The conflict between Ukraine and Russia is causing anxiety and fear for many kids. Sometimes we as parents avoid talking about current events such as this because we don’t want to scare our kids. Perhaps we feel it doesn’t directly affect them, and we don’t want to weigh them down with hard things. Often, we just don’t know what to say.
The reality is our kids are aware of what is happening. They are having conversations at school about the conflict in Ukraine. They overhear adults discussing it or see news reports on TV. If they are on social media, kids are exposed to a multitude of images, videos and perspectives.
Discipling our kids does not happen in a vacuum separated from the rest of the world. We can use this situation to not only calm our kids’ fears, but to help them view this type of world event through a biblical lens.
Talk about what’s happening. Don’t let the majority of the conversations happen outside of your home. Initiate the conversation. Find out what your children have heard. Let kids express their thoughts and ask questions. To the best of your ability, explain what is happening appropriate to their age level. You do not need to present a lengthy history lesson. Keep it short, focusing on facts and avoiding political opinions. Remember it is OK to not have all the answers. It is OK to say, “I don’t know” or “Let’s search the internet for that together.” You don’t have to be an expert on international affairs. You just need to be willing to walk through the conversation with your kids.
Help kids feel safe. The number one question for most kids is, “Is war going to happen here?” or “Will this affect us?” Look on a map and show them where the Ukraine and Russia are in relation to where you live. Explain how our military exists to protect us. Most of all remind them that God is in control of the whole world. Read Psalm 91 together as a family and help your child depend on God for protection. Assure them that although we have no control over what happens in the world, we can trust and depend on God no matter what.
Avoid continuous news coverage. One key to help decrease kids’ anxiety is to limit their exposure to media. Kids’ brains can’t process the constant barrage of images and words that today’s news outlets provide. Be very selective about how much your child views. The older your child is, the more they can handle. Consider turning the TV off when your young kids are in the room.
Point towards Jesus. Remind kids that wars happen because our world is broken by sin. This was not God’s design for people or our planet. God cares about the hard things that are happening in the world and He grieves when sinful acts take place (Isaiah 63:10). He sent Jesus to Earth to make a way for sin to be forgiven so that all can be right again one day. Our world will only be 100% peaceful after Jesus returns and God makes all things new. The Gospel is the only hope our world has.
Remind your children that God is very much at work in the middle of war and chaos. God is with us in the midst of it. Older kids can research the history of the underground Church in Ukraine and discuss the implications of a Russian invasion on the Church. Discuss what it would be like to follow Jesus in that type of situation. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss what it looks like to trust in Jesus during persecution and scary times.
Pray and investigate ways to serve. Lead your family to pray for the situation in Ukraine. Encourage your kids to brainstorm topics to pray for. Pray for a peaceful resolution. Pray for protection for the people. Pray for God to guide leaders and to intervene according to His will. Pray for the churches there. Consider researching organizations that are ministering to those in Ukraine or refugees.
While this may be the first major international conflict that we walk through with our children, it will not be the last. These opportunities to disciple kids and walk with them through the most difficult topics of life are precious. There are no perfect answers. You can’t mess this up. Ask for God’s guidance as you navigate this situation and begin the conversation.
Daniel 2:20-21 says, Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
The same God who oversees international conflict is the God who is helping you disciple your children. Trust in Him as you help your kids discern world events with a biblical worldview.
Awana Canada partners with Awana Ukraine. We are ready to provide financial support to our team in Ukraine and ask you to donate as you are able. Please visit awanacanada.ca/donate and find Ukraine Ministry Aid in the donation drop down.
Author: Kerry Provost