On September 11, 2001, I faced the dilemma many parents experienced on October 7, 2023. My 6-year-old son and 4½-year-old daughter were home when the first plane struck. I was in shock. The images were hard to process and honestly, at first, I didn’t think about the fact that the kids were watching it with me. When their questions started coming I wasn’t sure what to tell them. I did the only thing I was confident in – I prayed for wisdom from the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly loving God. My husband did as well. Here is what He led us to do…
Keep their eyes on who God is and that He is with them no matter what. We looked at everything through that lens. For instance:
-Bad things do happen but God is with them; they are never alone. God will give them the strength they need.
-Jesus had enemies, but He loved them even when they hated Him.
-Pray for our enemies.
-Trust that mom and dad love you and so does God.
Young kids don’t need complex answers. They need to know they are loved and that someone stronger is watching over them. The challenge is not to lie to them in the process. They are young but they aren’t stupid. If bad things happen, they know it’s bad. We didn’t downplay the hate and violence they saw on 9-11 but we didn’t dwell on it either. Help them focus on God and His power and love. Help them focus on how we can help those who are hurting. Help them focus on praying for those who don’t know Him and asking God to help us love our enemies.
Older children need the same reassurances. We can also begin having discussions about the complexities of the war and why each side thinks they are right. In the case of Hamas and Israel it boils down to their view of God. My husband, Brad, recorded a great podcast that could help you talk about the ‘why’ behind the battle for Israel. I recommend listening to it on YouTube: Brad Bright Podcast.
We all want to be reassured that everything will be okay. We want to be told we are safe, and no one will hurt us. As a parent, it is my first instinct. But helping children face the fears triggered by horrible circumstances and teaching them to focus on the only One who can keep them eternally safe is what will help them grow into strong, confident faith-filled adults.
As Brad says, “God IS the issue in every issue!”
NOTE: We have two resources to help you teach your kids who God is and why it matters. Brad and I wrote a family devotion Because God is Awesome! and we offer many free resources at Discover God 4Kids (4Kids) at BrightMedia.org.
By Kathy Bright
©2023 Copyright Kathy Bright. All rights reserved.