"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.
Therefore be as shrewd as snakes
and as innocent as doves."
Last Friday, as the news of the massacre in Connecticut was streaming in, I struggled with how much to tell my children. Once upon a time, I probably wouldn't have said a word. But that was before. Before I'd read that teenagers had no idea who Osama bin Laden was. Before I saw painful videos of teens not really being able to say what 9/11 was about. Clearly, these kids were sheltered too much.
I also believe there is a huge difference between sheltering our children on such matters as debauchery and sheltering them about the evil they can expect to face as their lives progress. Not preparing our children to live in a world that, as the Bible predicts, will only become more evil is not only cruel, but may cause their faith to fail when they need it most.
So, when my 7 year old caught me crying as I read the news, and when she asked me why, I discussed it with her. I think there are several keys to making this work:
* Be straightforward, but don't offer up more information than the child needs. Don't go into details - especially gory ones.
* One or two sentences is usually all that's necessary.
* Ask your child what she thinks about what you've just told her. If needed, guide her to what the Bible says on the matter.
* Ask her if she has questions. Answer them as simply as possible, again, not giving more details than necessary.
* End with a prayer.
I should note I did not talk to my 4 year old about the news. He's not yet mature enough to even begin to understand. But we must be careful not to wait too long, friends, or we may suddenly find they are adults and we have neglected our duty to prepare them.