Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Sense of Proportion

As I write this, it has been less than 24 hours since the explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line. The television has kept us abreast of every development, every story of heroism, every tragedy spelled out in gratuitous detail. What do we tell our kids about events such as these?

I was very touched by this meme that popped up all over Facebook almost immediately. I think Mrs. Rogers was a very wise woman. Reminding children to focus on the goodness going on in the midst of the terror helps them get a sense of proportion. There was a bad person who planted explosives at a race, but look at all the good people who are there to help! I think this is a great message to send to your kids. This will not, unfortunately, be the last time you will need to point this out to them. 

Remind them that we can do something to help too; we can pray, even when we are far away. And we can look for things to be thankful for in the midst of the disaster: the kindness of strangers, the emergency workers who know just what to do, the dogs who can find bombs, all the people who weren't harmed. Your list will be different from mine, but it will comfort you and your children to look for things to be grateful for in the midst of a tragedy.

Point out to your children that while this is the only thing on the news, there are many other things going on in the world at the same time. In this particular instance, one large event that went virtually ignored in the news was a major earthquake in Iran. The death toll is expected to exceed one hundred. Those people need our prayers every bit as much as the people of Boston. Help your child understand that the magnitude of media coverage is not a true indication of the importance of an event.

This is also a great time to talk about showing kindness to everyone. Acts of kindness will nearly always earn respect from most people. How many acts of violence are committed by people who have been scarred by abuse or bullying or neglect? If your child is popular, she has the power to influence others to be kind. If your child is picked on and bullied, it is important to help him learn to stand up for himself and to recognize that for every person who bullies him, there are far more who don't. Keeping a sense of proportion is vital. 

Lastly, be sure to model your faith in the midst of a frightening event. Pray with your child for the victims and emergency personnel. Pray for the "enemy." Talk about how we need not fear death because we know there is a new life beyond this one. Share what you believe. Tell your children what gives you courage and peace in hard times. God will use evil to bring good, and one of those good things is an opportunity to share your faith with your children. Faith, not the media, can establish a sense of proportion in the midst of the unthinkable.

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