Helping Your Child Respond to Tragedy

By Dixie Walker

Think of the most recent tragic event that’s made headline news. What was your initial response to it? Did it create fear in you? What about uncertainty for your future? Did it make you feel afraid to continue your normal daily routines, wondering if something bad would happen to you or your family?

Times of upheaval are difficult for everyone. We all want to think our world and the environments we live in are safe, secure, and happy. However, when unexpected disasters occur, we’re often left without understanding or reasons behind the chaos. And for children, these difficulties are especially upsetting.

Adversities come in a variety of ways. We may encounter natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, or hurricanes. We see video and photos of the ways weather can destroy individuals’ lives, homes, and belongings. Other times we may face what appears to be an untimely accident or death of a loved one. And, sadly, there are also senseless catastrophes caused by the evildoing of mean-hearted people.

It is reassuring to know that none of these situations are a surprise to God. In fact, our Heavenly Father gives us words of comfort for such times. In John 16:33 we read, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. You will have sufferings in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

As parents, you wish to protect your children from the grim circumstances that are happening in our world. However, kids often hear of these events from their friends, in classroom discussions, or through the media before you know they’re aware of the situation. Although there is the desire to explain these difficult conditions to your child, be careful to temper details according to his age and level of understanding.

Here are a few guidelines that can make these frightening situations easier to get through with your children:

  • Keep daily schedules intact. Children find security in routine. As much as possible, continue your child’s normal procedures with school, home, church, and friends. Doing this will show your child that God helps us deal with everything that comes along in our lives and that we can move forward.
  • Discuss tragedies appropriately. It’s not healthy to offer unnecessary traumatic information to children. But if your child asks you questions related to the event, answer her questions as simply as possible — giving enough information to satisfy but not so much as to bring about more distress.
  • Explain events on your child’s level of understanding. Even preschool-aged children realize the concept of good and bad choices. You can relate information, even that of evil behavior, in terms of people making bad choices. Remind your child that God loves all people, and that He wants us to make good and right choices in relationship with Him and to others in society.
  • Offer comforting words from the Bible. Place a bookmark in your child’s own Bible where he can easily read promises that bring assurance to him when he feels unsettled about the unusual events that are happening. If he is unable to read on his own, then you can be ready to read the verses to him as well as explain what they mean. A few comforting passages of Scripture include:
    • “Casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
    • “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
    • “I will not leave you as orphans, I am coming to you” (John 14:18).

The next time you encounter tragedy, trust that God will help you as you seek to bring about understanding and give comfort to your children. Most often, kids find peace in homes where parents rely on God for their strength. Pray, alongside your children, for God to take care of families who are affected by tragedy and to protect your family as well.

Dixie Walker is a freelance writer of Christian family ministry resources. She and her family reside in Nashville, Tenn.

This article appears in full on pages 8-10 of the March 2018 issue of ParentLife. To order the current issue, click here. To subscribe, click here.

Sick Kids and Self Doubt by Jessie Weaver

When Libbie was about a year old, I was living with her by myself in our condo in Nashville. My husband was in Chattanooga during the workweek, and I was waiting on our condo to sell. (Ha. That’s been a year and a half. Still own it.)

Libbie was playing around our kitchen island, and I picked her up. And knocked her forehead into the edge of the island.

Libbie wailed. I wailed. I felt like the Worst Mother of the Year award was right there for my taking. And I called my pediatrician’s office, who called my doctor, and then my doctor called me. Just so I could find out, really, it wasn’t that big of a deal. As long as she had a bump, it was OK.


This weekend I’ve been attending to a baby with a mid-grade fever … not quite high enough to panic, not quite low enough to feel at ease with. I find myself in the same battle I always face: should I call the doctor? Is it a big deal? Sure, I’m supposed to trust my mother’s intuition … but I think it’s a little clouded by the worry a mother has for her sick babies.

The self-doubt is my least favorite part of parenting.

