Wednesday, March 23, 2005

What do you tell children about Terri Schiavo?

I'm not going to discuss the facts of the Terri Schiavo case, because they are murky to those whose only knowledge comes from the media.

The relentless coverage of this tragic situation reaches young children as well as adults. Today in our staff meeting, the Head of School related that the fourth and fifth grade classes at our school came to her office as a group with their teachers because they wanted to ask questions about what they were hearing on the news. She shared her struggle to respond to them appropriately without becoming embroiled in a controversy with their parents, whose views on the subject could be quite diverse.

Children this young do hear and absorb news reports: from TV at home or from the radio as they are driven to school. This was brought home to me years ago when Older Daughter was about 5 and asked me "exactly" how do you get AIDS? She had just heard a news report on the subject on the car radio. That really brought me up short.

There is an old Bible School song: "Be careful little ears what you hear". Today we cannot shelter our children from everything that they hear. Yet they often hear and try to understand things that are still beyond their developmental capabilities, because those things are thrust upon them, even when their parents try to shelter them from too much media exposure.

What do you tell young children about the Terri Schiavo case if they ask ? These 4th and 5th graders are just beginning to grasp the concept of the finality of death, but certainly cannot understand the complex legal, medical and moral controversies that abound in this situation.
Most adults are at a loss to do so as well.

One of our confessions states "in life and in death we belong to God." Perhaps that is the best assurance that can be given. Terri Schiavo belongs to God, and so do we.

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