How Do I Talk To My Child About ‘Hard Things’
Like Afghanistan, and The Suffering We See All Around Us Every Day?
September 14, 2021 | Nicole Chavers Stratton
This world is hard. There is no denying that. There is also no denying that it is growing harder and harder by the day and even hour at times. The pressures of COVID, and the current events of Afghanistan, as well as all the unrest we are experiencing on a daily basis in our country is hard enough for us to navigate as adults, but what about the children?
If you’re a parent, you’ve most likely been fighting hard to “keep things as normal as possible,” through this “new normal” we’ve all found ourselves in. We are fighting to preserve as much of our children’s happy, innocent childhood as we can. We want them to run free and play as we did when we were children, not be shut up in isolation, masked and afraid of living life. COVID has truly complicated things, and as if that hasn’t been enough, we are now being bombarded with news about the tragedies in Afghanistan as well as other disturbing current events, and it can all engender fear and uncertainty in our hearts. As parents, we try to keep these burdens from our children, but no matter how hard we try to protect them from all of this, it’s everywhere. So what do we do? Should we avoid the subject of hard things with our children or should we discuss it? And if we discuss it, how should we go about it? What kind of answers can we give to help them navigate such difficult waters?
I believe we should discuss such things with our children and here are my reasons why, as well as a few tips for how we can help our children gain a heavenly perspective on the hardships of life.
Light in the Darkness
One of the ways we can help our children process difficult things is to focus their minds, not on the frightening “unknown” but rather on true stories and lessons from God’s Word that we DO know and we can apply to today’s situations. One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of Esther. She was brought to a very wicked kingdom “for such a time as this,” and that is the truth that I want to draw your attention to right now. You see, God knew when you and your children would be born, and the challenges you would face in these times. He could have chosen Esther to be here, or David, or Daniel, or any great hero from the past for that matter, but He didn’t. He chose you and your child to live right now. Your lives matter to God. He believes that you are worthy to be His light bearers in this ever-darkening world! Show your children that God chose them to live right now. Teach them that just like Esther, God has a purpose for their life as well. Express to them that He has something for them to do to dispel the darkness they are seeing all around them. Show them that He will use them just as He used the men and women of old if they are willing to let Him, and if you do, you will not only have talked to them about ‘hard things’ you will have given them an incredible gift—-the gift of Hope and Purpose!
One of Satan’s main tools is isolation. He works to make us feel like we are all alone. He wants us to feel like we are the only ones who believe this way, or the only ones who are suffering. But we must remember that he is a liar. Everything he says is a lie! But while we know this, it can be hard for our children to recognize his lies. It is hard for them as young people to stand alone and go against the popular ideas of the day, even if they have been told that those ideas are wrong. One of the ways we can help our children navigate these feelings is by letting them know and experience stories of men, women, and children of the past who have also lived through difficult times, and were willing to stand alone. Reading books is good, but truly experiencing these stories and learning to love and respect people from the past will help them WANT to emulate those people! This is one of the main reasons we chose to write and produce our newest musical based on the life of Amy Carmichael, the missionary to India. We did not want to just do a play or make people laugh to escape the difficult realities they find themselves in. We wanted to give the families who came through our doors something more. We wanted to show them an example of someone who faced great hardship, and did so with immense courage, faith and spiritual passion.
Amy Carmichael’s life deserves to take center stage and our children need to see it! They need to feel the heat of India, the oppression of false religion, and the glorious hope that knowing Christ brings to a life. They need to see children their age willing to die for their faith, and the brave men and women who were willing to go and tell them of Him! They need to see that they are not alone! Others have lived through hard times and have stood against the majority when it was necessary to do so, and if people like Amy can do it, so can they!
I’ve always loved our play titled No Place To Flee. It is a gripping production highlighting families who lived during the communist rule in Russia, Bulgaria and East Germany. One of the lives it covers is the life of Georgi Vinns, a preacher in Russia who was married to Lydia Vinns, and had a son Georgi. Georgi grew up to become one of the greatest preachers in Russia and was put in concentration camps and eventually exiled to America with his family. In our play however, he is an 8 year old boy coming back from school to his small home. We show him with his father and mother on the last night he has with them before his father’s eventual arrest. One of the most gripping parts of this particular scene is when Georgi sees his mother sewing pages of an old Bible into his father’s coat. He also sees that she has once again begun saving a bag of dried bread crusts. To the audience these things seem rather insignificant, but to Georgi, these things were very familiar and were an ominous sign that soon, his father would be going back to prison. When he asks his mother and father if his ‘Papa’ would be going back to prison, I was amazed at their response. I expected them to hide it from him, and answer him vaguely, but they did not. They sat him down and answered him honestly—-”We do not know Georgi. We are only preparing. But if it does happen, and we are again bereft of your Papa, we will pray!” They go on to remind him how he prayed for his Papa the last time he was imprisoned and God answered his prayer by releasing his Papa. They end by encouraging their son that he did not need to be afraid. His Papa was in God’s hands, and no matter what happened to him, God would never leave them. He would walk through the fire with them and Georgi could help his Papa through the power of prayer. These dear Christians did not try to hide the harsh reality of the sufferings they were experiencing from their child but rather, they presented it to their son with hope and faith that God was with them and there was power in prayer!
The scene ends with soldiers taking Georgi’s Papa away to prison for the third and final time. Before they are able to take him fully out of the door, he pulls away and embraces his weeping son. He turns and looks with great passion into his eyes and says,
“Georgi, when the golden days of childhood have passed you by, and as a young man you turn your clear eyes into the land of your dreams, then, give up all your strength of will, all the dreams of your heart, your unpolluted life and destiny, everything, to His service!”
