Recently I had to give myself a good talking to. I was becoming overwhelmed with the amount of terror saturating my social media sites, on the news and in conversation. The barbarism and evil that we are seeing is so foreign and shocking to our way of life, that it concerned me as to how this would be affecting our children.
As mums, we are nesters. We like to know our children are safe and as soon as anything threatens that, we go into protective mode. Perhaps not so much of an issue for my younger children, as we don’t often watch the 6pm news, but my teenagers are well aware of social issues and it is a burden they shouldn’t have to carry alone.
I don’t want them to be completely naive but there are certain things that we as parents can do to limit the amount of exposure our children have to this information and give them the right perspective on what they are exposed to.
1. Let joy be louder than fear.
The greatest thing the enemy (whatever form that comes in) wants us to feel is fear and the greatest weapon we have to fight fear is joy. Keeping life as normal and fun as possible helps children to feel secure. The world around us may look very crazy but your home is your safe-haven. That is the place where you get to keep control even when the world seems out of control.
Keep your conversation light and keep a good sense of humour. It might be a good idea to have a day or night of the week when you do something fun together as a family. You may already be doing this which is great! Keep doing it. Whether it be a picnic at the beach or watching a funny movie, family togetherness is an enjoyable way to relieve stress and is a great distractor from negative thoughts.
‘Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah chapter 8 verse10.
2. Let hope light the way
Around the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, I remember hearing a quote by Fred Rogers:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always see people helping.” He then went on to say, “because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”
Hope. It is easy to be overwhelmed by so much evil but there is also so much good that should be acknowledged that we don’t always hear about.
As a parent, depending on the situation, I sometimes find it more effective to reward the good behaviour and pay less attention to the bad. While the bad behaviour still needs to be dealt with, it is in the rewarding of the good behaviour that encourages and drives more good behaviour. It also gives the child a state of mind to pursue and identify goodness.
Whenever you see or hear a story of how an individual or group of people have done something to help victims and have shown love, make it a point of conversation. Let that be the news article that gets the family’s attention. Reward the good deeds of others by paying attention to them and that in turn brings hope to our own hearts.
‘You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,’ Psalm chapter 65 verse 5.
3. Let wisdom be our guide
Reassure children that as their parents, you will do everything possible to keep them safe. We are their protectors and whilst we keep our children’s minds from worry, we ourselves still need to be vigilant. Shutting our eyes and hoping it will just go away, won’t help anything.
Being aware of what is going on and being alert to what we can do to help others is important. When there is opportunity to give – give. When there is a need to pray – pray. When we need to speak – speak. ‘…and after you have done everything – to stand,’ Ephesians chapter 6 verse 13.
Sometimes it feels easier to pretend it isn’t happening. It may not be on our doorstep or it may be, but either way we need to be wise in knowing what is going on, speaking up when necessary and guarding our hearts and our homes.
‘Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong,‘ 1Corinthians chapter 16 verse 13.
Australian-American pop duo, For King and Country, sum it up well in their song ‘Fix My Eyes‘:
I’d love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you
When all is said and done, it is our Father in Heaven who keeps us safe and who watches over us, so therefore our eyes are best kept on Him.
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders,” Deuteronomy chapter 33 verse 12.
First published 8 October, 2014 for Christian Today Australia