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How Can I Talk to My Kids About 9/11?

How Can I Talk to My Kids About 9/11?

Have you ever been asked, “Where were you when . . . ?”

As a child, I heard countless stories of my grandfather’s days in the U.S. Army, marching across Europe in World War II, and how the Lord protected him on D-Day.

My mother often shared her memories of hiding under a school desk during Cold War bomb drills, or of watching TV coverage of the moon landing in 1969. And every one of my parents’ generation can tell me where they were the day President Kennedy was assassinated.

I’m now old enough to have stories and memories of where I was when something significant or tragic happened in the world.

On September 11, 2001, I was leading a group counseling session with students at an alternative school when a coworker knocked on the door, pulled me aside, and told me planes had flown into the Twin Towers in New York. It’s a date I’ll never forget.

With the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaching, many of us will spend time recalling that day. We’ll remember where we were, what we felt and thought, what we saw and experienced. We’ll remember the lives lost and the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the sake of others. We’ll remember our national grief and our righteous anger in response to the horrors of that day.

As we do, though, there will be children around us who don’t remember. My children were not yet born on 9/11. To them, it’s a national tragedy, one they read about in the final pages of their history books in school. It’s like the stories I heard as a child of those world wars or of JFK’s assassination—one they don’t have an emotional connection to because they weren’t there.

How can we talk to our children about that day?

Keep It at Their Level

Talking about 9/11 with a 3 year old will look different than it does with an 8 or a 13 year old.

A young child who sees adults with sad faces and hears them talking about 9/11 may ask questions. Answer with short, simple responses. They don’t need details, just the basics: “On this day, we remember the people who lost their lives when a group of angry men attacked our country. We pray for their families who miss them so much. And we pray that God would bring the peace only he can give.”

An older child might want more information about what happened. Share according to their age and stage of development. School-age children learn about 9/11 in their history classes. This provides parents an opportunity to discuss their…

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