Whenever there’s tragedy like the shootings that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, everyone starts wondering what to tell their kids about what happened. People start asking how a loving God could allow such an evil thing to take place. So often people start to question their faith in such a God, but they do so because their faith is weak.
One way of talking to our children about such a horrendous event is seen in the advice given by Dr. Joanne Plescia, Director of Special Services for the Collingswood Public School District in New Jersey. Plescia offered these four tips to parents and school officials:
- “If they didn’t ask questions, it’s okay.” She suggests that families don’t watch the news for the next couple of days to shelter their children from the tragedy and not to bring it up as a topic of conversation.
- “Whatever types of questions they have help them to express those questions in a calm way.” She says that if the parent is not calm then the child won’t be calm either. If necessary find another adult who can remain calm about the situation to talk to the child.
- “If they have fears, let them talk about it, addressing whatever issues they have.” She suggests that you tell your children that yes it was a terrible thing but that you as a parent are doing everything possible to keep them safe and that it is nothing they should be afraid of.
- “What you can’t say is, I promise nothing bad will happen to you.” Reassure the child that you as a parent and the school are doing everything possible to help keep them safe.
I’m sure that Sandy Hook School will bring in grief counselors as always to help the children cope with the grief of the loss of their classmates, but rarely does anyone give the only true comfort in times such as these.
I completely disagree with Dr. Plescia in her 1st point about not discussing it unless the children do. Death is a part of life just as breathing, eating, sleeping, walking, talking and birth. Too many parents hide deaths from their children which is why many of them have such difficulty coping with the death of a friend or loved one.
I believe it’s important to talk about death with children of all ages as it is also an important part of our faith. I took this opportunity to talk to my granddaughter about death. I started with Genesis 3 and how Adam sinned and how that sin brought death into the world and how that death separates us from God. I then shared with her that since we are all descendants of Adam we are all sinners and that sinners do bad things like what happened Connecticut. I also shared with her that many people don’t know Jesus or God and really don’t know any different than to commit such bad things.
I showed her the promise that God gave Adam and Eve of the Messiah to come to provide a means for our salvation and to restore our relationship with Him. I then took her to the New Testament is shared with her this Christmas season about the birth of Jesus Christ. Then taking her to the end of the book of Matthew and sharing with her how Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross and died a horrible and painful death for our sins. It is only through the death of Jesus Christ that we have any hope of salvation to spend eternity with God as opposed to eternity without God in hell.
I believe it’s important to use the tragedies that happen in Connecticut and other places to demonstrate how man brought evil into the world and that it’s man’s fault and not God’s. I also believe that it is important to use this as a method to present the gospel of Jesus Christ and to witness to those who do not have that hope of salvation, the hope of redemption, the hope of eternity.