Home Outreach Leaders How Can Fathers Talk to Their Children About Significant Events?

How Can Fathers Talk to Their Children About Significant Events?

fathers significant events

Faced with political confusion, economic turmoil, a global pandemic, and the disruption of just about every normal routine of life, many parents have felt ill-equipped to get through these times, let alone talk to their children about significant events. But as Christians have learned to expect, when we feel the most helpless, God is the most helpful. So what should we say to our children about events like those we’ve faced this year and similar events that I’m sure we will continue to face in the future? I’ll offer some observations, not as an expert but as a fellow traveler and father.

Far and away, the most helpful assistance a father can offer his children who are trying to understand noteworthy events is helping them to see the reality of God in every detail of this world and their lives. Everything around them is calculated to make God seem unreal, distant, and uncaring. The world invites them to consider reality as basically atheistic. A wise father will challenge this godless assumption by teaching his children to see every major happening that captivates their attention in the light of God (Ps. 36:9).

What, specifically, should we teach our children (even if they’re grown) about God? Chief among His many attributes we should highlight is the truth of God’s sovereignty. Children, not to mention adults, crave certainty. The world scorns this craving as an infantile, unobtainable desire. But God wants us to be sure about many things, not the least of which is His absolute control of all that comes to pass.

Again, our children are being bombarded with the message, “God is not sovereign. You are on your own in this harsh world.” To drown out this cacophonic jangling of falsehood, fathers must open their Bibles and walk their children through the countless passages that proclaim the life-giving truth of God’s sovereignty. Maybe we start with the majestic prose of Isaiah 40:12–17. Or maybe we turn to the blunt but pastoral teaching of James 4:14–17. Wherever we choose to turn in the Word, fathers who point their children to the reality of the sovereign God are offering them a bedrock for a lifetime of faith and trust.

But the question then becomes, “Why do we want to be certain?” One reason is that we live in a world that gives us good cause to be afraid. When crisis strikes or when world-altering events take place, our first instinct is fear. All of us want to know that everything is going to be OK. Focusing on God’s sovereignty helps us and our children understand that everything ultimately will be OK, even if it won’t be OK immediately. In short, we are calling them to put their faith in the One who controls everything that makes us afraid. We are asking them to listen to the Savior, whose favorite command is “Do not be afraid.” There is no one safer for us to listen to in uncertain times.

We must also remind our children of God’s inexhaustible love. A sovereign God who does not love is a tyrant, and a loving God who is not sovereign is pitiful and powerless. Fortunately for us, the Bible tells us that God is both sovereign and loving.

Therefore, the surest way to help our children understand monumental happenings is to bring them to the cross, where God’s sovereignty and love meet most perfectly. We tell our children the old, old story, but we apply it to their hearts specifically. We teach them that even something as horrifying as the death of the sinless Son of God was part of God’s sovereign plan (Acts 2:23). At the same time, it was the Father’s love that sent the Son to offer Himself by the eternal Spirit as atonement for sinners like us (John 3:16Heb. 9:14). The cross of Christ is the beautiful, paradoxical intersection of divine sovereignty and love.

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Dr. Gabriel N.E. Fluhrer is senior pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tenn. He is editor of Atonement and Solid Ground and author of "Alive: How the Resurrection Changes Everything."