Parenting tips to help kids cope

Kids often have many questions and concerns following a tragedy or community violence.

Here are some parenting tips:

Given that every child is a unique creation of God, parents should adjust their responses given each child’s age, developmental level, and personality

a. especially for emotionally sensitive kids prone to worry or sadness

Keep discussions of the details of the tragedy or violence to a minimum. Emphasize the measures taken to restore safety.

a. Minimize exposure to media accounts on tv, radio, electronics, conversations amongst adults

b. Emphasize the bravery of police, fire fighters, soldiers. Note their coordinated efforts.

If your child has questions about the event, answer them honestly, but briefly.

a. Don’t lie, as you want your children to know that they can always trust you.

Pay attention to your child’s feelings in response to the incident. They may feel sad, mad, worried, or confused.

a. Validate these emotions as they are all appropriate under the circumstances.

b. Effectively manage your own reaction as a parent, as your children are taking important cues from you about how to respond.

c. Remember that you set the tone as the parent.

Encourage positive coping skills such as praying, talking, writing, drawing, playing, and exercising.

Children might want to offer to help. Channel their energy in positive ways, such as praying for victims and their families, sending cards of encouragement to those impacted, or donating a portion of their allowance.

Spend time reflecting on Scripture that reassures us that God is still in control, and has good plans for us.

If changes in sleep, appetite, mood, behavior persist, consider consulting a professional such as a counselor or pediatrician for additional guidance.

Sheryl Cowling is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in children, adolescents, trauma, and multicultural counseling.

Scripture comfort in adversity

God is sovereign even in adversity. God is still in control.

John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.

God doesn’t want us to worry or be afraid. He will help us.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Philippians 4: 6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Use the help God gives to help others.

Romans 12: 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Sheryl Cowling is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in children, adolescents, trauma, and multicultural counseling.

All about Daddy and me

Elliana Bourman, age three, answers questions from her mom, Melanie, about her dad, Jonathan Bourman, one of Heart to heart‘s contributing authors.

‪Melanie: Does your daddy love you?

Elliana: Yup!

Melanie: How do you know?

Elliana: Because he tells me.

Melanie: What is your daddy’s job?

Elliana: I don’t remember.

Melanie: Daddy is a pastor, remember?

Elliana: Oh, yeah. He’s a pastor.

Melanie: What does Daddy do as a pastor?

Elliana: He stands on top and talks a lot.

Melanie: What does Daddy teach you about Jesus?

Elliana: That he washed my sins all gone.

Melanie: What is your favorite Bible story that Daddy has read to you?

Elliana: I like the big storm [Jesus calms the storm] and baby Jesus away in a manger.

Favorite memories of our dad

Kayla (14 years old) and Josh (11 years old) reminisce about special times that they spend with their dad, Dan Nommensen, a contributing author for Heart to heart.

When I was about seven and eight, my dad took me up north a couple times to a cottage that my great uncle used to live in. On our four-hour drive up to the cottage, we had a great time singing camp songs, talking, and telling stories and jokes.

Kayla and her dad, Dan.

Kayla and her dad, Dan.

When we got up there, it was usually dark. Being the great dad he is, he let me trudge in while he took everything in out of the cold. He lit the fire, and we watched the temperature slowly rise, degree by degree. Then, after about an hour-and-a-half of sorting, putting things in the fridge, and setting up heaters, he would finally get the bed ready and we would hop in. We sometimes watched a movie on the small screen of the portable movie player. Then we’d go to bed after saying prayers.

In the morning, I got up to a nice, warm, handmade meal. He already had everything set up and ready for us to eat and go. We then got our fishing things on and walked down to the lake just as the sun was rising. We got into the rocky boat with cobwebs and all and floated off. Dad rowed while we searched for the perfect place to cast our lures. When I finally threw a lure out with as much strength as I could, it would go off course or cross Dad’s line, but he always said, “That was a good one,” and helped me do it correctly.

I loved having those times with my dad. I love my dad and am thankful that I have such a loving Christian father to always watch over me.

Kayla Nommensen

At night when my dad tucks me in we pray five special prayers, including one in German and the English meaning that he learned from his dad. My dad learned two prayers from his mom that we also pray. Then Luther’s evening prayer. This is special to me because he is passing them on to me from his parents, my grandparents, that I didn’t get to know. He plays basketball with me, and he plays Wii with me. He is very patient with me. My dad is special because he helps me get through tough times, and I love him very much.

Josh Nommensen

A lesson from my dad

He listened quietly and patiently while I poured out my frustrations concerning the new place I was living. Out tumbled discontent with my job, the church, the choir, the location, and more. When I finished my long string of aggravations, there was a brief pause. Then, “Well, I am sorry to hear all of that. Life isn’t always easy, nor what you had hoped. But, God does have a plan and purpose for your life there. Grow where you are planted, Rachel.”

Rachel and her dad, James.

Rachel and her dad, James.

As we hung up the phone I have to admit I was far from satisfied with Dad’s answers. I don’t really know what I was hoping for, but “grow where you’re planted” was not it. At least that is what I thought in that moment.

As I considered what he said, I realized it was what Dad had been teaching me all along—through new family houses, financial hardships, the anxiety of his pastoral calls, different schools, moving hours away for college and law school, breakups, and job loss. It was, in fact, even an intrinsic part of my confirmation verse that he, as my pastor, had chosen: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). The context for this Bible passage was the Lord finally allowing the Israelites to enter the promised land of Canaan. God gave them the promised land but didn’t promise them a perfect life in that land.

Dad has shown me this throughout my life.

God puts us in certain places and situations for a reason. We can either follow God’s command to not be afraid and discouraged, living our lives to reflect his love and be joyful in our circumstances—or wallow in self-pity and push away our loving God who has plans beyond measure for us.

Life has changed significantly since that phone call. I have since married; become a mom of four children; moved two more times to two different states, two different churches, and three different companies, yet I continue to apply Dad’s advice.

Rachel Learman is the daughter of James Aderman, one of Heart to heart‘s contributing authors.