As the eleventh anniversary of September 11 approaches, we’ll all remember where we were and what we were doing on that terrible day. (I saw the Twin Towers from a Queens highway on my commute to work just after the second plane hit.) Even those who were far from the horror or who didn’t personally know any of the victims still feel a deep sense of loss, sorrow and national pride.
Those of us who are parents of young children have the added difficult job of explaining to them what happened on that day and what it all means. It’s a tricky balancing act. We have to lay out the facts without being too graphic, use language they can understand and offer comfort and reassurance when we, ourselves, still feel so shaky more than a decade later.
Michelle Duggar‘s blog post for TLC this week doesn’t directly address 9/11, but she does explain how she helps her children deal with sorrowful and difficult times in their lives. And when you have 19 kids, that’s a lot of crises to deal with.
“We all have different things that weigh us down,” she writes. “And sometimes it’s tough, especially when it’s grief, fear or sorrow or painful, hurtful things – devastating things.”
And like any mom, she knows that she can’t shield her children from hurt. Even close-knit, loving families like the Duggars experience tragedies: both national ones, like 9/11, and personal ones, like the loss of their baby Jubilee nine months ago.
Michelle’s advice to her children is to turn their problems over to a higher power.
“I encourage my kids to talk and think about it, take it to the Lord because he said, ‘Come to me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ”
She adds that difficult times can sometimes lead people to turn from a righteous path. “When I look at the world I sometimes see destruction. I see painful choices that lead to devastating ends,” Michelle says. “I’ve told my kids that there’s a choice for every decision. And if we are not choosing to seek wise counsel, to turn our heart to God in every decision – little or big – then we’re going to face the consequences of that.”
Many parents tell their children do the same thing when faced with trials: trust that they can get through the hard times if they rely on divine guidance and stick to their principles. Others advise their children to lean on family and friends, or seek professional help, or heal through community service, creative projects or charity, or do all of the above.
How will Michelle and husband Jim Bob commemorate 9/11 tomorrow? Perhaps they’ll sit down with their children and discuss the events of that day. Oldest son Josh and teens Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger and Joseph may have some memories of hearing the news, but tweens Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah and Jason won’t. Six of the Duggars were born in the years after the attacks; 11-year-old James was barely two months old on that fateful Tuesday.
If their town is holding a memorial service, maybe they’ll attend, or perhaps they’ll spend the day doing community service. Certainly they’ll pray for the victims, their families, all those affected and America as a whole.
Whether or not we agree with their beliefs or lifestyle, we can certainly empathize with Michelle’s situation as she helps her large family process and deal with griefs large and small. We can also join with them as fellow Americans who must stand together – tomorrow and every day – to help keep this country strong.
What about you? How do you talk about 9/11 with your children?
[Photo: courtesy TLC]
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