As parents, we have the difficult yet beautiful task of raising children for the kingdom of God. Every day is filled with its own set of joys and challenges, accompanied of course by the hundreds of questions that each child seems to ask.
I think for most of us, the thought of having to talk to our kids about tough moral issues like abortion and euthanasia sends momentary panic through our system. It’s hard to imagine what we would say to our six year old about topics that they shouldn't even be thinking about, and yet the culture we live in makes it almost unavoidable. We want our children to be raised in the truth of what the Church teaches, and that is why we as parents need to be prepared to have these important discussions with our kids.
Here are a few things to remember when discussing tough moral issues with young children:
You have what it takes!
As a parent, you have the grace to teach and guide your child, especially when it comes to difficult topics like abortion and euthanasia. Your children need to hear the truth first come from you, and not from their friends or the media because it will likely be a skewed version of the truth. Your answers do not need to be perfect, but it’s your role as the primary educators of your children to tell them the truth.
Initiate the conversations.
Kids are being rapidly educated by secular society and are exposed regularaly to images and information through their peers or through their devices. In order for your kids to grow up into healthy adults, you cannot take a hands-off approach to parenting. Your child may be too nervous or shy to ask about things they don’t understand or know to be wrong, and you need to be the one to take the lead. There are age appropriate ways to bring up these discussions, and they
Always emphasize the Good, True and Beautiful.
When it comes to topics like abortion and euthanasia, it deals with the beautiful and glorious gift of life! You should start every conversation with a reminder of how precious each person is and how much God loves us. How in depth you go depends on the age of the child, their maturity levels, and what their questions are. However, regardless of what the question is, you need to begin by emphasizing the goodness and dignity of each human person.
Don’t ignore the situation.
Sometimes we fall under the assumption that if we don’t acknowledge a situation, it’ll just go away or the child will forget about it. Although that strategy might seem to work for a time, your kids will inevitably start looking for answers in other places. You don’t want them getting educated on moral issues through social media or by their friends at school. If you can’t answer a question in the moment they ask it, then just tell them as soon as you are able. Make sure to follow through, as they are unlikely to remind you again. If possible, have these conversations with your spouse as well so that it shows you are both on the same page. This will help build trust with your child so that they will turn to both of you for answers even in their middle and high school years.
Don’t be afraid! We know how hard these moral issues are to talk about, but the reality is that this is the world our kids are being raised in. It is so important that you start these conversations when your children are young, always with a focus on how special and precious each person is. Kids understand the beautiful gift of life!
If you feel like you have no idea what you would say to your child about abortion and euthanasia, here are a couple practical examples that you could pull from. What you say doesn’t have to be long or too detailed, but it does need to speak the truth about what is happening. Use at your discretion depending on the age and maturity of your child.
You may have heard the word “abortion”, mentioned at school, church or perhaps in the news. Abortion is killing a baby inside a mother’s womb before he/she is born. God says: You shall not kill! Many people believe that the baby isn’t a real person until after it’s born, but that isn’t true. God placed a soul in our little bodies at the very moment that we were created. Each tiny baby is its very own person, and the mother’s womb is meant to be a safe place for them to grow. It’s very important that we pray for those who might be thinking about having an abortion. We can ask God to help pregnant mothers accept the gift of their precious baby that is given to them by God. If a mom doesn’t think that she can take care of her baby, then she can choose to allow her baby to live with a different family. It’s called adoption, and it is a great option if the mother is not able to care for her child.
You may have heard the word Euthanasia talked about before. Euthanasia is intentionally ending the life of a person who is sick, dying or disabled. It’s important to know that only God can choose when it’s time for someone to die. God has a special plan and purpose for every person, even though it may include suffering and pain. Suffering can bring us closer to God. We need to remember to pray for all those who suffer, and for the doctors and nurses who care for them. We can all work together to take good care of people who are dying, so that they know they are loved. We can ask God to help people recognize the beauty and value of all people who are sick and people with disabilities.
Our Birthday Blast VBS program is designed to help kids develop an awareness and love for the gift of life. Each day focuses on a theme: Discover life, Respect life, Protect Life, Serve life, and Celebrate Life. We do not talk about abortion and euthanasia specifically, but rather show the kids what a gift each person is to the world. There has been so much great feedback from families and parishes who have hosted this program, and we can only hope and pray that it will continue to inspire the next generation of Catholics to promote the dignity of every human person.