Everywhere you turn, people are talking about the Coronavirus, and understandably so. But that means, whether you like it or not, your kids are talking and thinking about the same thing. My oldest son (age 13) has taken to checking a coronavirus app every day to see updated figures on infections and fatalities. He’ll often read them out loud for any other family member to hear. Probably not coincidentally, my youngest son (9) just recently mentioned to me that he’s afraid of death. As I’m sure you can imagine, that led to a conversation I hadn’t anticipated having that day!
All this points to the fact that we parents would do well to think a bit more on the front end about how to talk to our kids about this global pandemic. Along those lines, here are just a few things to keep in mind when you have your own conversations:
Remember that this situation is an opportunity to shepherd our kids in the right direction.
Rather than seeing this crisis as simply an inconvenience or difficulty to move past, let’s remember that it can also be an opportunity to help our kids see important truths and to help kindle their faith. (And, of course, that’s true for us as well.)
When dealing with heavy subjects, we don’t always need to share everything we know, and we should speak age-appropriately. But what we do tell kids should be the truth. This will be far more beneficial for them (and for our relationship with them) in the long run.
Tell your kids that being scared makes them just like everyone else.
Fear often works through isolation. We (and maybe kids especially) think, “No one else is afraid like I am.” But the opposite is true. Why else would the Bible include so much that is meant to encourage us in our fears? The reality is, that all of us, as human beings, are often afraid.
Let them know that God wants us to bring our fears to him.
The Psalms are God’s way of teaching us how to communicate with him. With this in mind, we should notice how often the writers of those Psalms mention their fears to God. Their example—along with many others in the Bible—should encourage us to do the same. For help with what this looks like practically, check out this podcast. Crossing Pastor Dave Cover teaches how to pray scripture–especially the Psalms–back to God.
Remind your kids that God remains powerfully in control.
The Coronavirus may have snuck up on us unexpectedly. None of us know how all of this will play out in the days ahead. We may be helpless in a lot of ways to deal with it. But none of these things are true of God. He knows the end from the beginning. And he reigns as the absolute king over all creation. The Coronavirus is not too big or too hard to handle for the God who threw countless stars into existence and who, moment-by-moment, holds everything together by his powerful word.
Remind your kids that this same God who is in control is able to use bad and difficult things for the good of those who trust in him.
We see this over and over again in the Bible. As a good and loving Heavenly Father, God often uses what we would never choose to bring about joy and blessing that we could never have imagined. Both in this life and in the next. Imagine what Jesus’s closest followers must have thought when he was nailed to a cross to undergo that brutal, agonizing death. And yet, that terrible event turned out to be for their eternal good. Jesus’s death and resurrection enabled them, as well as everyone who has placed their trust in him since, to be fully forgiven of their sins and gain a new life in which they will enjoy him forever. If God can work out even the death of his beloved Son for our good, he can do the same with this pandemic.
Point your kids outward.
This is a great time to help your kids think beyond themselves, about the good of those around them. Encourage them to pray with you for those who are sick and most at risk. Pray for those who are on the front lines of treating illness. Pray for those who are working on a vaccine and treatments. You can also help them communicate with and encourage loved ones who are more isolated because of these circumstances.
One last thing: This might be a great opportunity to memorize and regularly repeat scripture with your kids. Try memorizing God’s promise to his people in Isaiah 41:10 as a family: “So do not fear, for I am with you.” That’s something we all need to remember.
Are you looking for ways to trust God with your fears and questions? Check out the Trust the King email devotionals below for daily encouragement on how to entrust your life to King Jesus, who is fully in control of everything.