course, as human parents we cannot be with or near our children all the time. But God is. We therefore need to keep seeking His help to nurture our children. After all, it is God who gave us our children; so we can trust that He will and can help us in our roles as earthly guardians and shepherds of our children, to lead and teach them in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).

Our children can experience and live enriching and blessed lives when their minds and thoughts are nourished daily by God’s Word. The greatest help we can give them is thus to plant it in their hearts and minds, and allow it to provide the necessary spiritual nourishment to help them grow. As parents, we can help them “keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:8).

And we can pray for them daily, for this is our greatest duty and joy. May we, like Samuel, be able to say:

As for me, far be it from me
that I should sin against the Lord
by failing to pray for you.
And I will teach you
the way that is good and right.

(1 Samuel 12:23)


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