Talking to Kids About What is Happening in our World
My fourteen year old loves to argue. She’s actually quite talented at it, probably from inordinate amounts of practice. This week she shared with me a conversation she had with an acquaintance her age on Instagram regarding current events involving both racism and police brutality. Despite her inability to let a conversation go, I was amazed by the way she was voicing her opinions and grounding them in Scripture. Don’t tell her I noticed this part, but I was also humbled that I could hear some of my own words in her responses. We had discussed the situation several times. I was reminded that these conversations with my kids matter.
Our kids are not blind to the world’s events. Younger kids may not be debating on Instagram, but they are absorbing what they hear and they will discuss events events with buddies more than you might think. They will hear bits and pieces from their favorite YouTubers or eavesdrop in the car.
Discipling our kids does not happen in a vacuum separated from the rest of the world. Our most effective discipleship will coach kids on how the gospel relates to the real world in which they live and the real events that are impacting our communities. While it is easier to tell kids that issues like racism and riots are “adult topics”, we miss the opportunity to teach them. How do we handle such difficult topics with kids?
- Don’t ignore what’s happening. Sometimes we choose not to address difficult topics. It is awkward. We don’t want to scare our kids. We aren’t sure how much they really need to know. Maybe we want to protect their innocence. Those concerns are valid. However, your kids are going to hear about current events either on tv, social media, or from other friends. Be proactive to be the one who helps discuss it with them and guide their thinking, rather than let the rest of the world do it for them.
- Help kids feel safe. Everything is personal for kids. Their first reaction is to fear how events might affect them. Be clear and be truthful. Explain how grown ups are keeping them safe, but most of all point them towards God’s protection when circumstances are outside of our control.
- Limit how much news media kids see. I wanted my big girls to see brief coverage of the riots happening this week. Their kids may study this in history one day. But I do not want them watching or hearing it for hours on end each day. There is nothing healthy about that for any of us.
- Explain age-appropriate facts in as unbiased way as you can. Before telling kids what you feel is right or wrong in a situation, just explain the basics of what is happening.
- Ask kids their thoughts and coach them on how to approach the situation with a Biblical perspective. Before telling kids how to think, listen to them. Let them express their views. Ask questions that point them towards Scripture. If your kids are older, ask them to back their views up with the Bible.
- Remember that what matters most is helping your kids discern life through a Biblical lens. Our goal cannot be to raise kids who think like we do politically. If we teach our kids to view the world’s events only through a partisan worldview, we have failed. Politics change. God’s Word does not.
- Identify what Biblical values your family needs to dig into in light of current events. Racism is wrong. What can your family do differently and how can you learn more to better understand others’ points of view? Violence is wrong. What conversations do you need to have? What positive steps can your family take to be a light to the world?
The gospel is the only true hope our world has. May God help us raise a generation that engages a broken world with the bright shining love of Jesus.