It seems as though we were just shaking our heads in disbelief over senseless violence and here we are again. Boston, our prayers are for you in this horrendous season.
Far removed (geographically) from the Boston Marathon bombings, my children are affected nonetheless, as I'm sure yours are too. I realize some people feel that children should be unaware of such evils, but I'm not of that mindset. If we shield them from true pain, how else will our children learn to recognize evil and be equipped to respond?
Before you string me up for exposing my children to nightmare fodder, allow me to explain. They watch no news coverage, save a small snippet I previewed online prior to playing back for them. More often than not, ongoing live coverage is pointless to watch anyway (for adult or child). The same limited information is rehashed a bazillion times, and you begin to want to slap the poor reporter who is desperately trying to appear to have a new angle on what appears to be a circle. Hey big time news people, don't insult our intelligence! But I digress...The objective to sharing news events with my children is two-fold: Increase social awareness and increase faith.
Why should our children be sequestered behind bedroom doors with curt instructions to "go play" while adults discuss the evil exacted in Boston? Why shouldn't children be given age appropriate information regarding any major news events (emergency or otherwise)? I'm not a fan of dumbing down conversation with children. "Sweetie, bad people made a big boom and now people have boo-boos" is not something you will hear out of my mouth. Ever. "Girls, two bombs have detonated at a very large marathon in Boston. Lots of people are injured and there are at least two known deaths at this time. Let's pray." Much better. My children have enough information so as to be informed, but not so much so as to be unnecessarily traumatized.* Of course they have questions: "Is Boston in our country?" "Who did it?" "Are the hurt people Christians?" "What's a marathon?" Every question can (and should) be answered truthfully, but our time need not be wasted on discussing minutia. Our time must be invested in prayer. Our knee-jerk response to calamity should be that we fall to our knees in prayer. And why shouldn't those with the simplest faith and sweetest spirits be called upon to pray, shoulder to shoulder with their parents? Our children need to witness us consistently approaching the throne of grace when there is hurt in this world. Overhearing discussions in hushed tones and being instructed to offer a cursory prayer for Boston during bedtime prayers hardly models faith in action, and is akin to the reporter with no new news. Don't insult their intelligence, nor their connection to the Holy Spirit. In short, if we want our children to trust Him, they need to see us trusting Him. If we want our children to respond in faith, we must do likewise.
We haven't spent any more time updating our children on the bombings. There's no news that would alter their prayers. What we have informed them of are the dozens of heroics. There are numerous accounts of people rushing to aid, doing the right thing and being the stuff of red, white and blue. More importantly, the stuff of miracles and selflessness. Heroes and sacrifice. Those reports are worth our time and reveal beauty from ashes. Those are the stories upon which our children can focus.
Perhaps Mister Rogers said it best: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.""
*Notice how I didn't say "Are you fearful someone could bomb us? Do you worry about someone attacking us during a parade or at the library? Are you ever concerned you'll be tragically orphaned from an invasion?" See how we sidestepped those therapy sessions? Psych 101 was tuition well spent, folks.