Events like the terrible massacre of innocent people in Christchurch last week can leave us feeling shaken. Our children might feel that their world isn’t quite the safe place they thought it was. Constant media coverage means that we can’t hide what happened from them, and neither should we. However, we do have a choice about how much bad news we expose both ourselves and our children to. While we might have an insatiable desire to know what happened, we do need to be wary of overexposure to reporting about the tragedy. Very small children may not realize that the constant news is about one incident, and can feel that this is happening in lots of places. Avoid listening to, watching or going into unnecessary graphic detail as repeated exposure to both imagery and audio descriptions can increase anxiety.
Encourage children to identify and name any emotions they might be feeling about it all. One child might feel anxious or fearful, while another may feel anger towards the perpetrator or even angry with God for allowing it to happen. There’s nothing wrong with any emotion, and it is helpful for children to talk about their feelings in a safe place with a parent. Please remember too that children take their cues from their parents – if you are overly anxious or angry, your child may well pick up on that. Reassure children (and remind yourself) that these sorts of events are rare and it can be helpful to focus on all those who came to assist and support the bereaved.
The Christchurch gunman’s 74 page manifesto could be condensed into one word, “Hate”. Our children need to know that there is no place in our world for hatred, bigotry and violence. I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing what your children are doing online and with whom they are communicating. We’ll look at this issue in depth next term.
Sometimes, things happen and we don’t understand why. Often, there’s nothing we can do except: Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you (1Peter 5:7). Reassure your children of your love for them too!
(If you have a topic that you’d like more information about and think might interest other parents, please don’t hesitate to email me with suggestions at [email protected] Thanks.)