When I was a child – about ten or so, my family went to upper Michigan to visit my grandparents. As grandparents will do, they had sweet treats awaiting my twin sister and me. Before we got to dive into those treats, my mom asked my sister and me to go on a walk on the Lake Huron Beach. As we walked, she told us that before we’d left on this trip, the doctor’s office had called saying that our sugar levels were found to be high at our recent physical. Because diabetes runs in our family, there was great concern that we could be diabetic. She told us that we had an appointment for when we returned from our vacation to have our sugar levels re-checked. In the meantime, we needed to avoid sugar.
I didn’t like the thought of being a diabetic, but the way she shared this hard news caused me not to fear. The setting, her attitude and casual approach reminded me that God knew what was happening and we could trust Him.
There are lots of hard things that touch every family’s life.
to name a few.
Have you ever wondered if it’s cruel to tell a child that someone they love is very sick with something so serious they could die? Is it too much information to tell a child your family will be relocating because of their daddy’s job? Should you tell them about “bad news?” that hit your family or that will touch their life personally?
I’ve seen parents whisper words and cover their child’s ears because they don’t want them to know. When do we say the words? When do we speak into their ears? Should we even tell the children?
- First of all, children don’t need tons of information. To tell them that Grandpa is very sick and might have to stay in the hospital would be sufficient for a 4 – 8 year old. Always start with a little information and be calm as you share it. If they ask questions and need more information, give little pieces at a time, but give honest words.
- Difficult times are great times to remind your child of the Truths of God’s Word. “Remember that God tells us in II Cor. 9:8 that He will always give us exactly what we need for a hard time.” God tells us in I Peter 5:7 that He will never leave us. Though we may have to move and leave our friends, the best part is that God is still going to be with us!”
- Hardships are also the times you need to pray with your child. If they are anxious, remind them that the place we take our burdens is to the Lord. He promises to hear and answer! Psalm 34:17,18
- If a loved one or friend dies, be truthful. Don’t say they have gone away or are taking a long nap. Tell them their body is in the grave, but (if they were a believer) the real part of them is in heaven with God where they are no longer sick. They are rejoicing with God in heaven (They’re not angels watching over us).
- Timing is key. Pray and ask God to show you when/where is the best time to talk about this.
So, the short answer is, tell them just enough to be truthful without giving too many details for young ones. Older children can take more information, of course, so share at your child’s understanding level.
May I also add that if it’s a difficult situation that your child has to endure – such as the news my mother shared with us,
- Tell them what’s going to happen. Don’t tell them a month in advance, but perhaps the day before. My mom shared it when it had to be known for our physical protection.
- Give them Scripture that will comfort them.
- Pray with them to bravely trust Jesus to help them.
- Tell them how you will be right there
- Remind them they must obey the doctors, for their own sake.
- Don’t lie about pain. If they’re going to get a shot, tell them that it will hurt for a minute, but then it will be over.
I think that as parents who really love our children, we need to be “wisely honest.” God will give you the words to say as you come to your Father for direction. He’s happy to tell you every detail you need to know and we need to do the same. James 1:5
My mom was always so great about knowing how and when to speak hard things to me. I learned that she would always tell me the truth and I could trust her. Thank the Lord, the diabetes was negative, but I never forgot how she lovingly helped us through that trial. Let your child learn that they can trust you as you point them to their Heavenly Father in every difficulty your family faces.
Did you ever have hard news that was wisely shared with you?