Talking With Your Kids About Tragedy

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Like many people across the United States and the world, my heart has been broken by the tragedy that struck Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 15. The sheer magnitude of this awful act of pure evil is almost too much to think about. I can’t stop thinking about, however. I imagine many other parents are wondering how to handle talking about this and other tragic events that may occur. Here are some suggestions that may assist you.
1.Decide how much your kids NEED to know. Many school aged kids will hear about the tragedy in CT because of it involving the deaths of children their age and the fact it happened at school. Kids they know may be talking about it. Hopefully, their teachers and administrators will not. Kids who are school age may need to know the basic facts of the event, but be diligent to protect them from the horror of details that will only make it more likely they develop major feelings of fear. Limit your own intake of the news regarding this event to times your kids will not be around. Obviously, the older your kids are, the more information they can handle. We don’t need to hide our kids from all exposure to the negative things of the world, but we do need to make sure we protect them from knowing too much at too young an age.
2. Be honest about your feelings. If you decide to have a conversation with your kids about a tragic event, let them know how you are feeling. If you are sad, tell them so. If you can’t quite figure out how you’re feeling, that’s ok too. Tell your kids it’s okay to be sad, confused or even angry that the tragedy has occurred. It’s important for you to work through your feelings without the pressure of having to know exactly how you feel within a day, week or even a month. Your kids need to have the same opportunity. Let them know they can talk to you about anything they have fears or concerns about.
3. Express positive things to them. Let your kids know how much you love them. Hug them. Write them a note describing something you think is special about them. Also let them know they are safe. Encourage them by letting know you will always love and protect them as long as you live.
4. Remember God is Sovereign. Sovereign mean authority. God is in charge of all things and He is watching over us at every moment. Even though God is in charge, He allows humans the free will to make whatever choices we want, even if they are bad ones. The fact the school shootings in Newtown, CT took place might cause kids to worry that God isn’t able to keep us safe. Show them Psalm 103:19 from the Bible that says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” Also, using the fingers on your hand, teach them what Hebrews 13:5b says about God’s presence. Using one finger for each word show them “He will never leave you.” Keep your faith in God strong; your kids will follow where you lead.
5. Pray with them. This is something we need to be doing each day with our kids, but it’s even more important we do so in the midst of a tragedy. Prayer keeps us connected to our Heavenly Father and is a reminder we are unable to support ourselves on our own strength. What should you pray for? In this event, pray for the families who lost loved ones at the school that day. Pray also for the teachers and administrators left behind to pick up the pieces. Pray for the kids in the school who may have avoided physical harm, but will suffer emotionally from the trauma for many days to come.

Parent Like Almighty God…Seriously!

I had the privelige of sharing with our church, The Donelson Fellowship last night, and spoke about the command of God given to His people in Deuteronomy 6.  My preparations brought me past a passage that provided me with a great lesson on parenting.  It can be so frustrating and stressful to parent your way through a child’s disobedient actions and then subsequent negotiations.  This little insightful passage for we parents is found in Deuteronomy 3:23-27.

In a very compelling direct example for parents, we can learn how parent like God Almighty!  That should get our kids attention, huh?

The back story of this passage is from Numbers 20:8-12. The children of Israel were known for grumbling and complaining often blaming Moses for bringing them out of Egypt.  At this time, the Israelites were thirsty, very thirsty and like literal children, they reacted emotionally to a physical need that they should have know God would take care to meet for them.  The people sang their too familiar tune of woe and despair to Moses who went to God to ask Him what he should do.  God gave Moses very specific instructions about what to do.  Moses was to gather everyone before a large rock and speak to the rock in the name of God and water would pour forth.  Moses was muy frustrated (very frustrated) with the people and in anger cracked his big staff twice against the rock instead of speaking to it.  This was in direct disobedience to God’s command.  God still provided, but his punishment for Moses came immediately

Check out the text…

 

 23 At that time I pleaded with the LORD : 24 “O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”

 26 But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 

 

Moses blew it big time, making the decision to allow his anger and frustration with the people he was leading and there was a price to pay.  The price was that God would not allow him to enter the Promised Land.

This is a situation that we parents are placed all the time.  Our kids are given specific directions about what they should or should not do, and often they will disobey  us.  How are we going to handle this?  I think we should do what God did.

1.  Provide clear directions for your kids.  Make sure they understand the expectation you have for their behavior.  God told Moses specifically to speak to the rock, not strike it.

2.  Expect them to obey, but be prepared in the event that they do not.  God responded to Moses immediately.  His first response was to take care of the task that Moses should have taken care of the correct way.  He still instantly provided water to the people, but He also immediately told Moses that He was displeased with his disobedience.

3.  Keep your emotions in check.  The last thing you need to do is explode to your children when they make a mistake.  God didn’t rain down fire or instantly strike Moses down with any disease.  He simply informed him that he had lost the privelige of leading the people into the Promised Land

4.  Stick to your guns.  In the Deuteronomy passage we see that Moses came back to God and pleaded with God to be able to cross over into the Promised Land, but God refused.   “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”  God refused to relent on the punishment because He knows the failures that follow inconsistency and an unwillingness to make a punishment stick.

5.  Express your love.  God loved Moses and soon after this welcomed him into Heaven and His presence.  When your kids blow it, handle the problem, hand out consequences and then love the fire out of them.  

If we do these five things with our kids when they disobey, they will learn how to act correctly and obey.  We’ll also be parenting the way God has shown us to parent in His word.  

Hang in there, Moms and Dads!