As anyone who spends time around young children knows, the number of questions they ask on a daily basis can be overwhelming. As they are trying to figure out this great big world, they can find 10 ways to ask the question “Why is the sky blue?” This asking of questions is such a wonderful thing and indicates they are growing intellectually, but sometimes you get those questions that don’t have an easy answer. Here is the latest from our household: “Mama, why did the fire break that house? Is there going to be fire on our house when I wake up in the morning?”
You see, a family in our neighborhood suffered a terrible tragedy when their beautiful new home caught on fire and was destroyed. Thankfully, all of the family got out of the house safely. The fire started in the late evening time as Mr. J was getting ready for bed. The quiet calm of the evening was broken by the sirens of numerous fire engines wailing as they sped to the home. When he looked out his window, the flames could be seen leaping from the house as it was just around the corner. And, as you can imagine, then came the inevitable questions.
“When a child asks a question that we ourselves are also asking, it can be difficult to muster up the words to try to provide an answer.”
The next morning, and every morning since, we drive by the “broken house” in order to leave our neighborhood. I remember on that first morning Mr. J asked, “Why did God cause there to be fire on that house?” When a child asks a question that we ourselves are also asking, it can be difficult to muster up the words to try to provide an answer. Sometimes “I don’t know, Sweetheart” is the only plausible explanation.
“Our kids depend on us to provide reassurance in a world of uncertainty even if, on the inside, we might be just as worried or afraid as they are.”
It is questions like these that give me a lump in my throat as it once again reminds me of my vulnerability as a parent. I wish with all of my heart that I could promise to my children that nothing bad will ever happen to them. I wish that no parent had to explain why there are shootings at schools, or why bad weather can destroy a town, or why September 11th is such an important day to learn about in history class. But, alas, this one falls into the parenting duty that is difficult but yet so important. As parents, we must be able to offer our children comfort when it comes to difficult times or unfortunate situations. Our kids depend on us to provide reassurance in a world of uncertainty even if, on the inside, we might be just as worried or afraid as they are.
So while the answers might be the same every night- “Mama doesn’t know why there was a fire at that house, but I do know that God protected that family from the fire” and “Yes, Daddy checked our roof tonight to make sure there is no fire.”- it is the process of patiently providing reassurance that helps children continue to grow and feel safe in their ever changing world.