Teaching our children about 9/11

If you have kids then the anniversary of September 11th always brings up the question of what to tell them. For a lot of us the topic still evokes a strong emotional response and we aren’t quite ready to teach our children about the horrible things that people are capable of.

So what do we need to say and why is it important? If you’ve listened to Episode 4 you know that we believe that God instructs us to be prepared. But what we will talk about more in future episodes is that God also calls us to respond.

If you have young children that aren’t ready to learn about the death and destruction of the day then spend time talking about our first responders, what their jobs are, how we call them when we need help and what we can do to help them.

If your kids are ready to learn about 9/11 I would encourage you not just to share the images and the facts but also share your story of the day. The phrase ‘Where were you’ seems a little overused on the Internet these days but it’s important for your children. Until they have a personal connection to the event it’s just history to them. No different than Vietnam or WWII. At their current age what would they have been doing that day? How did your parents react? What would you have done as their parent then?

I will always remember the point in time where I made that connection. We were studying WWII and I was young and it was boring so when my mother was trying to get me to sit still and focus on our studies I exclaimed: “Who cares!”. Her response changed me forever. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I care. Because my daddy was there.” It all clicked in that moment and it sparked a passion for history that remains in me to this day. Even though it was obviously painful for her (I still feel bad about that mom) I needed that personal connection to make it come alive.

Your story may just inspire a love of history, politics, military, education, healthcare or more in your child. That passion could end up becoming a hobby, a mission or even a career.

But I think the most important thing that we can impress upon our children is just how big of an impact that one person can make. We have to acknowledge that the impact can be for good or for evil. It does no good to forget evil but let the media dwell on that. We must be responsible for teaching the next generation to respond to tragedy with good.

It’s a lesson that stays fresh on our minds on 9/11 but it is also a lesson that can be applied every day. Tragedy will always be around us. While there hasn’t been a recent terrorist attack on our soil there is a massive storm bearing down on our country right now. People will be hurt, people will lose their homes and belongings and businesses and some will even lose their lives. We need to respond and it is our job to teach them how to respond with good.