It makes me even more glad that my husband and I are not in it alone. Not only do we have friends, family, a church that loves us, Dr. Google, and Twitter, MD—we have a Heavenly Father who cares for us and our kids.

“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

For some reason, it’s struck me as beautiful lately how God and Jesus are Father and Husband—the two things Jesus was not literally on this earth. God, as Trinity, fulfills every role to us. He is beyond measure.

Because of this, I can muster up some confidence. And if I fall flat on my face as a parent, or go to the doctor when it’s just the sniffles … well, both God and the pediatrician will forgive.

originally published june 2011

When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three kids under 5.

Daylight Savings Torture … I Mean, Time

With the “delightful” Spring forward happening this weekend, I thought this post was worth re-sharing and seeing if anyone has any tips!

I’ve certainly heard it and thought it a million times: “Time changes were created by someone who doesn’t have children.”


Trying to get children adjusted to a suddenly adjusted schedule can be daunting at best and torturous at worst. No one wants to go to bed when it’s light outside. Hopes of a later bedtime meaning a later wake-up are often crushed by disoriented toddlers.

Here are some tips on getting your children adjusted to the time change:

  • Don’t skip naps in hopes of having your child go to sleep earlier. Overtired children often resist sleep.
  • If your child is old enough to understand, explain the time change and why it began. Not only will this help them understand why it is light outside at 8 p.m., it makes a great history lesson at home!
  • Don’t be too stringent about bedtime the first week after the time change. Let kids go to sleep 30-45 minutes later than normal and edge back toward their regular bedtime. Keep their routine the same, though, because those steps can communicate “bedtime” more than outside conditions.
  • My friend Kat suggests having your child use a sleeping mask as young as age 4. This helps block out sunlight and allows them to get to sleep despite light coming in the windows. She said it really did the trick for her daughter!

Also interesting is that exercise helps your body produce seratonin, which aids in resetting your internal clock. So if you are having difficulty adjusting yourself, a good workout might be the remedy!

Do you have any tried-and-true tips for maintaining sanity during the time change?

Sources: Fox Birmingham, “Make Little Changes to Help Kids with Daylight Savings”
The Examiner, “Adjusting to Daylight Savings Time”

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

10 Ways to Be a Global Soccer Mom by Shayne Moore

mom at soccer game

About eight years ago, I became a member of ONE. ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. At the time I had three young children at home. Through my involvement with ONE, I began to learn about what life is like for moms and families in Africa who struggle against preventable disease and extreme poverty. These realities broke my heart and I soon found myself getting involved.

Here are some things I have learned which are effective for real change for moms and families in the developing world. I may still find myself driving car pool, supervising homework, and stuck doing mountains of laundry; but these simple things—when we do them together—add up to make a difference.

  • Become a member of ONE. By becoming a member of ONE, you are immediately in the conversation, receiving e-mail alerts, blogs, and “What We’re Reading” lists. ONE does the sifting of information and delivers articles and points of action in manageable pieces for the everyday mom.
  • Read books, blogs, and articles to expand your understanding of extreme poverty and global disease and how to combat them effectively. Visit
  • Support small indigenous projects like World Bicycle Relief or Growers First. Find organizations run by the people for the people. Give of your resources and your time.
  • Join Facebook “causes” pages of your favorite organizations and follow them on Twitter. In this age of online social networks, we have unprecedented ways to receive and share information quickly and effectively.
  • Participate in a local HIV/AIDS walk/run, or any race or marathon to raise money for your favorite cause.
  • Learn who your Congressional representatives are and write letters to them expressing your concerns. Did you know your representatives keep local office hours and you can make appointments to talk to them in person about what is important to you?
  • Get involved locally with issues of poverty and HIV/AIDS. Reach out to the HIV/AIDS community around you and encourage your church to do the same.
  • Buy (RED) products, where proceeds go to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. (RED) products can be found at places like Starbucks, Apple, Dell, Converse, Hallmark, American Express, and Gap.
  • Get involved with World Vision and its Women of Vision programs. Sponsor an at-risk girl, and she will get an education through twelfth grade. The single best way to get a nation out of poverty is to educate its girls. Learn how World Vision fights to stop gender-based violence and how it fights for gender equality with a goal of empowering both men and women in areas ravaged by poverty and disease.
  • One last thing you can do? Read Global Soccer Mom with a group of friends and work through the discussion questions at the back. Learn together how to make a real difference in our world!

