How to Talk to Your Child About COVID-19
by Zach Cochran
What we are going through as a country and community is unprecedented. This season will leave an imprint on our culture, our lives, and especially on our children. Our children will tell their children about the time their community shut down because of this virus. That is daunting.
The question is: How will they tell that story? Through what lens will they tell the story of the coronavirus to the generation behind them?
Their interpretation is formed right now by the conversations they are hearing and the social media they are consuming. This is a providential opportunity for you as parents to help form that interpretative lens. I would strongly encourage you to have conversations with your child about these days. Ask them how they are processing it: where they are emotionally, where they are spiritually, and where their fears lie.
This is an opportunity for you to explain a few core truths of the Bible to your child:
1. God Is Sovereign
COVID-19 did not surprise God. He actually mysteriously ordained this very season long ago. He is not absent during the panic around the world. Everything that is happening is completely in his hands. We don’t know why God is allowing this virus to run through the world, but that does not mean we can’t trust him. He is not just sovereign, he is good. He is worthy of our trust, even if we don’t know “the why” behind our circumstances.
Let God’s sovereignty calm your heart. Even though the world may seem to be chaos, God is not running around putting out fires. Nothing is happening that God does not know about or care about. That should give you hope, and it should give your child hope. God’s sovereignty is soothing to a restless heart.
2. This World Is Broken
Romans 8:19-22 says,
“19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”
Natural disasters and pandemics are examples of the earth “groaning.” And Paul teaches us that this earth is broken. Why is it broken? Because sin introduced a curse not just on mankind, but on this earth. In Genesis, Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God and God, in return, cursed them and the ground they were responsible for.
That means that COVID-19 exists because sin exists. This world had been broken by the curse of sin and doesn’t work as God created it to work. People get sick and people die because sin has cursed our world.
This provides two teaching opportunities for you in conversations with your child and teenager:
- We should hate sin because sin has ruined our world
If we don’t connect the dots between sin and the brokenness of our world then we won’t see the point of the curse. The curse makes life on this earth harder. Give your child an opportunity to be introspective of their sin and respond in repentance in areas the Holy Spirit has shown to them. Let their hatred for COVID-19 spur hatred for that which is seeking to destroy them.
- Trust Jesus as the only hope out of this brokenness
Jesus took on this curse for us. He knows everything about the curse of this world. He touched the blind and healed the sick. He entered our world to take on this physical curse. He ultimately bore the final blow of the curse through death. He died a physical death, which shows us the physical nature of sin’s consequences.
Outside of faith in Christ, we have no hope to escape the brokenness of this world. If we don’t put our faith in Christ, COVID-19 is just a foretaste of our eternity. If we put our faith in Jesus then we have no need to worry about COVID-19, cancer, tornadoes, or any other effects of the curse. We know that one day, it will be no more. One day, Jesus will reign with those who put their faith in him on an earth that has none of the brokenness we currently face. This is an opportunity for you to plead with your child to put their faith in Jesus, given the glaring brokenness of the world.
3. People Matter
A lot of the precautions that organizations and governments are making may seem very strange to your child. They may wonder why we are doing this for a virus. This is an opportunity for you to talk to your child or teenager about what it means to “love your neighbor” (Matt. 22:39). God cares about how we care for the well-being of our people and community, especially the vulnerable.
This is an opportunity to help your child understand that their relationship with God is not just vertical but also horizontal—with other people. To be a Christian is to care about the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our community. This will give them a lens for understand why we should care about the spread of this virus. Maybe your family can create a call list of people to check in on, to make sure they are doing okay.
A Discipleship Opportunity
This is a strange season for your family, but God often uses strange providence to form his people, especially his children. May God grant you the ability to teach your child truth that they weren’t able to understand before.
The truth is, if the Lord tarries, your children will see more global issues in their lifetime. So, this let this be a teaching moment, a time to prepare them. God can and will use COVID-19 to teach our children how to be ready for the unavoidable brokenness they will experience in the world. Our prayer is that he would use us as a means to teach them.