Preparing to field a child’s questions about tragedy

That September morning after two airplanes hit the Twin Towers in New York City, I sat in my parents’ backyard, petting my dog and asking unanswered questions of a silent, blue sky. I remember thinking how glad I was that I wasn’t a mother yet because I wouldn’t know what to tell my children.
Here I am today. I’m a mother, and I am not any wiser or better prepared.
At 5 and 3, our sons aren’t old enough to know what happened on Sept. 11, or last December in Newtown, Conn., or today in Boston. They don’t know why Mama showed up at the end of the school day with a handful of peanut butter cups or why I wanted to squeeze each of them a little longer tonight.
One day—and I can see that moment looming on the horizon—we won’t be able to protect them from the news. And they will have questions.
What will I say? How can I help them understand why some people are drawn to evil? How can I explain why people commit violent acts against innocent people, even children? What words are there to help them comprehend?
And then tonight, in the midst of praying for the people affected and those who are helping them, I had a thought. Maybe it doesn’t make sense. Maybe it cannot be understood. And maybe I should worry less about explaining the horrors that are part of our world, and focus my efforts into helping our sons work toward good. After all, that is my role as their mother.
So when our sons come to me with questions, I am going to admit that I don’t have all the answers. Then we will talk about good and evil. I hope I can help our sons recognize the gifts God has given them, and realize that each of them has a mission, a purpose on this earth.
Only good can triumph over evil. As parents, we’ll try to do our part to make sure our children grow up to be for God, for good, for love, for life, and for a future full of peace and hope.
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Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.