Navigating War-Talk With Your Children
In a couple of weeks, the war in Ukraine has taken the shotgun seat in the emotional vehicle of American families as the pandemic is relegated to the back. How Christian parents navigate their family will determine ongoing values, mental health, and world view that their children will perpetuate in years to come. Now is the time to offer a road map as questions arise at the family dinner table.
No longer a “just turn off the TV” fix, children have more communication sources than ever starting at very young ages. They will be exposed to the war one way or the other. It is being talked about in school, on social media and at church. One grandmother reported her 10-year-old grandson demonstrated his access to Google Earth as he zoomed in on the countries surrounding Ukraine and quoted which countries were part of NATO. Christians who support missionaries or have friends in the affected areas are posting on social media. The world is small, our children no longer focus on the neighborhood around them but the global neighborhood of humanity, as well. That’s a lot for a child.
War has always been part of human existence. Sin is present in the world. Greed is prolific. Power drives evil to unimaginable lengths. The Bible is rife with stories of war, both righteous and not. How, then do we begin to navigate the map of understanding war with our children without further fear and unnecessary anxiety?
Focus on the Family’s recent article, “How to Talk With Your Kids About War”, gives parents some helpful suggestions. Christian parents can remind children:
· God is in control.
· God loves everyone, promotes peace, and hates evil.
· We are not designed to know everything about God or His plans. And that’s okay.
The important thing is to keep communication open with your children. Ask questions. When there is a quiet time, such as tucking your child in bed, ask how does hearing about the war make you feel? There is a balance between too little and too much information. Your child’s age is also a consideration. Avoiding labels such as “the bad people” and “the good people” recognizing that not all people who live in the effected areas are responsible for what is happening.[i]
Children have eyes and ears for everything. Guide your tongue and heart. Keep your emotions in check and your attitude Christ-like. Action speaks volumes. Help your children pray for Christians in the war zones and those who are helping refugees. Investigate where you can put action into play with raising financial support, helping with care packages, or adopting a child or family to pray for and assist. Fear and anxiety can be replaced with hope by putting your love for others into action. Place a map on the wall and pinpoint countries you want to pray for and study their lifestyle there. Help your children imagine children from those countries in their everyday life. If you have a known missionary, Pastor or church in that area, note them on the map and pray for them specifically. Though the world is small, we sometimes fail to see the individual lives that make it up. Jesus loves all the little children of the world. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8
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