how to talk to kids about hard truths

When your children encounter death in a personal way, you cannot protect them from pain.

You can consult experts. You can rehearse what to say. You can pray for guidance.

But eventually you have to sit down and have hard conversations. 

Over the years, we’ve had more conversations about death and grief with our kids than I care to count. But today when I hear our children talk naturally about death and heaven, I realize that we have done them a great service in having difficult conversations.

They are conversant about loss and grief at age-appropriate levels. They are unafraid to ask big questions about God and faith. They know they can bring us any emotion without fear or shame.

Of course, such tough topics were not tackled in a single evening. We have fumbled through many rounds of questions, wishing we could move on to safer, smoother subjects.

But we knew the hard conversations had to happen. 

Today in the Catholic Church, parents are wondering how to talk with their kids, big and small, about the scandals of sexual abuse and cover-ups. Such evil acts and systemic horror are difficult for adults to understand, let alone translate for younger hearts.

How I wish I had easy answers and quick solutions, but none exist.

All we can do is keep talking, keep pressing for accountability, keep working for change, keep crying out for justice.

For my part, I’m giving thanks for colleagues who remain committed to being wise leaders in the church. I’m grateful to be part of grassroots efforts like The Works of Mercy Fund – which will be running another auction this week to raise money in support of victims of clergy sexual abuse.

I also wrote my latest column for Catholic News Service on how to start these hard conversations within our families:

“Much as we may wish to shield our children entirely, we cannot. The world is broken in more ways than we can count. As youth grow, they will come to know these hard and horrible truths, too.

So how can we broach this topic faithfully at home? Here are three ways to start the hard conversations about what’s happening in our church.”

Read the rest at The Catholic Spirit – or your local Catholic paper.

How are you talking with the children, teens, and young adults in your life about what’s happening within the church?

I’ll be on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air on Tuesday, Sept. 25th, at 7:45 ET to talk about this important topic. Listen live here.

(And how can you not love these calls to action from the brilliant Christy at A Creative Almanac?)

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