by Karen D. Koch
What to tell the children. . .where do we begin? I have no wiser words than many out there, but wanted to share from a homeschool mom’s perspective.
My oldest son was just 5 when the tragic events of 9/11 occurred. I remember my husband calling and saying, “Turn on the TV.” I knew it was terrible because he couldn’t even tell me what had happened. Like many in America, I stood, shocked, and watched over and over the film of the planes crashing through the Twin Towers. I waited for answers, for explanations, and prayed that the people would escape the skyscrapers. In the shock, I forgot that little eyes were watching.
When Mitchell showed me a picture he was drawing of a plane crashing through a tall building, I turned off the TV, and realized I hadn’t been protecting him from what he was too young to comprehend. From then on, the TV stayed off when my sons–5 and 3–were around. We talked about this the other day (he’s 21 now) when analyzing the events of that fateful day. He didn’t remember drawing the plane, he said. But I remember. And we haven’t had cable TV for years now.
As a homeschooling family, we are often able to control what and how much news enters our homes, but we can’t protect the children from all things at all times. We need to equip them to be salt and light in this dark world. But we can also often decide when and where these conversations can take place. As they get older, they will inevitably hear and know of the events in our world, but rather than sheltering them and avoiding the conversation, I believe we need to take a pro-active approach.
Jesus said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Some thoughts to consider when confronting catastrophic events.
- Talk with your spouse and decide how much (or if) to share the events with your children, and at what level of detail. As the children mature, they will be able to comprehend and discern events and will need your guidance to process the information. It may be best that we don’t share with younger children at all, or in greatly simplified terms.
- Pray with the kids for the affected people. We truly are unable to confront evil and tragedy without God’s strength. We need to model going to the Lord first. This morning I just didn’t want to tell my tender-hearted nine-year-old son about the tragedy. But I told him lots of people in Las Vegas were hurt and we should pray for them.
- Consider how to best help. Can we donate funds or supplies, give blood, support local churches on the front lines? Children need to be reminded that we can overcome evil with good. This teaches compassion, empathy, and resourcefulness. In the midst of tragedy, those who help bring hope.
- Talk about the spiritual implications. My oldest and I had a morning coffee talk about the wickedness of mankind’s hearts without God and how we shouldn’t be surprised at the evil we encounter in our world. We talked about fear and overcoming it. We talked about how Christians should respond with compassion, help, and light in a dark world that doesn’t comprehend the light.
- Teach the children to be discerning. News accounts change constantly when catastrophic events happen. Media outlets contradict one another. Pundits debate endlessly about the causes and cures for this world’s ills. We as Christians know that the root cause is sin. Sin and evil aren’t popular words in today’s culture, but the Bible tells us they are real. We need to be careful what we believe and what voices we are listening to.
- Pray over your children’s futures. We can’t protect them from everyone and everything. Let us pray that when they confront evil circumstances that they will know to pray, to help, and to overcome evil with good. May they be the light and the help for someone else in a time of need.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12A Prayer for Las Vegas on Ravia Zacharias’ home page.