How Do I Talk to My Child About Abortion?

“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” – Jeremiah 31:15

But is there weeping here in America?

A few heartbreaking statistics:

I say heartbreaking rather than shocking, because you’ve seen these statistic before. I have too. So often that it might be easy to just see numbers and forget what they really mean.

Let’s make it simple: 3,000 times a day a baby is killed, and at least 2,500 of them sacrificed on the altar of “don’t make my life more challenging.”

Abortion is again forefront on our national conscience. Planned Parenthood has been exposed by (as of now) eight videos, which implicate that not only are they America’s top abortion provider, but are also selling human fetal tissue for profit – a federal crime. The callous demeanor of the people in these videos just highlights how far we’ve strayed into the mire.

All the publicity and conversation generated by this has inspired some interesting conversations around my dinner table, and maybe around yours too. For parents of young children, it raises the question – How do I talk to my kids about this issue? How young is too young to explain it to them?

The problem we parents face is that we can never keep our kids insulated from the evils of the world. If they don’t hear about it from us, someday they’ll hear it elsewhere: A friend at school, a news program, a conversation you didn’t know they were overhearing. It is their nature to hear far more than we expect. If we can’t keep them from it, then we need to be proactive in teaching them about it.

When we approach a sensitive subject with our kids, it’s good to do so with lots of prayer. Ask the Lord to give you the words, and the grace to handle the questions appropriately. Remember that God has given your children to you; while that may seem like an awesome responsibility, it also means he isn’t going to leave you out to dry. God will equip you. At the same time, he wants us to be wise in our approach.

My wife and I have talked about this issue with our kids more than a few times, and young as they are, we think they get it. In fact, A. consistently declares that he is going to be president someday so that he can make abortion illegal. (Good goal, kiddo.) I feel pretty confident in approaching this, so here’s my suggestion for a simple way to explain the issue to your kids:

“Every child is a blessing from God. Sometimes people don’t know that, or sometimes they just don’t want to listen to God. They try to say that a baby in a mommy’s tummy isn’t really a baby. They have a doctor take the baby out before it’s time, and the baby dies. It’s very wrong, and very sad. But Jesus wants them to know that he loves them, even when they do this. He forgives them, and he wants us to let them know that he loves and forgives them. He also wants us to let everyone know that babies are a blessing.”

1. Every child is a blessing from God. Our culture has become so murky with the notion that the value of life is determined by its quality, or by how it came to be. Let’s give our kids the worldview that all life is precious, no matter the circumstances surrounding it.

2. Sometimes people don’t know that, or sometimes they just don’t want to listen to God. We want to teach our children how to see this with compassion. We also want them to recognize that people don’t see the world the same way we do. Sinful ignorance and sinful rebellion may be different attitudes, but they amount to the same thing – a failure to see the truth. This also helps our children understand why someone would do something we would consider horrible. “They just don’t know.”

3. They try to say that a baby in a mommy’s tummy isn’t really a baby. Let’s put our kids on guard against the sterilization of terms that we see all around us. “They use words like fetus and embryo and tissue to avoid saying what it is… a baby.” But once again, we want to build compassion in our children. The woman who has been convinced to have an abortion has been convinced to believe that it’s not a baby.

4. They have a doctor take it out before it’s time, and then the baby dies. This is, perhaps, the hardest part. How much do I tell my child about what is actually happening? Do I give details? Is there some way to sugar coat it?

I believe we need to be honest and straightforward with our children about what is happening. We’re often afraid they’ll be emotionally scarred by hearing what to us sounds gruesome. Remember that your child probably has no frame of reference. Unless they’ve witnessed childbirth and/or death, they probably will have a distorted (and possibly somewhat silly) mental image with all of this. And that’s okay. It means they won’t be traumatized by knowing what is happening, and in time they will get a clearer picture. Don’t hedge on the reality of what abortion is; your child is trusting you to give them an honest view of the world.

That doesn’t mean we need to go into gory details. Depending on the age of your child, you can keep it as simple as they are ready to handle. I think my phrasing here is good for kids as young as 2-4 years old. For older ones, maybe you need to explain a little more. However, it’s better to err on the side of simple, straight, and honest.

5. It’s very wrong, and very sad. We also want to be honest with our kids about the moral and emotional implications. No matter what you’ve heard, read, or been told, here’s the simple truth: Abortion is murder, and murder is wrong, and it always leaves scars. A woman doesn’t have an abortion and come out better the other side.

6. But Jesus wants them to know that he loves them, even when they do this. He forgives them. The worst reaction a Christian can have to abortion (other than accepting it) is to shout words of condemnation and loathing at those who have gone through it. Do you need to call it sin? Yes. Will you ever change a heart by telling a young woman how disgusted God is with her? No. Let’s make sure our kids grow up knowing that Jesus loves all sinners, and forgives all sinners. No matter what they’ve done. This is the most important message we can give our children.

7. He wants us to let them know that he loves and forgives them. Our job is not to change people’s actions so that they become more moral. Our job is to introduce them to Jesus. So when we confront the problem of abortion, the primary goal is to speak grace. That’s even more important than stopping abortion from happening, though stopping it is a good goal. You can earnestly reach out with the Gospel and also work to forbid abortion. But those who focus entirely on stopping it lose sight of the greater goal. So, keep the horse in front of the cart, and then you get both cart and horse where you want to go.

8. He also wants us to let everyone know that babies are a blessing. Don’t underestimate how much your child will want to help make a change. They can be a part of this. Donate time to a pregnancy center or march for life somewhere, or pray about this before going to bed at night. Those things honor God and are part of the mission. The pro-life movement has its place in this battle, and our little ones can be a part of that.

In the end, you know your child best, and you are the best person to tell him or her about abortion and what we can do about it. Be the voice of truth in your child’s life, and help them grow up to say what God says about this. Have you found some good strategies for helping your child understand this sensitive issue? Please use the comments section to share!

I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Jeremiah 31:34

What the Birth Control Debate is really about

The other day I received a letter from the benefit plans office that handles my health care. They wanted me to be informed about how the Affordable Care Act would and would not impact my health care plan, especially in regards to the issues surrounding mandatory birth control coverage and so on. My reaction as I read through the letter went from bland curiosity to mild concern to outright frustration.

The letter explained that while the ACA requires that all employers make birth control – including abortion-causing methods such as IUDs, the “morning after pill” and so on – available to all female employees, because we are a religious organization we are exempt from that “mandate.” (For clarification, my health care is handled through my church, which participates in a group health care plan for church workers). However, it went on to explain that because the ACA still requires these options to be available, our health care plan does include those options, but that portion is subsidized by the federal government.

So, we object to these abortion-causing birth control methods and neither want them available nor want our money to go to them, and the federal government responds by saying, “We will make them available, and you will just pay for them out of your taxes instead.”

In other words, they don’t get it. The problem isn’t whether or not the money comes directly out of our pockets. The problem is that they exist at all, compounded by the fact that we are asked to pay for it one way or another.

Continue reading “What the Birth Control Debate is really about”