Make space for quiet and prayer in times of tragedy.

Make space for quiet and prayer in times of tragedy.

We originally ran this post following the tragedy in Aurora, CO.  Not surprisingly, we feel the need to reach out and up once again given the recent happenings in Newtown, CT.  Any time something like this impacts a community, parents have to help their children cope. Here is what has worked for us as a family.

Talk to your children. They need to find out what is going on from you. Yes, we want to protect our children, but we also need to be a reliable source of world events. Give your children an age appropriate run down of the events. Then listen to what they have to say. They are going to feel more empowered if they feel heard. Obviously, if your children are very young, you probably won’t be talking to them about this but I’m assuming your children are old enough to have sources of information other than you.

Turn off the media. Whether its news streaming online or the local TV news, media plays up the danger and the uncertainty because that’s what sells. It keeps people tuning in to hear the latest update even if there is nothing new to say. Shut it off. Don’t let this be what constantly fills your children’s ears, their minds and their hearts instead . . .

Fill their minds and hearts with serenity. Go beyond unplugging and seek out someplace that you feel near to God. You might expect me to say “go to church,” and for many people this is the right answer. Personally, I sometimes need to get outside. I feel closest to God in the desert of West Texas, but there’s also a local river bend that can do the trick. A friend of mine seeks out the beach at dawn. Forest. Field. Whatever works for you. Take your children there with you.  Help them find quiet.

Help your children speak to God. Just as your children bring their concerns to you, encourage them to speak to God. They don’t have to use a formal prayer, they can simply say how they feel and ask for the help that they need to deal with it. Dear God, I’m really scared that someone will hurt me and my friends. Help me to be brave every day. Amen.

Help your children hear God. You might choose scripture, but for me music is often the key. I’m not recommending against scripture, but nothing sticks in my head like music. After we sing an anthem in church, I catch myself humming bits and pieces throughout the week. Often, this is what I need when I’m troubled. Here are a few pieces I’ve previously posted here on PrayPower – Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this Place,  Open My Eyes that I May See, and Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart.

None of these things will magically fix what is wrong in this world, but these are all things that will bring your children closer to their families and to God. This will give them a source of strength to draw on when bad times come or when someone else needs to be held up in prayer.