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Trauma and Faith

One of the most important of all parental respon­sibilities is to protect children from harm and shield them from disaster. But hardships and catastrophic events still happen. And Christians are not immune from such tragedies. It is only with faith in a loving, almighty God that one can effectively deal with trauma.

Crisis takes many forms. It can be of international proportion, like the devastation of September 11, 2001, or a family event, such as an accident, a bankruptcy, a family member’s arrest, or a terminal illness. For a child, a crisis may be the death of a pet, a friend moving away, or not making the team.

When crises come:

  • Encourage children to freely express feelings and ask questions.
  • Give honest answers, but admit that it is sometimes difficult to understand God’s ways.
  • Pray together. Prayer acknowledges God’s control and allows children an opportunity to do some­thing to help.
  • If a national tragedy is televised, do not allow chil­dren to watch it over and over.
  • Look for opportunities to involve children in some positive action. Does money need to be col­lected? Can a card be sent or a picture drawn? Can a tree be planted as a memorial?
  • Assure your children that because God loves them, he will bring good from the event (Romans 8:28).
  • Children are usually quite resilient. But these signs may be cause for concern:
  • Difficulty sleeping Recurring emotional expressions regarding the event
  • Regression to previous behaviors
  • Inappropriate fear or excessive crying
  • Excessive attachment and dependency

Consult a professional child counselor if you see evi­dence of several of these signs. Saint Paul wrote, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (1 Corinthians 10:13). In times when families of the unbelieving world despair, Christians find strength and hope in these reassuring words from Scripture. And they pass that hope on to their children.

From Patient Parenting, by John Juern. © 2006 Northwestern Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Image credit: Conger Design (used under Creative Commons CC0)