Talking to Your Kids About War and Refugees

Our family has been watching the news together for the past four weeks. Both of our kids have learned a little about the war in Ukraine at their school. They have both been asking to watch the world news in the evening to see how the people in Ukraine are doing. Of course, they are very interested in seeing how the children are doing and watching personal stories of escape. The women and children who are now refugees in neighboring countries have been especially in their personal prayers.

So how can we talk with kids about war? Here are three ways I've found helpful as we've processed what's happening in Ukraine.

Regular Open Discussions

We live in such unprecedented times, don’t we? We can watch social media videos, reporters on the ground, and personal stories as they are happening each day. This daily, live view of war is strange, heartbreaking and eye opening for our children. When we first turned on the nightly news last month I asked them what they understood was happening based on what they heard at school. I want to make sure they understood where this war was happening and who it is happening to. The why of war is so much more difficult to discuss of course. But after a month, they've both concluded that war is not a good answer. They are praying for Ukraine at our evening and morning prayer time

Age-appropriate Discussions

There are some things we don’t watch or search for on the internet about this war. It’s just not appropriate for their age. They don’t need certain visuals and words in their mind to understand the horrors of war (and neither do I). We watch quick 15-minute nightly news recaps or highlights of the current war. I also don’t know all the answers, and I am not ashamed to admit that to my kids. We don’t have to understand every geopolitical idea to know that we feel sad, upset, and want to pray for the people. Are the kids getting too sad, is their sleep getting disturbed, are they starting to feel scared? Remind them how far away this war is. Remind them they are safe. And turn off the news. That’s okay too.

Refugee Education

This month, we are focusing on Refugee Stories at Northwest Adventists and what better time to discuss refugees, who they are, what their life is like, and how we can help than with this war in Ukraine. War is not new, refugees are not new, but this is a good time to focus on refugees, learn from their life stories, and help where we can

The Bible tells us in Leviticus, “The foreigners residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Let us love refugees well, and do what we can to help them - with prayer, donations, volunteering and continued education to our neighbors, and don’t forget to include the kids in all your efforts for refugees.

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