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Scared by War

What's the best way to talk about world events?
Dear Lisa,

My ten-year-old daughter's been exposed to extensive coverage about war and possible new terrorist attacks through the media, her school, and even her friends. Even though we've tried to reassure her, she's afraid of what might happen to our family as a result of these global events. What's the best way to talk to her about what's going on in the world?

Between the descriptions of murder, rape, and now war and terrorism, I'm surprised adults, much less children, are able to click off the nightly news and sleep peacefully. It's almost impossible for young minds to interpret the news with any real perspective. From their viewpoint, these things are happening in their own backyard.

I suggest you treat the nightly news as you would any questionable media for your preteen. Your daughter still will hear things from friends and at school, so it's important you be the one to explain what's going on.

Then grab a globe and show her where Iraq is in relation to your hometown. This will enable your daughter to see that though America's at war, the war isn't in America.

To answer her questions about terrorist threats, try this experiment. Tell her that the odds of being directly affected by terrorism are approximately 1.5 million to 1. Fill a measuring cup with rice (there are roughly 8,500 rice kernels in one cup). Take a marker and color one kernel to represent her, then mix it back into the cup. Have your daughter close her eyes and try to pick out that one colorful kernel. Explain to her that you'd need almost 200 cups to equal 1.5 million kernels of rice, and those are the odds she'll be directly impacted by terrorism.

Don't forget to remind your daughter that God encourages us to bring every fear to him (Philippians 4:6). Pray with her and for her. And tell her what King David said: "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. … I call to the Lord. … and I am saved from my enemies" (Psalm 18:2, 3). Ultimately our life is in the Lord's hands—and there is no greater protection.

Bracing for Summer Boredom

I narrowly survived spring break with my three kids, ages five, eight, and nine, who constantly complained about "being bored." I'm worn out by trying to keep my children entertained. Now I'm dreading the approach of summer when school's out for three months! How can I avoid their lament and teach them to entertain themselves?

My kids are never bored; at least, they'll never admit it to me anymore. That's because they learned at an early age that Mom always has a cure for boredom—work! I suggest you make a list ahead of time of all the jobs around the house your children can tackle. … such as scrubbing baseboards, polishing silver, washing windows, weeding the flowerbed, etc. Then, whenever you hear those famous last words, "I'm bored," seize the moment. It's a no-lose situation: Either your kids get the message and find ways to entertain themselves, or you get your spring cleaning done in the summer!

Here's another idea. I just received our neighborhood "Parks and Recreation" catalog today, and asked each of my kids to circle a sport or activity they'd like to learn this summer. Besides the reasonable cost, this provides a fun opportunity for my children to enjoy a monotony-busting physical activity without having them commit to an entire season of it.

What fun thing would you like to do this summer? Have you always wanted to learn to cross-stitch, bake homemade bread, or scrapbook those old photos? Why not learn with your kids? Granted, it's not exactly teaching them to entertain themselves, but if you're enjoying something together, it solves the "I'm bored" problem. And wouldn't you rather be making memories than marking time?

Grieving Grandma

My mom passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure how to handle the grieving process for myself and my two kids, ages six and ten. They've never before experienced the death of a pet—let alone a loved one. What is the best way to talk to them about this?

The best way is simply to listen. Your children need to express their fears, feelings, and questions. Encouraging them to do this will enable you to keep your finger on the pulse of their hearts. These shared times will help you through the grieving process as well. Remember, your kids need to see you grieve to assure them what they feel is normal.

Children may react to profound loss in a variety of ways: regression, sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, anger, withdrawal, sickness, or depression. While prolonged responses may be cause for concern, any of these reactions is typical at first and may resurface in cycles for many years. Allow your children to grieve naturally, without suppressing their emotions, even ones that would require reining in under normal circumstances. Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you when your mothering instincts take over. God promises to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death; lean on him for wisdom.

Most importantly, depend on God for comfort. Teach your children that the Holy Spirit's name is "The Comforter." Ask God to use this opportunity to transform the abstract concept of heaven into the reality that Jesus has prepared a place for each of us, and that Grandma is there now enjoying her beloved Lord's presence. And she'll be there to hold her grandchildren again one day if they also make Jesus their Lord.

Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Tyndale) and So You're Thinking About Homeschooling (Multnomah). She and her husband, Steve, have three children. Check out Lisa's website at www.lisawhelchel.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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