With life being the way it is, I knew it would be a matter of time before K realises that she has friends whose parents are divorced, so I wanted to prepared on how to explain the whys, should she broach the topic.
I was chatting with some friends about how they explained the “why”. I thought it would be too trite to say “they fell out of love”, and that would give them the impression that marriage was a matter of easy-come-easy-go. Although adultery forms the grounds of divorce in most cases, I didn’t know how much to go into that, since it was also much more than ‘falling in love with someone else’.
Then a few days after I started thinking about the topic, I came across this book that I bought earlier, but hadn’t read yet. It was the most direct and comprehensive answer to all my questions!
When I was reading Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions, I wondered why a similar book hadn’t been written till now. Published in 2014 by a mother and daughter pair (who also wrote Give Them Grace), the content is theologically very sound, and does not gloss over really hard topics.
Some of these topics (such as “Why does God let Natural Disasters happen?”, addressing the realities of heaven and hell, and even suicide) are hard enough for adults to grapple with, but this book tackles them issue by issue from a biblical worldview, and breaks down the communication pointers into three main age groups – Preschool, Ages 5 to 10 as well as Ages 11 and up.
Talking about hard topics rightfully needs to be intensely age-appropriate. Going into details that a 4 year cannot understand, or doesn’t need to know yet, will not be helpful at all. So I really appreciated the guidelines on how to tailor ‘how much to say’ to each age group.
The authors emphasise that the guidelines are general, and different children have different needs and develop in different stages. Thus, it is most important to know your children well, by asking them questions and paying close attention to their answers.
Since this was so helpful to me, I thought I’d share a bit on two chapters, and you should really go and buy a copy to read the whole book.
Why do people get divorced?
The chapter starts by explaining Marriage, then covers Adultery, Biblical grounds for Divorce, and ends with a section with suggestions on how to broach it with kids.
I thought it was particularly helpful that the end of the chapter mentions that apart from abusive situations, one should not keep kids away from the other spouse, nor seek to undermine their relationship with the other spouse. “As they grow and mature, they will see the things you see, but you should seek to be an example of what it means to love your enemies.”
Why do people die?
The other chapter that I found particularly helpful was the one on Death. Our children have not experienced the death of a close friend or relative so far, so they have been relatively shielded from grief.
Here are some excerpts, with paraphrasing:
We should not fear that addressing death in realistic terms will create an unhealthy preoccupation or fear within them.
When we engage children on this serious topic, we need to be aware of their individuality and ability to understand.
Speak to them in a way that will bring truth and comfort at a level that they can grasp.
Our children need to know that the Christian faith does not portray an unrealistic world where everything is perfect, nor does it avoid addressing the painful, hard-to-understand things of life.
It is important to have built a firm foundation with your kids about the death of a loved one even before they have to experience it personally. Once it happens, talking about it will be unnecessarily difficult, as one will also be grappling with one’s own emotions.
Death is a result of our sinful nature, but it is not a punishment for believers, because Jesus Christ has already taken all our punishment.
God does not choose to heal some and let others die based on the quality of their faith. He does so based on what glorifies him most. We see that in the story of Lazarus, who was allowed to die and then live again.
The chapter also covers the topic of suicide, which I had not even thought of explaining to the kids.
Here are some helpful points:
Children need to have a basic understanding of what the Bible says about suicide. The Bible does not teach that suicide is an unforgiveable sin.
Committing suicide is a sin because it is a murder of oneself, but again, nowhere do we read that a true believer won’t be forgive of all his sin, confessed or not.
Suicide causes unimaginable pain for the ones who are left behind. We can trust, though, that Christ will see all those affected by a loved one’s suicide through their immense pain.
We can explain to our children that each one of us makes selfish decisions that hurt others every single day, and yet we are forgiven. This will hopefully ease the anger, if any, against the deceased.
Ultimately, our conversations should point our kids to the fact that death is a result of sin from the time of Eden, thereafter Jesus has defeated death and taken away its sting, and thus those who are God’s people have the hope of heaven, which is a glorious eternal future.
p.s. We purchased this book from Shalom Christian Media.