talking to your children about tragedy

This morning, I managed to forget how to make coffee.

I knew something was wrong when the coffee maker started spitting and sputtering out hot coffee all over the counter. It was getting the job done, sort of, but in the messiest way. I couldn’t figure it out until I waited for the pot to finish brewing and peaked inside.

Apparently, I loaded up Mr. Coffee with a flimsy filter but no basket for support. The coffee was weak. The counter was a mess. So I cleaned it all up and started over. Luckily, I didn’t wreck the coffee maker.

talking to your children about tragedyI think sometimes that’s the way we handle talking to our kids about all the sad and horrific things happening in the world today. We are sure to use our filter of how we see things transpiring and how we feel about them. We watch the news and feel for those hurting.

But sometimes we miss the basket that is there to support the filter: God’s truth and His word.

It’s really important to have both. Your kids need your unique filter and outlook but they also desperately need God’s truth in the situation. Without that basket for support, things get messy real quick.

Here are some practical ways to navigate the difficult times with your children:

  • Limit media exposure. Choose where to obtain the information you need to understand the situation, gather the information, then turn it off. Preferably during a time when your kids aren’t around. Or if your kids are old enough and you have the ‘basket’ in place, watch the news with them.
  • Submit your fears to God. Yes, it’s terrifying that innocent people stood in the streets watching a marathon and a bomb exploded. And yes, it’s overwhelming when a tornado hits the Midwest. These things are devastating and scary. But you can’t let fear control you. That’s unhealthy. For you. And your children.
  • Grab hold of God’s Word for your specific issues. There is a reason fear is addressed so many times in the Bible. My pastor husband tells me the word fear is mentioned 324 times. The word afraid, 211 times.  I’m guessing God knew it would be a problem. I have specific triggers because of my history. I bet you do too. Don’t let those triggers create strongholds you pass along to your children.
  • Counteract culture with Truth. Realize your kids will get unsolicited information from their peers. You will, too. Counteract with Truth. Arm your kids with a verse when they are feeling fearful. Write it out for them. Remind them to pray and ask God for courage when feelings overwhelm. Do the same for yourself.
  • Be a part of the solution. If tragedy strikes in your community, take your kids and be a part of the solution. Volunteer to clean up. Offer to care for pets. Make meals. There are a million little ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Jump in. Because this is the work of the Church.
  • Finally … realize you are teaching your children, not just talking to them. You are training them how to respond in emergency situations. And you are training them how to respond to hurting people. What a huge responsibility. And what a huge gift.the whole earth is full of his glory isaiah 6

This is one of my best ‘fear’ verses: Isaiah 6:3

When the world seems wildly out of control, the whole earth is still full of His glory. The whole earth. His glory. Because of this, I embrace the future.

What ‘fear’ verse do you lean into when life is scary?