Teach your children to be prepared for tragedy (Part 2)
Dealing with questions and fears
In the late 1960’s I was an Infantry Platoon Leader in the Vietnam War. As I was being trained in the United States in the months prior to my departure for the jungles of Viet Nam, I was extremely cognizant of the dangers and horror that awaited me once I arrived there. I knew for example that the life expectancy of a Rifle Platoon leader was literally minutes on average in any battle. This recognition honed my attention to what I was being taught in the classroom and in the training fields of Ft. Benning, Georgia, and Ft. Sheridan in the Panamanian jungles. I knew that my ability to respond with knowledgeable instinct, spontaneously without the necessity of much thought, was vital to my survival and that of my men. The battlefield is chaotic and lends itself to what combat soldiers know as the “fog of war. There is no time to check your notes or try to remember what you have forgotten. Your first response needs to be the right one!
There are great similarities here in preparing for the physical and spiritual realities of any tragedy. We need to know the nature and revealed intentions of our Heavenly Father, the experience and work for our salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan desires to rob, steal, and destroy. Those who have wrestled with God know the tactics of the enemy and have prepared themselves with such head and heart knowledge: these are the people to whom those who are suffering turn when tragedy strikes.
It is not enough for parents to prepare themselves. Our children should be prepared for tragedy as well. As parents, concerned about our children’s well-being and emotional health, we tend to shield them, as much as we can, from the trauma that is common to tragedy. We do not want them to have nightmares or be traumatized by specific knowledge or sight of violence, accidents involving serious injury or death, or anything we deem better handled by mature minds.
When living in Scotland many years ago our two oldest children were only one and three years of age. We came across a devotional book written for little children called Peep of Day, first published in Scotland in the 1800’s. I was struck by the honesty with which it spoke to their infant minds about the fragility of life and what could happen to their small bodies in a great fall or similar accident. It spoke to them in simple words about their bodies being wonderfully made, but also containing breakable bones, “losable blood, and woundable flesh. It addressed the real possibility of death even at a young age. My wife and I were impressed about how naturally we parents try to shield our little ones from knowledge about the harsh realities of life–things they may very well face in their earliest days. It is just as true that we underestimate what they can understand about their Heavenly Father and His personal involvement in their lives: truths we must help them see and appreciate.
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