During troubling times, today’s headlines can easily become tonight’s dinner chatter. I generally try to avoid this, for a number of reasons I outline below.
However, if I want to be an engaged father, I can’t simply pretend my sons will have no trouble in this world. I continually wrestle with finding the right balance here.
I consider a few questions before trotting out top news stories over a family meal:
- We have a wide range of boys at the table – age 5 to 16. Can I make the discussion relevant and appropriate for everyone?
- I don’t believe we make forward progress by focusing on evil. Will this story have some redeeming value or edify us somehow?
- I can’t wrap my head around the pain mankind inflicts on itself. Can the story be effectively processed by young (or old) minds?
- I may not even know the latest, since I rarely belly up to the buffet of murder and scandal we call “news”. Do I know the facts?
- There is nothing new under the sun – people will hurt each other, sin is rampant, Christ is our only hope. Is this news really new?
Only a couple things spur me to cover negative news stories with my family:
- Does it impact their imminent safety? If my boys frequent a local establishment and there are reports of an unstable man making the rounds, I may want to give them a heads up and talk about specific ways they can stay safe.
- Is there some action I can expect us to take? Each September 11th, we discuss evil and how it lures people into treachery (be on your guard!). We also recall stories of heroism that remind us good people still live here (be one of those people!).
I recognize some will suggest I’m the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand. They wonder, “How can your boys be expected to survive in a world if they do not understand the pitfalls they might experience?” I appreciate the point.
However, my teenage son just started driving. As part of the process, he saw a video on the destructive results of drunk driving. Should he queue up that video on his iPhone each morning as he brushes his teeth?
Do we really believe our society is under-informing our children of this world’s craziness? I think not. If anything, we pour too much darkness and debauchery on top of their mashed potatoes each night.
I think fathers are in a unique position to help our children interpret current events in light of God’s Word and His Plan for our lives. In talking with our sons and daughters about current events, let’s not waste the opportunity by just rehashing the problem.
Instead, let’s remind them that there is only one hope for this lost and dying world – Jesus Christ. He will come back soon.
And, that will be news worth talking about.