How to talk to your kids about Charlottesville and other tragedies (with a biblical worldview)

What do you say to your kids about the chaos of our times like Charlottesville, North Korea, Orlando, Paris, and others? You certainly can't ignore it and hope they don't hear about it. Here's a curated list of things to do and not to do, biblical worldview thoughts, and a few resources to help!

What do you say to your kids about the chaos of our times? You certainly can’t ignore it and hope they don’t hear about it. Here’s a curated list of things to do and not to do, biblical worldview thoughts, and a few resources to help!

Is our world spinning out of control? Is this going to happen in MY city? Is the darkness smothering the light? Does God even care what’s going on down here?

Can you imagine what our kids are pondering?

Whether it’s North Korea, Paris, Orlando, Ferguson, or now Charlottesville, the headlines scream at our children and teens.
Some may not give it a second thought.
Some may keep it bottled in, afraid that speaking of it makes it more real.
And others may want to talk it out.

Regardless of our kids’ response, there’s one thing I know for sure. They need their parents to help them interpret the world and frame their thoughts about it all.

This is a tall order. So I wanted to help. Here’s what this blog post offers parents.
(Click the number to jump straight to that section)

1-A short summary compilation of tips from articles that are well-written with practical advice.

2-A source for interjecting a biblical worldview on the subject of race.

3-A few thoughts on keeping the events of today in perspective.

What do you say to your kids about the chaos of our times like Charlottesville, North Korea, Orlando, Paris, and others? You certainly can't ignore it and hope they don't hear about it. Here's a curated list of things to do and not to do, biblical worldview thoughts, and a few resources to help!


1: What the experts say (5 tips)

This list is compiled from these four articles. Three are published by Christians (A,C,D) and one comes from a secular worldview (B), but offers some practical advice from trained counselors.

1-Educate yourself and be their source for answers or discussion (A,B,D)

They are going to get the news somewhere. Don’t assume they aren’t bothered by it. Ask. It’s your responsibility as their parent to open the lines of communication and keep them open.

Of the three options: isolate, incubate, inundate … choose incubate. Teach them how to think while they are still inside your home.

2-Don’t offer simplistic or unrealistic answers; keep it age-appropriate (A,B,C)

“One of the long-term benefits of candid discussions with your children about controversial issues in the news is that the events often provide teachable moments because of the stark expressions of good and evil, pride and humility, wisdom and foolishness.” (Article A, ERLC)

Article B specifically says to avoid the “We don’t see color” cliche. That point is worth considering, and then combine those thoughts with the biblical perspective on race (below).

Race is an issue in our world. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. We should acknowledge the problem and offer a biblical perspective on both the issue and our response.

3-Empathize with their fears (C)

“Validating an emotion is the first step toward dealing with an emotion. Even if you can’t change the emotion, which you can’t. Or shouldn’t. Terror and death should never become normal.” (Article C, Carey Nieuwhof)

4-Know when to turn off the news flow into your home and your child’s world (A,B)

“Too much exposure “takes away from their childhood,” Sapp said. She also suggests having the conversations about what’s happening away from the TV and violent images, and in an environment where the children are doing an activity they enjoy or are most comfortable.” (Article B, LA Times)

You have the final say on all media input and device use. Be firm and strong when you believe they’ve had enough.

5-Remind them of the source of hope and the foundation of our faith (A,C,D)

“You can help them learn more about how God is at work in the world when you faithfully equip them to process the difficult effects of living in a fallen world.” (Article A, ERLC)

They also need to be reminded of the source of the problem: sin (Romans 1).

When I teach about faith and God, I always remind kids that God warned us about the last days (2 Timothy) and is not surprised by any of this.

2: a biblical worldview on race

Answers in Genesis exposes the effect evolution has had on our view of “races” and gives an in-depth discussion on what the Bible says about God’s perspective.

“God’s Word makes it clear that there is only one race—the human race. We are all one big family—all descendants of one man and woman, Adam and Eve.
That’s also why we are all sinners and why each one of us needs to receive the free gift of salvation.
Think how much our culture would change if we started our thinking with the firm foundation of God’s Word!
There’s no room for hate, intolerance, or superiority for those who believe what the Bible says.”
(Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis, What “Race” are You?)

You can read their book, One Race, One Blood for free here.

They’ve also created a short (3:30), fast-moving video here that I recommend:
Check this out: The Origin of Races

3: Keeping it in Perspective

When I was homeschooling my children, we found a quote we posted in our school room and memorized together. It’s interesting that it comes from a man who is often the subject of debate when we talk about events like Charlottesville. The quote is  from a letter written by Robert E. Lee years after the Civil War:

“The march of Providence is so slow,
and our desires so impatient;

the work of progress is so immense,
and our means of aiding it so feeble;

the life of humanity is so long,
and that of the individual so brief;

that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged.

It is history that teaches us to hope.”

We applied that hope to the biblical worldview that all history is written by the hand of God.

Here’s my point:
If you simply read today’s news or watch today’s debates or listen to today’s pundits, you’ll quickly become dizzy from the sense that it’s all spinning out of control.

But if you step back and survey history from Creation to now, you’re reminded that God is never undone and never surprised. He’s running a “long game” so to speak.

Even in the short game with the Israelites, he used impossible situations in one generation to build the faith of his people in the next. Think about the Red Sea crossing in Exodus 14.

One of the young boys in that crowd who witnessed the enemy, the water, the outstretched hand of Moses, and the “But God…” miracle was Joshua.
He heard Moses tell the people, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (vs. 14)

Fast forward to Joshua 3: a river at flood stage out of its banks.
This time, it’s not an exit, but an entrance God’s people need, with no way to cross over.
God tells Joshua to command the priests — carrying the symbol of His covenant — to go to the edge of the river and stand still IN the Jordan, while it was still flooding. (vs. 8)

Joshua acts immediately and the people follow without question.
Joshua has been in an impossible situation before.

And although the generation (save Joshua and Caleb) who crossed through the Red Sea has died, they’ve passed on their testimony.
This generation has heard how God made a way when there was no way.
And this time, the people don’t have to see God part the water before they are willing to dip their proverbial toes in the river.

Our God is a way-making God! Amen?
But it’s always in his time, for his purposes, and ultimately for HIS glory.

God used evil kingdoms to judge and purify his people in the Old Testament and persecution to spread his Church and Gospel message in the New.
He brought down the Roman Empire when it was time, preserved His Word during the so-called “Dark Ages,” and lit the fire of Reformation when he was ready.

We serve a big God whose thoughts are not our thoughts and ways are not our ways. (Isa. 55:8-9).
He’s also patient, allowing his perfect plan to work itself out.

This is comforting. But serving a big God means we will rarely understand his timeline or have full context for the events before our eyes.

Need help giving answers?

My newest course, “It’s Reasonable” puts parents in the driver’s seat for discussions about faith, God, and the Bible. If times like these cause normal questions to morph into doubts, parents may feel unprepared to discuss the defense of the Christian faith.

This course will help you answer common questions and it’s designed to be used without much preparation. All the videos are available through an online course platform and there’s a parent guide you can download to help you know what’s covered and how to follow up.

You can find out more at ItsReasonable.com.

 

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Christi

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Author | Occasional Speaker | Marketing professional ~ · ~ I write and speak so others know they aren't alone and are encouraged to grow in survival-grade faith. ~ · ~ Books: Behold: A Christmas Advent Journey and  Revival: 6 Steps to Reviving Your Heart and Rebuilding Your Prayer Life

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