Over the past month our children have heard about, seen pictures of, and most likely worried about the devastating earthquakes that have hit Haiti and Chile. Below are some points that I encourage you to use with parents of the kids in your ministry.
Be Talkative: Talk with your children. Include them, when appropriate, in family discussions regarding the crisis. Find opportunities to talk to your child about the situation (around the dinner table, when “tucking” in your child for bed, in the car while driving to school). Most children are talkative by nature. Take advantage of this time in their lives to share.
Be Honest: Tell the truth. Don’t deny that something bad has happened. Be honest with yourself. Recognize your own feelings. Understand that you have feelings regarding the crisis. Know how you feel and understand that your feelings play a part in shaping your child’s feelings.
Be Respectful: Ask your child how he/she feels about the crisis and be respectful of his/her feelings. Give your child permission to feel the feelings which they have.
Be Age-Appropriate: Each child develops at different rates. You know your child and their level of understanding. Some guidelines to follow might include the avoidance of euphemisms and complicated explanations. Answer questions asked but be careful not to overload your child with too much information. If they want to know and you’ve created an atmosphere of freedom to ask, they will!
Be Reassuring: Reassure your children that it’s going to be okay. Assure them that they are safe. Many children may begin to fear leaving your presence. Honestly assure them that their feelings are important and that you and those to whom you entrust them are concerned for their safety.
Be Hopeful: Support your child as they work through the emotions of the crisis. Expect them to be concerned but offer them the hope that we have as Christians. Explain that God is in control. He can use the crisis for His good. We may not understand His ways but we can trust His heart. Pray with your child. Teach them to seek God for their strength, especially in crisis. Allow this time to grow them as followers of Jesus.
BOTTOM LINE: World crises and natural disasters can be very difficult for children.
Allow this time to bring you closer to Him as your Deliverer and Savior. Allow God to use this time to bring you closer as a family. Use these teachable moments to demonstrate that the faith we teach is real.