This is not a political column. Yet, I must address the events of Jan. 6 in the light of raising children. Talking to little people whose minds are not yet fully developed must be handled with wisdom, especially in a tricky situation. Since children will hear about the Capitol riots even if you don’t tell them, I encourage you to leap right in and have an open discussion that is age appropriate to your child. Let’s explore the topic a bit and discuss ways to talk with your child. Afterall, you are their guide to this loopy life.
Facts about the Capitol riots
There are two things I think are important to address here: fact and perspective. First, let’s examine the facts. According to various news reports, on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, an angry mob of Trump supporters held a riot on the Capitol grounds. Rioters did not want the Electoral College vote count to be certified, the results of which would declare Joe Biden the next president. The rioters became violent and broke into the Capitol building, where lawmakers were certifying the vote. As a result, five people died, many more were injured, and public property was taken or destroyed. The last bit of information makes things tricky. Many Trump supporters identify as Christians. As believers, how do we even begin to explain this mess to our children?
A Godly perspective
Let’s consider a few things. We must examine what God has called us to — a life of humility. Even when we are angry. So, although many Trump supporters may be Christians, those who stormed the Capitol did not act in accordance with God’s Word. They do not represent what we, as Christians, believe. God sees the mess down here, and He desperately wants those who are angry about the election to put away their pride and come back to Him. Humility leads to healing, and our country is hurting. We need a soothing balm right now.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV).
I believe the rioters had a misguided allegiance. They had vision of what they wanted (Trump reelected) and made that vision into an idol. When Trump lost, they could not let go of that vision. Getting their way became more important than doing the right thing. They allowed anger to control them, the actions of which led to a disastrous end. On the playground, we called it being a sore loser. It’s the same concept here. We can learn something from this tragedy. Let us teach our children how to control their anger and lose gracefully. If not, they grow into adults who cannot control themselves and take it out in unhealthy ways, like we saw with the rioters.
Talking to younger children
“If you can keep your kids from hearing about this when they are seven and under there’s no need to go there,” says Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting and resiliency expert. Turn off the television. To provide a shield for children seven and under, we cannot have news images flashing before them. When children see something they don’t understand, they tend to worry about it. A lot. At this age, they cannot fully comprehend the situation. News will cause unfounded fears. We must shelter them from the news coverage as much as possible.
The conversation can happen when they are older. For now, leave it be. However, if they have already heard about it or seen images, ask them what they know. Their level of knowledge will determine your response. Guide the conversation to the facts but keep it general. You can say something like this: A group of people were mad because they did not get what they wanted. Their anger drove them to do bad things. Reassure your children that they are safe, and that the rioters are far away.
Children eight to 12 will comprehend a bit more. They are likely to know about political parties and be familiar with the recent presidential election. You can give simple facts to this aged child but keep it uncomplicated. You can say something like this: Some people who support President Trump rioted at the capitol to oppose the electoral college votes, which favored Joe Biden. They stormed the capitol
where lawmakers were counting the vote. Many broke into the capitol and caused damaged. As a result, five people died, including a police officer. Their actions were hateful and morally wrong.
Teenagers will analyze the riots and ask many questions in their attempt to understand. When pride causes us to sin, God wants us to turn away from our sin and repent. Then we will see healing. When people do not turn to God, they will keep going on a self-centered pathway, leading them to more trouble. Teenagers get this. They have seen it in their own lives. Encourage them to limit their exposure to the news but do have honest conversations with them about the riots. Answer any questions they have.
It is not enough to teach our children scripture at church and expect them to “get it” on their own. Children need us. They need guidance. They need a parent they feel comfortable talking to when things become muddled. Give your child the gift of a godly perspective. A Biblical worldview. Until next week, be well and be available for your children. If you don’t guide them, someone else will.
Contact Cheyenne Belew at firstname.lastname@example.org.