Yesterday, plain and simple, was awful. Another incident of gun violence, this time a student targeting other students and teachers. Part of our responsibility as the church is to offer partnership with families through all of the ups and downs of life. The irony does not go unnoticed that we are going to celebrate FIVE (5!) children in a Family Dedication ceremony this Sunday in Worship. Holmeswood is committed to families. We love this partnership and, as part of one of the very difficult moments, I want to share some resources gathered by colleagues and myself. As with any resource, please pick and choose what is best for your child/ren at this time and base it off of their developmental level, age, capacity and personality. You know your children best; and if you do not have children at home but are close to a family with children, please consider sharing this post with them via email or text.
Link to these resources: https://holmeswoodfam.org/parent-library/
How To Talk to Your Kids/Youth about School Shootings and other gun violence
Some tips from Rev. Lee Ritchie, a Children’s Minister at a sister CBF church (Ardmore Baptist in NC)
- Never lie to your child: You want to answer all their questions truthfully so that they know they can trust you and come to you for all the important conversations in their life. That being said, depending on your child’s age and maturity they may not be ready for all the details.
- Should I talk to my child about this or not? Tough question! The answer is multi-layered:
- If your child already knows about it, YES! Please don’t avoid talking about something traumatic that your child already knows about. Also, your child could have misinformation that might even be scarier than the truth. You want your child to hear from you about the things of this world and how you as a Christ-follower respond.
- If your child hears things at school or on the news or overhears you (or relatives) talking with others about it, YES! (See above)
- If your child doesn’t know about it, maybe. That one is up to you. I know we all are horrified that this happens at all and now that it has happened in our community. We want to shelter our children from all of the heartbreak of this world. But know that Jesus shines light and love into these hard places even as we parent. Remember God made us to have compassion and empathy for one another and hard conversations like this grow empathy in our children…empathy helps us look and act like Jesus.
- Share with your child details in bite-sized pieces they can begin to process: I know I’ve already said this, but your child’s age and maturity play into it.
- Consider the details of the incident (each piece) and see what can make sense to your child. (Ex. Someone was hurt, someone died, someone was shot, a student was killed, a student shot another student.) All of these details matter, but some may or may not be right for your child.
- Talk about your thoughts and feelings: Your child can sense your feelings and if you talk about them it can give your child permission to express their feelings.
- Make sure to share what you believe:
- God made all of us…every person in God’s image and every life is precious, both the person who died and the person who took another’s life. God’s heart is broken when a life is taken.
- Jesus lived a life of compassion where he valued every person, those easy to love and those harder to love. He spoke about the Kingdom of God and how we can help it be right here with us through God’s love and our love and actions on behalf/for/with our neighbors.
Articles and Other Resources around Gun Violence
The Dougy Center is a national grief center for children with amazing resources, out of Portland, OR; I (Laurel) am connected with and fully trust this organization for sound resources: Talkig With Children About Tragic Events: https://www.dougy.org/resource-articles/talking-with-children-about-tragic-events?fbclid=IwAR1lJq2FOtlgtHBBaXel5KfsLfo36H_qTd40YJ-8TDJHNlXHyc01qHnXgd0
Fred Rogers Institute – Talking with Children about Difficult things in the News https://www.fredrogersinstitute.org/files/resources/7/respondingtodifficultcurrentevents2022.pdf?fbclid=IwAR38n2L5P78bhtXDYv2_5yvg51TR6eH6vT9ZwjzXO4yqlX-c2WSQEbRggvs
Book: What to do When the News Scares You https://www.amightygirl.com/what-to-do-news-scares-you?fbclid=IwAR3hR3hKNuQQagEO4GrIJ7PZ5dh1iBv9ZI8v_NE-JoAO4OfOzgMullChwT8
In addition, as part of Worship on Sunday, our congregants will be able to pick up a “Summer Prayer Partner” card with a child’s first name on it, as the adult/child/teen serves as a Summer Prayer Partner for this child. If you would like your child to be included in this stack of Summer Prayer Partner cards (& if you might have a specific prayer request for your child’s summer that they can pray for), please email me back with your child/ren’s first name(s) by Saturday, 5/28. We want you and your children to be reminded that they are loved, cared for, and that God is present with all of us–even in the scariest of times.
And if you would like to be a Prayer Partner for a child/youth, please pick up a card on Sunday!
If you need to talk or have questions, please contact me. And if you would like a printed copy of any of these articles, please let me know. I;ll leave you with this prayer, by Kayla Craig.
God, hear our Prayer.