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Talking to children about current events

By Nathan Rice

The images are hard to avoid, so our children are bound to notice what is happening. Whether they see a clip of the news on television, catch a headline online, or hear someone talking about the current events, children may notice the chaos that has gripped our nation.

The images they see and words they hear may be frightening or confusing. In a time when they’ve already had to deal with the changes brought on by COVID-19, it is important that we are prepared to answer their questions about what is happening.

There is no outline of a speech that I can provide, because each child is different. How you speak to your children will depend on their age, their maturity level, their background, and their ability to understand and process certain concepts. There are, however, a few things we should consider covering with them when the questions begin.

Now is a great time to discuss the foolish and sinful mindset of prejudice and racism that many in our country still hold. Children will most likely hear various thoughts on this topic, so we should make sure they hear the truth from us. It’s our job to teach our children the difference between right and wrong. They need to hear from us that prejudice based on the color of one’s skin is wrong and that racism is an offense to the Creator of us all.

Explaining the protests can be difficult, because there are so many facets to the story that it can be difficult for children to understand. Consider sharing the basics of what happened with a focus on the people who are doing the right thing. They should know that many of the protests are filled with people who simply want to see our country improve, but some people in the protests have done wrong things. A search online can quickly give you images of people doing the right things during these times that you can show your children while discussing the current situation.

Once you’ve discussed the problems and have shown them that there are good people doing the right thing, you should reassure them once again that you will do what you can to keep them safe. It’s not their responsibility to solve grownup problems.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything they can do to help the situation. Talk with your children about what they can do to help. It may be something as simple as encouraging your children to stand up for anyone they see being picked on by others. Take time to pray with your children for those who are discriminated against or marginalized due to racism, for people who are trying to help the situation, and for our leaders.

How little you share or how in-depth you go about the situation is up to you, and it should be tailored to your children. No matter how much you share, your talk should leave them knowing that they are loved, and that you will do what you can to help them. It should acknowledge that there are bad things in this world, but there are lots of good people still trying to do the right thing. End the discussion by committing together to do the right thing, regardless of what everyone else does.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.