Want to win a copy of Global Soccer Mom and get started changing the world? We have five copies of the book to share with our ParentLife Online readers. To enter, tell us in the comments: which of the above options most appeals to you and why?

Soccer mom photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.


Shayne Moore.jpgShayne Moore was raised in Wheaton, IL. After graduating from Wheaton College Shayne moved to Los Angeles during the riots to teach school in the inner city. After returning home Shayne slowly completed a Master of Arts in Theology while her children were babies. Shayne still lives in Wheaton with her husband John and three children, JD (15), Greta (12), and Thomas (9), spending most of her days driving carpool and doing mountains of laundry.

Moore is an author, blogger, speaker, mama of three, and outspoken advocate in the fight against extreme poverty and Global AIDS. Shayne is one of the original members of the ONE Campaign.


Winners will be picked June 15, 2011. One comment person person, please. USA only. LifeWay employees are not eligible to win.



Fun Friday Photo — May 27, 2011

1st Grade Assignment: For the 100th day of school, dress like you think you will look when you are 100 years old.
Observation: Looks pretty good for 100, but he still won’t tuck his shirt in!

Christopher_1.jpgThanks to William S. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

Baby Movers by Joy Fisher

For our June 2011 issue, Joy Fisher wrote the article "Kids on the Move: Making Family Relocation Easier on Children" (p. 24). Here are some more tips from Joy on moving when you have younger children.

Our residential homeowner’s association held a block party not long ago. The realtor who helped us with the sale of our last home and the purchase of our current home lives a few streets away. Chatting with her at the picnic brought back memories of that moving process: we had a 2-year-old son and another baby on the way when we put our house on the market. When we finally moved (a whopping 3-mile trip), our second son was 3 months old.


"We're Moving!"



If you are parents of preschoolers and planning a move, try these tips for a smooth transition:

  • Pack the clutter. Selling a house where preschoolers live can be tricky. Potential buyers don’t really want to see your stroller parked in the entry hall and baby bottles covering every inch of kitchen counter space. When your house is on the market, pack away everything but the bare necessities. Recognize that there will be days when you will need to ask your realtor not to show the house so you can relax your housekeeping priorities for a few hours.
  • Be ready to go. Property showings can occur on a moment’s notice; keep some toys, books, and even snacks in the car for times when you must grab the kids and leave for an hour or so.
  • Hope for the best but plan for the worst on closing day. Signing all the papers at our closing took twice as long as we expected. The baby spit up on our realtor’s dry-clean-only suit, and we were all frazzled and grumpy by the time we were finally able to cap the pen and walk away. Don’t hesitate to ask for a break if you or your child needs it.
  • Enlist help for the actual move. Arrange for little ones to pass time with friends or family if at all possible. Surround your preschooler with a special blanket or lovey and other familiar comforts of home, and let him sleep in his crib or bed in the new digs as soon as possible after departure from your old home.
  • Keep routines. No doubt you will encounter logistical problems as you sell your home, pack, and move into a different home. Even if you feel exhausted and frustrated, try to keep your young child’s regular routines and interactions with you intact.
  • Trust God. Most of all, trust God to care and provide for your family as you relocate. Put finding a new church home at top of your must-do list if your move takes you away from your family of faith.

Do you have any tips for moving with preschoolers?

Joy Fisher and her husband David love the home where they have raised their three children for the past 8 years.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.


Fun Friday Photo — May 6, 2011

That is one sweet little lamb!!


Thanks to Julie L. for this great photo!

