What Will We Tell Our Children About These Tragedies?

Gina Butz faith, grief, hope, parenting 0 Comments

how to talk to kids about tragedy

photo by Lena Bell

Our kids return tonight from a month long mission trip during which they have been out of contact and presumably unaware of all that is happening in the world. I wish the only thing I had to explain to them is why people are looking at their phones even more than usual, to the point of running into other people and walls and such.

Instead, after sending them off just after the Pulse shooting in our own city, we have to tell them that while they were gone, the nation was in uproar over the sudden deaths of two black men at the hands of police. We have to explain to them that during the protests that followed, five police officers were shot and killed. There were bombings in Baghdad and Turkey that killed over 300 people combined. And last night in France, more than 80 people were killed during a celebration. Lord, have mercy.

How do we deal out this information? How do we help them understand why? Part of me wants to shelter my kids from knowing the horror that this summer has brought, but they must know. They must know because we want them to be people of compassion, people of the world, people who enter in to the sorrow of others and weep with those who weep.

Will it make them fearful? I don’t know. Maybe. But I know the path to peace is not to ignore reality or choose to only see the parts of it that make us comfortable, that we agree with, that directly affects us. We cannot hide from the truth, but we can choose how we respond to it. 

We can choose, as a family, to be people who cling to God. We can’t explain to our kids why all this is happening, but we can remind them that there is always hope because of who He is. We can cry out to Him for mercy, healing, strength, wisdom, compassion, guidance, help. We can be people who remember that this is not our home, He is.

So we will tell our children about the atrocities our world has seen this past month. We will tell them, not to make them fearful, but to make them aware that this is the world we live in. We will tell them that this is when we look up, not for answers, but for help, to navigate this world as people who love it well but hold it loosely.

We will cry together for the world. We will pray together for it. We will live, not in fear, but in hope, in trust, in faith. We will face the truth and respond by looking to the One who alone can save.

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