How do we explain it to children?

15 12 2012

worried eyes

The recent events that transpired in Newtown, Connecticut have captivated our attention. Among the many questions flooding our mind is, “What do we say to our children?”

Experts are offering wonderful advice. What to say. How many details to give.

One recommended saying, “You don’t need to worry. If anything like that happens in your school, the teachers and principal would surround you. Police officers would come to rescue you. Your father, and I would rush to get you.”

Few are emphasizing the importance of how to speak to children. If a parent speaks those reassuring words with an anxious tone, the child will mirror the adult’s stress.

Kids take their cue from parents. Throughout my 34+ yrs. as an educator, I’ve seen evidence of that fact. Kids can tell if a parent is worried. They can sense concern. It’s hard for them to believe things will be okay when the adult seems fearful.

When I told my second graders I had multiple sclerosis (MS), they read my expression. Studied my face. It was critical for me to convey the seriousness of my illness along with reassurances. My tone of voice, words, and facial expressions all had to match.

God had given me a peace about my illness. So I calmly conveyed the news. Here’s part of what I said:

“It’s not contagious. I have good doctors and I’m taking good medicine. There’s no cure. It’s no fun having MS. But, I have a choice. I can focus on the lousy parts of MS or I can think about the Truth. The Bible tells me God loves me and will help me. When I feel really sick, I get a love attack…God sends lots of people to help me. I’m thankful for my family and friends who do my chores at home when I can’t. You can help me by praying that I won’t have to absent. It makes me sad when I can’t be with you. I miss you. Sad things happen to everyone during their lives. When sad things happen, it helps to remember the promises in the Bible. Let’s all sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ very slowly so we can think about the words in the song.”

Afterwards, I had the students write about MS. It was important to know what they understood and how they felt about my illness. I asked them to finish three sentences:

MS is…

I think God allowed Mrs. Chandler to get MS because…

I learned that when things are very sad or are very hard…

Their responses revealed they understood the illness. More importantly, they reacted very calmly to the news. Just like my demeanor.

Follow the advice of experts. Remember you’re the expert about your child. So, also follow your intuition.

First, prepare yourself. You may be in desperate need to feel God’s supernatural peace which passes understanding. With His calming assurance, you can approach your child. Ready to inform and remove fears.

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Why?

21 07 2012

We watch the bloody bodies coming out of the Aurora theater and ask why. Why did this happen? Why did one man commit such evil against innocent people? Teens, parents, children simply watching a movie.

Rational minds can’t make sense of such an irrational act. Yet we struggle to comprehend it.

Our hearts ache for those who have lost loved ones. For those whose lives will be forever changed. How can this be prevented from ever happening again?

The Colorado massacre brings everything into perspective for those of us who live with physical pain. Our pain can’t come close to the loss of a loved one. There is pain and then there is pain. When no amount of tears seem to comfort. When time doesn’t seem to heal the hurt.

Finally, we ask the question that offers hope. Who can help?

When things seem horribly out of control, there is One who is in control. Our heavenly Father knows what it’s like for a Son to die. He gave His only Son for us. So that we could one day live with Him in heaven. A place without such carnage as we see on the news. A place where God will wipe away every tear. A place where there will be no more pain.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).

I’m comforted by that hope. That eases my pain and gives me peace.

You might say, “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t know what it’s like to face an insane man threatening your life.”

My answer: Actually, I do know what it’s like…years ago my son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. For two months during a psychotic episode, he threatened my life. Out of touch with reality, with an empty darkness in his eyes. During those days, God provided peace. Peace that can’t be comprehended. How could I have such peace in the face of death? Because of Him.

Dear heavenly Father, You are able to comfort those who are in pain. Please bring comfort and peace to those who face physical or emotional pain. To those who struggle with fear and uncertainty. We pray for protection for the police officers who walk into danger on our behalf. In Jesus’ name, Amen

How are you praying for the people in Aurora, Colorado?