Photos wanted! Send us your funny, cute, or just plain fun pictures for our Fun Friday Photos. Each Friday we will post a new "Fun Friday Photo." E-mail your photo and a suggested caption describing the photo to Visit the blog each Friday to see if your photo was chosen!

You’re Not Alone, Mom!

Chasing SuperwomanIn the May 2011 issue, our article "Looking for a Safety Net?" talks about the kind of mom friends you need in your life.

If you can’t find a way to meet regularly with friends, at least take time to read their blogs! There are tons of great mom Web sites out there to help you network and remind yourself you are not in this alone. Here are a few of our favorite Mom “reads” in book and Web site form.



Do you have a favorite mom blog or book about being a mom? I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my own imperfect-mom blog, Vanderbilt Wife. Hope you’ll pay me a visit! – Jessie

Not About the Eggs by Jessie Weaver

Easter Eggs 2

I went to Target on Saturday night to get diapers.

Every inch of the store is filled with bring Spring colors, plastic eggs, pastel-wrapped candies, bunnies, and baskets. Easter dresses and tiny three-piece suits fill the childrens section and Easter cards line the aisle. Egg plates. Roasting pans for clove-studded hams. Banners and flags and picture frames that all proclaim, “Happy Easter!”

It literally turned my stomach.

I have nothing against Easter egg hunts and baskets and dresses and Cadbury cream eggs are one of my favorite annual treats. But it feels like just another holiday we’ve morphed into a reason to buy cards, candy, and clothes. Another time for our kids to feel like they “deserve” something.

I know what I deserve: eternal separation from God, separated from Him by the blackness of my sin.

One of my favorite quotes is from Craig Groeschel’s book Confessions of a Pastor:

“If God were fair, I’d get what my sins deserve. I praise Him that He’s not fair … God is just, but He’s not fair. If He were fair, I’d have to suffer … forever.”

These next two weeks, I want to keep my focus on the reason we celebrate: the Resurrection that saved me from eternal death. My kids are a little young to understand being saved from their sins, but I want to start the tradition now of concentrating on Christ. I’m reading my 2-year-old the stories of The Last Supper, The Triumphant Entry, and Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection from every kids Bible we have in our house. She may not get it, but the words are there. The Word, instilled in her little heart.

How do you keep your kids focused on the true reason for Easter?

When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after two little ones: Libbie (2) and David (4 months).


The Why and Ways of Spoiling

In our April issue, we featured the article, "Keep It Fresh! The Dangers of Spoiling Your Children" by Carrie Bevell Partridge. The article has some great advice on breaking the cycle of spoiling, but to help us understand it more fully, here are lists of the WHYS and WAYS we spoil.

Photo# 1884

Why You Spoil Your Child

  • Not wanting her to dislike you
  • Fearing tantrums, which will embarrass you
  • Wanting to have a happy child, which makes you look like a “good parent”
  • Wanting to give her things to help her enjoy life
  • Wanting to keep her quiet or to eliminate conflict
  • Being too lazy to discipline
  • Fearing saying “No” to a sick child
  • Having an “I never had … so my kids will have everything” attitude
  • Convenience
  • Wanting her to have what other children have
  • Wanting her to be well-liked or to fit in with peers
  • Wanting to be a “cool” parent
  • Feeling guilty for not spending enough time with her
  • Wanting to build her self-esteem


Ways You Spoil Your Child

  • Always letting her have whatever she wants, whenever she wants
  • Never saying “No” and meaning it
  • Not giving her any experience in working or waiting
  • Not challenging her on thoughts or actions
  • Allowing her to dictate what she will eat at meals
  • Giving her certain items just because “everyone has them”
  • Being her friend instead of her parent
  • Putting her needs ahead of your spouse’s needs on an ongoing basis
  • Continually bailing her out when she gets in trouble, makes poor decisions, or is irresponsible
  • Dropping everything to listen to her when she demands it
  • Allowing her to treat you as her servant

Do you think these are accurate? What would add or take away?

**Remember, this is the last day to enter the March giveaway!

Photo by Tammra McCauley; used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.