By Seth Dahl, Crosswalk.com
The Coronavirus has closed schools and churches, and in some places, is keeping us sheltered at home with our families for the foreseeable future.
Many parents are wondering how to have a necessary conversation with their kids about this world-wide event, without leaving them fearful or nervous.
Another question we should be asking is, “How do we help remove any fear our kids may already have?”
Talk to Your Kids in a Way That Promotes a Sense of Safety
As a parent, we should become a “filter” of news for our children. We must first look through the news, then develop a godly perspective that is free of fear before sharing updates with our kids.
This is especially important with young children. Consider keeping the news off while your children are in the room, and give yourself a chance to filter any breaking updates on the situation.
Older kids may also be searching the Coronavirus on their devices, and hear rumors from friends online. Though older children are better able to talk through these things logically, it’s still important to have a conversation with them to help ensure they’re processing through a lens of faith.
Depending on the age of your children, knowing the facts is important in your conversation. Some of the facts look really scary, but not all of them.
At the time of this writing, according to the CDC website, “For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus is thought to be low*.” There are obviously high risks for some people, but without the above fact, it’s easy for kids to start worrying that everyone will die.
Understanding facts about the virus can help us approach conversations without fear.
Check Your Own Fear with God’s Word
The most important thing to be aware of as we talk with them is our tone of voice and the spirit from which we speak. If I am fearful, I will instill fear no matter how well I filter the news or relay statistics.
If I'm not fearful, it will be extremely difficult to instill fear into them. If you can hear fear in your own voice, consider talking to God before you talk to your kids.
Just like it’s important to filter through the news for our kids, we have to filter for ourselves as well. We need to filter what we hear on TV or read on the internet through the Good News of the Gospel and the Word of God.
This truth needs to become our filter for all the facts we are given by the media.
Additionally, though uncertainty can breed fear, times of uncertainty also present teachable moments where we can learn to trust. This is an opportunity to move beyond facts and into God’s Truth as we talk with our children.
While thinking about the coronavirus the other day, the Lord simply reminded me of John 14:27 where Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
As I thought about this, I realized that the world will have peace once this whole thing is over. The CDC and news media may be able to calm people’s nerves when successful vaccines, better treatments and “good news” emerge.
Once experts know exactly what they are dealing with, and how to best handle/control it, coverage around Coronavirus will calm down and reflect a less afraid, more peaceful mindset from government and world health leaders.
But Jesus gives us peace now, before any of these things happen.
Let that truth become your personal filter when you watch or read the news, and let it be the filter you use in conversations with your kids.
I refuse to talk to my kids about how they might catch a virus without telling them they could also catch the peace of God. God’s peace is far more contagious than any virus, as long we aren’t socially distancing ourselves from Him.
Mark 4 tells the story of Jesus asleep in the boat during a violent storm. The disciples woke Him thinking He didn’t care they were all about to drown!
He got right up and released peace to the storm, and the storm stopped. From this story we should notice that the peace of Christ was released not just so He and his friends would survive the storm, but so that his friends (and the rest of us) could see that no storm could survive Him.
The peace of Jesus is not defensive, it’s offensive. What does that mean for us right now? It means that while we do wash our hands, keep our hands off our face, and practice social distancing, but we also purposefully practice peace, taking every thought captive and bringing it under the obedience of Christ.
One practical offensive strategy we can do with our kids is to turn our hand-washing times into prayer times. As we wash our hands, we can simply declare the peace of God over our families, friends, cities and nations. In doing so, we turn moments of caution into reminders of the peace Jesus gives us.
Remove Any Fear Your Kids May Already Have
The same filter we use to prevent fear from entering into our homes, can also be used to remove it.
In 1 John 4:18, we learn that “perfect love casts out fear.” Perfect love does this all by itself.
It’s not our job to cast out fear, that’s the job of perfect love. This type of love is only seen in the cross of Jesus, but it is alluded to in other places throughout the Bible.
We are entering the season of Passover, which is a time to remember the blood of the lamb that protected children from death. They were passed over by death because of the lamb’s blood, and we will be passed over from death because of the blood of Jesus.
That statement alone removes fear from our children, since it’s filling their hearts and minds with perfect love. Whenever fear is present, we simply need to be reminded of the cross of Jesus, where perfect love laid down His life to protect us from a virus wanting to take it.
Since Passover is approaching, now is a great time to read the Exodus story to our children and show them how, just as death was passing through Egypt in that time, it’s passing through the world in ours.
And just like God answered the Israelite’s prayers for protection, God will answers our in his own way, too.
Taking communion as a family after reading this story can be a very powerful and tangible way to connect our children to this reality. It will also connect the Passover story to the cross, so our children can see that God was sharing the power of the blood long before Jesus ever came to earth.
I want to encourage you to do this with your family
If you haven’t talked much about the Coronavirus already, taking communion and talking about what the blood did is a great place to start.
And if your kids are afraid right now, simply remember to combine your filter of truth with these practical actions to recalibrate your whole family around God’s Word.
Seth Dahl is a longtime children’s pastor, speaker and the author of Win+Win Parenting. He is also creator of a new online children's church initiative available at www.sethdahl.com. Seth, his wife, Lauren and their three children homestead with a large garden and handful of animals on a small farm in Austin, Texas.
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