Here is a resource that we used after the 9/11/01 tragedy. I am not sure how much of it I wrote and how much I used from another source. So, I won't claim any of it as my own, but I hope it will help you talk about this and other tragedies with your children. I hope it will be an encouragement to you as parents try to talk to their children about the tragedy in Boston today:
Tuesday was a day that scarred our country and the images will scar our memories forever. There is no way to erase these memories from our minds or our children’s minds. Know that God is in control (Dan. 4:35, Is.44: 8,45:5,6,21, Pr.21:1) and He is the only one that can bring peace and security to us and our children. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Knowing that peace only comes from God, what can we as parents do to help our children and one another deal with this tragedy? Here are some suggestions that may help.
1- Pray often. Pray before you discuss this with your children. Pray with your children about the tragedy. Pray for your children to be able to trust God through it. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
2- Be calm. Show your children that this is a tragedy, but that your faith in God is still strong and you are not afraid. If you are afraid, explain what you are afraid of and why. Be specific.- DZ (1 John 4:18)
3- Be completely truthful. You don’t have to tell your children everything, but everything you tell them must be completely true. Do not conjecture about the culprits or about survivors or the response of the country. Just speak of the truth as best you know it. (Ephesians 4:25) “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”
4- Be honest but explain to children only as much as they can handle. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” Toddlers will only know that something is wrong, but no details. 4-6 year olds may understand that there was a crash and that people are hurt, but they need not know about terrorism or hate or death. Older elementary students will hear more, but certainly try to keep them as much as possible from seeing the TV images, which may give them nightmares. Junior high students and less mature high school students will understand everything and want to see the images, but will not internalize it as much. They will need to talk about it and will focus on details and information. Mature junior high students and most senior high students will need to talk about the details and about how they are feeling. Here it is good to share some of your concerns and confusion and sadness and anger. They will be having similar feelings. Allow them to express these as much as they want. They may rather express them to peers or other trusted adults. That is ok. Don’t feel shut out or try to force them to open up to you. . We must guard our speech so that we don’t say anything negative or hateful even in jest or casually in conversation that might point blame to “Arabs”, “Muslims”, “politicians” or any group as a whole.
5- Bring them to God. Whether your children are infants or adults, they need to know that when you are stressed, you turn to Christ for strength. Do this by modeling prayer for them, searching the Scriptures instead of watching TV. Allow them to see you receiving God’s grace and then share what God is revealing to you. Show them Scriptures concerning God’s control and His unending love. (Psalm 46 and Jeremiah 31:3)
6- Teach them that God is not taken by surprise. Then, teach them that the consequences of sin are bad. (Romans 6:21,23 “21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”)
7- Then teach them that if we never saw the consequences of sin until we died, we would be more drawn into it and would see only its pleasure. If they are old enough to understand teach them not to hate, teach them about the evil of racism.
8- Older students will also want to know what they can do to help. Find out ways that they can actively participate in helping. Donating blood, donating money, praying, helping out a local family who has lost a loved one or even serving local firefighters, policemen, and EMS workers. Show them that the response to HATE is LOVE, not revenge.
May God bless you and your family as you recover and allow God to heal you and your children from this incredibly personal and national tragedy?
Trusting God with you.