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Grace United Methodist Church

A Message from Mary: Talking to Children when Bad Things Happen

It is all over the news right now. It is on Facebook. We are looking for people or things to blame. And I know it’s a real fear to think about what if it happens here.
I found myself listening to the radio and learning some of the stories of victims, and facts about what had happened, and then I realized little ears were listening in the back seat. So I quickly changed the channel to a Christian station, right as they were bringing up the tragedy and asking for a moment of silence so that we could pray. So I talked very briefly with Grace about what we heard and reassured her that things were okay.
My favorite advice-giver on how to talk to children is Mr. Rogers. He was a trained Presbyterian Minister, and he trained and studied how to talk to children. He said that when tragedies happen, and children bring them up, that you should ask children what they know. Sometimes what they know is an exaggeration of the truth. Listen to them, answer any questions they might have, even if the answer is “I don’t know why bad things happen.” Remind them that they are safe, you are safe, and then try to move on to another topic. If your children don’t bring up the subject, it is okay to not talk to them about it.
If you find yourself glued to the constant coverage and that you are beginning to feel agitated, it is wise to turn off the news and focus on something else. Read a book, watch a comedy, connect with nature, these are all things that can help reset your mood. Our constant exposure to these events can make us feel like we are a part of them.
Another piece of advice that Mr. Rogers always gave was to look for the helpers. Look for people who are doing good in the face of tragedy. BE a helper in the face of tragedy. There will always be people who donate blood, who rescue people, and pastors that are on the scene and in the days following to help counsel people. Take the time to thank police officers or firefighters for their service, especially with your kids, and maybe take a moment to pray with them or buy them a treat. Take the time to donate things to those in need or pack extra water bottles and snacks for people who are hungry. Helping others will help you not feel helpless. Look for the ways that God is working in this world and be a part of it.
Here are some of the resources that I have looked at:
And finally a few scriptures that you might read together:
Psalm 23
  1. The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing.
  2. He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters;
  3. he keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name.
  4. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff—they protect me.
  5. You set a table for me right in front of my enemies. You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over!
  6. Yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the Lord’s house as long as I live.
Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.
Psalm 116:1-2
  1. I love the Lord because he hears my requests for mercy.
  2. I’ll call out to him as long as I live, because he listens closely to me.
And lastly, take the time to remind loved ones how much you love them and get some extra hugs!
Grace United Methodist Church
1245 Heights Blvd
Houston, TX 77008
Office Hours
Monday - Friday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
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