Peacemaker Friday: Inviting Our Children Into the World’s Pain

I don’t always know how to talk to my kids about the world, about refugees and war, about injustice and devastation. How do I help my young children (ages 7, 4, and 3) see the world in its fullness, but also in a way they can understand, can digest?

How do you help them see pain past their own, without overwhelming them with it?

Recently Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) published a children’s book, Sea Prayer. It’s the story of Alan Kurdi, the little boy, a Syrian refugee, who drowned while attempting to flee to Europe.

It’s a beautiful book, poetic and evocative, imagining a new world for Alan, while recognizing the hardship, the tension that has torn his world apart. It is the voice of his father, who speaks hope over Alan, hope for his life and his dreams, hope that he will be loved and accepted by the world.

It feels small, ordinary, reading a story to my kids. We do it every day after all, a tangle of elbows and knees, grabbing hands and chattering voices. But at the start of a book they are quiet, rapt. They are listening.

Here they hear a different world, see a different world. One that isn’t perfect. One that isn’t safe. One that asks more of us, asks us to see a different way. They might not fully understand it. But it’s there, opening their eyes to new pain.

Within these watercolor pages I am alongside Alan’s father, my children are running next to Alan. We are remembering peaceful and happy memories, time with family, trips we took. I am showing them a pain different than they know, while also claiming their place in a world breaking apart.

It’s a problem I can’t fix for them, but together, alongside them, we can learn more about loving others, loving anyway, and seeing a more beautiful world.