Telling Kids about Tragedy

Friday was a terrible day for Newtown, Connecticut and for our country. All of us felt pain, sadness, grief, anger and more. As parents, we all wanted to pick up our kids from school, hold them a little tighter, and never let them leave our sight again.

Words have been flying about gun control, mental illness, school security, and the like.

And I, like many of you I am sure, just kept trying to figure out how to tell my kids. I wanted them to know, but I didn’t want them to be afraid.

So this is what I told them.

  1. Always listen to your teachers. If they tell you to run, to hide, to be quiet or anything like that, just do it. No questions asked. They are looking out for you. They are trying to protect you. Listen to them and do what they say.
  2. Life is uncertain. We don’t know if we will survive the day. That is why we always live life to the glory of God, and one that is in right relationship with Him.
  3. Life is uncertain. No one knows if they will survive the day. That is why we always live life to the glory of God and SHARE that hope with those around us. We offer them the same certainty of eternal life that we have through Jesus Christ.
  4. Many parents are scared. They don’t want to send their kids back to school. They want to keep them close. They are living in fear. I love you (my children) and I don’t want to lose you. But I will not live a life hampered by fear and worry. I have entrusted you to God’s care, and if something happens to you, I will be sad. I will be grief-stricken. I will be devastated. But I will be okay. God will see me through. He has seen me through many heartaches in my life and he would see me through that. Jesus came so that we could live life to the full, not so we would be bound by fear and worry. That doesn’t mean I am not concerned for your well-being and safety, it just means I will not allow myself to be trapped in a cycle of fear and worry.
  5. I don’t want you to be scared either. I will do my best as a parent to keep you safe. Your teachers will do the same. You need to be aware that bad things happen in this world, and they could happen to you, but you do not need to fear them, because
  6. even though bad things happen, our God can redeem them. That doesn’t mean that he makes the bad things seem good. That doesn’t mean that it is a good thing when children die. It means that God can bring good out of any situation. He can use any circumstance to bring glory to Him. When my niece Vivian died after only 6 days of life, that wasn’t good in any way, shape, or form. But the way God has been able to use my sister, Stephanie, in the lives of other women who have lost children is good, and has brought much glory to God.
  7. I love you.

I have hugged them a little more. I have said I love you more often. I have smiled more and got on their case a little less.

I have been reminded that life is fleeting and we need to live life to the fullest.

And I am thankful to my God, who has blessed me with this life, with this family, and with these friends at this time.

I pray that we all would hold on to these things, pray for the families that have lost much, pray for the children and teachers left who are afraid, and speak with kindness and love for one another in the days ahead.

 

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