Parenting can seem difficult when the headlines are scary, or your community is hit with a tragedy. As parents, our job is to protect our kids from threats. This is one of the reasons why the phrase “Mama Bear” exists. By nature, we are protectors.
When tragedy hits, we might have more questions ourselves than answers we can give our kids, but there is an important opportunity for us in the midst of the chaos. An opportunity to talk to our kids about some hard things going on in the world. Chances are, they have questions about what’s happening and feelings they do not know how to express. If you are honest, you probably have questions and feelings too. Here are five questions to ask in the midst of a tragedy.
1. Who do we trust?
We trust God. He is on his throne, and no matter what is going on around us, we put our trust in Him. He is faithful and true. He is not surprised by any of this, and we trust Him. Ask your kids, “Who do we trust?” Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” No matter what happens in the days ahead, Jesus remains the same.
2. Are you afraid of what’s going on?
Asking this question may get a simple answer of “No,” and that’s okay. Let it pass, and do not instill fear into your kids, but if they say anything else, have the conversation. Talk about what they are afraid of, what they are hearing, and what they think is happening. You don’t have all the answers; sometimes, just verbalizing our fears gives us hope that they do not control the situation. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” Jesus is the giver of peace. Help your kids see this peace in the middle of fear.
3. What can we do for those affected?
This is a great opportunity to pray. Pray for everyone involved in the situation. Pray for the helpers and those who are moving in the direction of those in need. Pray for the families affected. If you have younger kids, they may not understand this, but for those who are older, this is a great time to talk about grief and the hope we have in Jesus. Psalm 62:5 says, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” We can rest in our hope.
4. What should we do?
Let your kids process and think. There may be things you can do right now and there may be things you have to wait and see. What we can do from our homes is pray. Again, this is a great opportunity to teach your kids about prayer and the power of prayer. Prayer is an invitation to go to God on behalf of others, it is also a way to posture our hearts to relying on the Lord. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” We serve a God that not only loves us but he also hears us. Help your kids know that the Lord hears their voice. Click here to discover 7 Ways to Navigate Tragedy with Children
5. Did you know that Mom/Dad is __________________?
Use discretion in this conversation. Know your kids and what they can handle. One of the best ways to open lines of communication is to find common ground. Chances are, you have questions and feelings about what is going on. Open up with your kids, things like, “Did you know that dad is worried about __________?” This may not apply to every kid, but letting your guard down lets your kids know they are not alone. We can point our kids back to the first question, who do we trust?
Who do we trust?
May this be our mantra throughout a tragedy. May we rest and know that Jesus is king and help our kids see years from now that in the middle of this, Mom and Dad trusted in Jesus.
Additional Reading: Parenting in Tragic Moments – All Pro Dad