This line was taken directly from a letter that Peter Vinns wrote to his son from prison before his execution. Just think of this – think if this was you and your child. Would you have the spiritual courage to say such a thing to your child, knowing the cost that following Christ would require of them? Peter Vinns did not turn to his son and say, “Look at where serving God has gotten me, son! DON’T DO IT! Go live your life, and do something that will keep you safe and happy!” No, Peter Vinns had counted the cost and he knew it was more than worth the sacrifice he was being asked to make and he wanted his son to be willing to do the same!
We may not be under persecution ourselves, but I believe we can still speak to our children about the persecuted church around the world in this way, and encourage our children to not be afraid of sacrificing for Christ! We should hold these brave, dear believers up to our children as shining examples of what it looks like to truly trust Christ as your all in all!
My Dad would always say that reading the Bible is so important, but there is one thing better than reading it and that is studying/meditating on it, but then there was one thing better than studying/meditating on it, and that was memorizing it, but then there was one thing better than memorizing it, and that was becoming it!
Dad had such a philosophy of not just teaching our children to read the Bible but teaching them to BECOME the Bible. The motto of our ministry is “making the Bible come to life on stage and in hearts and minds” and that is why we do what we do at The Logos Theatre! You see, if we want our children to become brave, to have faith, and to live a life of obedience and purpose, we must show them others who have successfully done so! We must give them a pattern to follow, not only in our daily lives but in others’ lives from the past as well! Just talking ‘at’ or ‘to’ our kids isn’t going to do it, we must involve them in the message or truth! Watching a story come to life on stage or having them taking part in bringing that story to life impacts them on such a deeper level than them just hearing about it. Experiencing it affects not only their minds, but their hearts and eventually their wills, and that creates lasting spiritual change! We can’t be in this parenting thing to simply raise ‘nice’ kids. There is a difference between raising good kids, and raising godly kids and if we want more for our children, then we have to show them examples of others who have done BRAVE things for God! Amy Carmichael, Peter Vinns, Paul the Apostle, William and Dorothy Bradford, these are the kinds of heroes our children should be learning about and looking up to as their heroes! The Logos Theatre is dedicated to putting such lives on stage for you and your children to watch and be inspired by! If we want to create brave heroic children, we need to show them what true bravery and heroism looks like, and The Logos Theatre is a great place to show them just that! Stories like Amy Carmichael have the power to inspire children to be the heroes for Christ in their day and age, and to face hardship with bravery. Now that’s something to get excited about!
So how do we discuss ‘hard things’ with our children? How do we help them navigate the fears of COVID, Afghanistan and anything else that comes their way?
- We teach them that they have been CHOSEN by God for such a time as this.
- We remind them of the hope of heaven and that God’s Spirit is with them and they are never alone! His Word is their guide to teach them how to be the light He has placed them here to be.
- We show them examples of others who have lived their lives successfully for Christ amidst great trials and suffering, and we challenge them that they can do the same.
Now what if I told you that I had an opportunity that could help you do all these things I’ve listed above? Well, I do! You see, the Academy of Arts College students are mounting a musical on Amy Carmichael that will grip and inspire your children to live a life of bravery for Christ and they are performing it this weekend as well as next weekend! Bringing your children to see this production will help you begin crucial conversations with them and open up dialogue about loving Jesus with their whole heart! They will love the excellence of the storytelling in this musical as well as the impressive nature of the sets and staging but it is our prayer that most of all, it will give your children an example to follow! Let’s not hide our children away from the world, but let’s equip and prepare them to be the LIGHT in it!
About the Author
Nicole, the Artistic Director of the Academy of Arts Ministry, is the daughter of the founders of The Academy of Arts, Nicky and Sheri Chavers. She is a graduate of The Academy of Arts Christian Conservatory and received her Master of Sacred Fine Arts Degree in 2004. Nicole’s directing abilities were discovered at the age of 19 when she directed her first touring drama group which produced over 35 shows that year. She has been directing full scale dramas and musicals ever since that have involved well over 30,000 young people all across the country in full scale Christian productions. She has personally acted and sung in over 300 productions and has won numerous awards for acting, writing and filmmaking. After her students consistently won multiple national awards over the years for acting, she was recognized by the state of South Carolina for her excellence in teaching the arts, and was nominated to represent the United States with her students in the world’s largest fine arts festival in Edinburgh Scotland where they performed The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in the Churchill theatre. Nicole and her artistic team have written and produced over 4 professional musicals, such as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Silent Star, A Peep Behind the Scenes, The Child Stealer, along with 8 children’s musicals which have been performed on the Logos Theatre stage and around the country for several years. She may be best known though, for her work on the C.S. Lewis classic series of The Chronicles of Narnia, as she has been the first one to bring books such as Prince Caspian, and The Horse and His Boy, to the professional stage with her groundbreaking adaptations, and directing style. She and her team were honored to have Douglas Gresham, step-son of C.S. Lewis fly from the island of Malta to see and promote the premiere showings of these epic productions. Nicole was also delighted to gain Mr. Gresham’s endorsement to adapt the rest of the available books for the stage. Nicole enjoys all the work she is blessed to do at The Academy of Arts but her most exciting and thrilling job is being a wife to Noah Stratton (president of The Academy of Arts) and a mother to their son, Brinton. It is their family’s prayer that they can carry on the great work begun by Dr. and Mrs. Nicky Chavers at The Academy of Arts, and that they can continue making the Bible come to life, on stage and in hearts and minds for years to come.