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Discussing a tragedy with your children

Dear CPC parents – this was originally written after the Sandy Hook tragedy, but the advice is good. And I hate that we have to use it again:

Yesterday’s tragedy in Boston is unspeakable for  adults to understand, and presents an even more confusing problem as we struggle to know  how to discuss it with our children. We are reassured that when we do not know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us – and I am relying on that right now. Well, that – and the resources of some great faith based organizations. Below is a link to an article on how to remain a calm, faithful presence for your children during this time, and how to discuss these devastating issues with our children. Hold your babies close, and lean in with prayer for all involved.

Vibrant Faith Ministries, a great resource for families, offers the following advice for parents:

Talk –  Make sure you talk about your own feelings and provide opportunities for your family and those you care for to do the same. Honest sharing is important. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our anger, guilt, or shame. The Psalms are filled with anger, hate, and desires for revenge. They are also filled with words of praise and hope.
Talk to God – Pray with the same honesty you use with friends and family. God knows how you feel and may even have some of the same feelings. Remember, God doesn’t cause tragedy but is very present with us in the midst of darkness.
Move – When scary things happen, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode. This is a natural response to profound hurt or fear.  Exercise can help get some of the “ick” out of your system.
Reflect – Allow yourself to change your mind about how you feel and how you feel called to respond. Keep talking, but also take some time to journal or just be in silence.
Respond – Allow events in your life and in the world to impact you in a positive way. Spend more time with family. Advocate for change in your community. Get involved in the lives of those who need you. If you feel called to do something and that calling doesn’t go away, then take seriously your desire to make a difference and do it!

Here are a few other resources that may help you talk with  your children:

From Mark Harper’s Blog

From Linda Ranson Jacobs’ Blog


In Christ,

Jenny Cudahy

Director of Children’s Ministries


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