By now everyone who follows my blog has heard the tragic news of the shootings in Newtown CT. There are no logical explanations for this event. Mental health professionals could give you a plethora of psychological diagnosis for the shooter’s actions; it doesn’t make the event any less horrifying. I can offer spiritual insight that will make sense but it will not ease the pain, anger or grief.
When the Columbine shootings occurred in 1999 I was working with a group of teenagers at my local church. We spent many Sunday afternoons discussing the Columbine tragedy. Even though the young people I worked with had never met any of the Columbine victims, they were still saddened, outraged, and frightened by the event. Many of you have children the same age as the children who were killed. I strongly suggest you try to shield them from the event as much as possible simply because of their age. Death is very difficult for young children, it becomes more difficult when those who have died are their age, little like they are, it causes them to realize how fragile they themselves are and that’s a scary realization.
Unfortunately, many children are going to hear and see news reports and when they do, they’re going to have more questions than you have answers. I learned this when working with the young people after Columbine. However, this time, the children with all the questions are much younger, so the questions are going to be much tougher. The 5 – 10 year olds are the ones who trust the adults in their lives to have all the answers to everything. My advice is this, if they do hear about Newtown CT and start asking direct questions, don’t lie to them, tell them the truth as gently as possible. Don’t be too graphic but don’t sugar coat it either. Just answer the direct questions with direct, simple, basic, answers. Do not change the subject or tell them they don’t need to know. As difficult as this seems, giving them real answers to real questions allows them to process the event without allowing their imaginations to take over and create monsters from the unanswered questions.
This is a very dark day for everyone. If you have children asking questions you have no idea how to answer, no matter what age they are, or if you have questions or need to talk this through, I will offer my services free of charge, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org