Re-Post: How to Talk to Kids About Tornadoes

 

This week our state was hit AGAIN by tornadoes.  Here is a repost of two posts I wrote following last April’s outbreak.

Here are my thoughts on processing this with kids through a Biblical world view and I’d love to hear yours:

1.  Be honest: Sometimes as parents our first instinct is to protect our kids from all of the yuck in the world.  Our kids need to see the bad as well as the good and happy.  The bad is part of life and part of God’s ultimate plan. To ignore that is to poorly prepare your kids  for the real world.  I’d rather my child begin to experience and process some heartache from a tragedy that doesn’t  directly impact her now rather than wait until tragedy hits her world, which it will one day.   These situations are good training ground for instilling a way to view tragedy through God’s perspective

Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about what is going on BUT do it in the filter of God’s word.  Be realistic, but don’t over-emphasize the worry and the stress and the helplessness.  Kids will take that from you and multiply it within their own hearts.  Talk about the circumstances so you can pray for the people.  Talk about how God’s people are helping.  When you hear miracle stories, tell those.  When you share something sad, pray quickly and specifically. Talk about how God is the

re and God is good, even when bad things happen and even when it doesn’t make sense.  God is always good.

2.  Be cautious: While you want your kids to learn from this, you don’t want it to consume them.  Don’t leave the news running for hours at a time while they are awake.  Don’t talk too much.  Do protect them from gory or sensationalistic details.  Your goal is not for them to get caught up in the drama.  Your goal is for them to get caught up in the God who will receive glory through this tragedy in one way or another.

Talk through fears and concerns.  Be reassuring, but don’t lie.  This is hard, but I want to always be honest with my kids.  When they ask, “Is a tornado going to hit my house?”, my first instinct is to say, “No baby, that will never happen.”  That sounds good and is probably true, but I need to speak whole truth to my kids.  I also don’t want to say, “Well, it could, now good night.”  That’s a recipe for nightmares all night long.

Instead I try to say, “There are no storms tonight – nothing is going to happen tonight.  And that will probably never, never happen here.  But God has a perfect plan and He is right with you all the time, so you don’t have to be afraid of anything.”  I do recognize that sounds too perfect parent, and I can assure you that those words were either preceded or followed by: “Who is going to get a spanking next!” or “Who put their toothbrush in the toilet?” or “Everybody just go to bed immediately!”.   This is a very real house, I promise!

3.  Look for tangible ways to help: Model for

your kids that God’s plan is for His church to be His hands and feet when people are hurting.  Model that as believers we don’t just fret, we move into action.  Giving money and stuff is great and this is a great example for your kids.  Also look for ways to get kids more actively involved.

–   Go to a shelter and let your kids hand out water.

–    Our ministry is collecting teddy bears for young victims.  Allow your child to pick out the teddy bear and pray over it before giving it away.

–    Pray for specific communities as you look at pictures online.

–  Challenge kids to think of ways to raise their own money to help those in need.

Why do bad things happen?

–  All bad things really come from sin being in the world.  The world was perfect.  But sin didn’t just affect people, sin hurt the whole world, including nature and creation.  (Romans 8:19-21)  This doesn’t mean that the people hit by tornadoes sinned.  It just means that our whole world is messed up by sin.  Sin is that bad.

–  God allows good and bad to happen to all people.  Bad people experience God’s grace and goodness, and bad affects all people too.  Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t.”

Why did God let tornadoes hurt peop

le?

–  God’s plans are different than ours.  We will never totally understand the why behind much of what He does.  Sometimes we can look back and see.  Some answers we will never know on this earth.   Isaiah 55:9 says, “The heavens are higher than the earth. And my ways are higher than your ways.  My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

–  His main goal is not for people to be happy.  His main goal is to bring people to Himself for His glory.  Romans 8:28 says that we works ALL things together for good.  And that good is His ultimate good. Not just what makes us happy.

–  Suffering is a part of everyone’s life.  Suffering is also a tool that God uses to bring people to Him. Lots of people don’t listen to Him until they have to.  Romans 5:2-4 tells us that God can sometimes use suffering to make us more like Him.

Did God not protect those people?  Will He not protect me?

–  God does protect us and keep us safe.  Help your child think of many, many times that he/she or your family could have been injured or injured more than they were or healed quickly.  God does take care of us.  Psalm 91 is an excellent reminder of this.

–  There are times that God allows bad things to come into our lives.  But He never leaves us alone.  Never.  Even in scary, dangerous times, even if we get h

urt, we do not have to go through it alone (Isaiah 41:10).

–  In God’s eyes, death is not the worst thing that can happen to His people.  Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.”  Death means God’s people go to Heaven and live with Him.  This is good.  Not bad.  If we believe in Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of dying.  We know we will go to Heaven.

Don’t things like this mean that God isn’t really good or kind?

–  Absolutely not.  God is always good.  Always.  Even when we don’t understand it.  He always does the best thing.  Again, it might not be the best thing for us as individuals, but it is the best thing for His plan.   (Psalm 107:1Nahum 1:72 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Should we help people?

–  Absolutely and that is one of the good things that comes out of the tragedies.  One of the jobs of God’s church is to help other people in times of need.  Help your kids see that our responsibility is to pray hard and to help as much as we can.  Hebrews 13:16 says,
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”  By doing this, we share God’s love.

 

This is in no way comprehensive or implying that I understand it all either.  I say “I don’t know” an awful lot.  My fallback answer is always, “Baby, I just don’t know, but I do know that God is good, He is big, and He loves each of us so much.”

 

 

What advice do you have for all of us who are helping our kids walk through these tough times?

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