How To Talk To Your Kids About Tragedy

Last night, in this beautiful city of lights we call home, evil took innocent lives. A gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Casino with malice in his heart. According to CBS News, 58 people have  died and 515 people are injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

All night I prayed. All night I tossed and turned, haunting by the images I saw on the news late last night. This morning I opened my eyes to a rising death toll and a broken heart for my fellow Las Vegans. One thing I immediately considered was how to tell me children the horrifying news. After finally sitting down to tell my children what happened, praying with my sweet babies and searching for answers in the wake of this awful event – I came up with a few tips on speaking to your kids about tragedy.

Be honest

As someone who has had to explain the loss of loved ones, pets and senseless tragedies to my children multiple times – I wholeheartedly believe in being honest with them.  Kids are fragile, but able to understand good and evil. You want your kids to know the truth, without the gory details. I always make sure to tell my children the truth,  without adding scary or graphic details to the conversation. Don’t lie, but don’t paint a horrible picture either. I told my children that a bad man, hurt and killed innocent people. I told them that evil is sadly part of our world, but that God is greater. I told them that they are safe. I told them that we will turn our eyes to God and look for his love in the actions of the brave hero’s helping the victims.

Let them ask questions

I always make sure my children can come to me with questions about difficult situations.  When my grandmother died, my son asked if our cat would be with her. “Great grandma will pet her in Heaven Mama,” he said in the most endearing way possible. Children need to have a safe place to express their concerns.

In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is to completely ignore the hard conversations. God is near the brokenhearted and he is there during tragedy. If you don’t know the answer to a difficult question, then just make them feel safe and explain the power of love in a dark time.

Focus on the hero’s

I always like to point my children to the good part of a tragedy. Talk about the hero’s. Tell them about the line of people wrapped around the parking lot waiting to donate blood. Tell them about the first responder’s who ran towards danger to save lives. Tell them about the doctors, nurses, paramedics,fireman, police officers, employees, bystanders, strangers and all the brave men and women helping others during an unspeakable tragedy. Tell them that God can be seen in the acts of kindness, the selfless strangers offering help and all the rest of us that are dropping to our knees to pray for every single person affected by this awful event.

Pray with them

The last thing I did before I sent my kids off to school was pray with them. I held them close and prayed for God to be with the victims, their families and all the brave men and women lending a hand.

Just sit and hold your babies, tell them everything will be ok and pray for God to comfort us all as we mourn, unite and eventually heal.

4 thoughts on “How To Talk To Your Kids About Tragedy

  1. This is devastating. I can’t imagine what it will be like when my one year old is able to comprehend tragedies. I’ve been wondering how I will even begin to think about these conversations, much less have them.
    Thank you for showing us all your grace and strength.
    Even in the face of tragedy, God is good.

  2. Cheryl says:

    I wish I could write as well as you, so I could express my feelings over how much I love this article. I thank God every day for the wonderful choices our sons made finding you and Shirley to be their wives and the mothers of our grandchildren. You are the daughters for whom I have always prayed. We are so proud you are using your God-given gift of writing to help others…
    I love you to the moon and back!

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