Helping children overcome the evil of the Newtown massacre

Monday, December 17th, 2012

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The Newtown massacre is one of those inconceivable evil deeds that underscores with grief and despair how precious life truly is. And while there will be much discussion as a society about how to respond to this brand of horror, on the home front the security we can offer children learning about a masked man with guns killing kids and teachers in their classrooms is simply the courage of our conviction.

Erin Ambrose is a MFT and instructor at William Jessup University.

Erin Ambrose is a MFT and instructor at William Jessup University in Rocklin, California. “Our children have no safety net when they are having a hard time, unless families provide a safe place to land,” Ambrose said. “The mental health of youth is a big concern today.”

So make your home a sanctuary.

Making your home a sanctuary is a matter of what you believe about personal security. Our faith tells us that security starts from within every heart and mind. It is the thoughts we choose. (Philippians 4:8). Fear-based thinking disturbs the peace and keeps us separated from God’s love. It is a hopeless and powerless state of heart and mind.

And fear-based thinking is the consequence of evil deeds if we allow it.

Romans 12:21 “ Do not be overcome with evil, rather overcome evil with good.”

So how do we translate this truth with our children so that they can find the peace of Jesus in their hearts and minds?

Sacramento law enforcement chaplain, Mindy Russell, interviewed on Channel 10, said something very important. “If we focus on it, and obsess and are fearful, our children will imagine it. And if they can imagine it, they are experiencing it.”

Most kids will follow your lead. If you are fearful, they will be fearful. Below are some things you can do as a parent to demonstrate confidence to your children.

  • Start by asking open ending questions, such as “What do you know about this incident?” and let them inform you. And then ask them if they have any questions about it.
  • Identify the good things that happened in response to the evil deed. (Many children escaped with their lives; the police arrived quickly; the teachers kept many children safe.)
  • In response to this evil deed, we are all united by the sanctity of life.
  • For anxiety about going back to school. Consider volunteering at your child’s school. Reach out to the staff at school and find out where they can use parent support. Taking an active role in supporting the school will reinforce a sense of security that it is okay to be at the school.

Dr. Susan Weinberger, The Mentor Doctor

My friend and colleague, Susan Weinberger is the President of Mentor Consulting Group (The Mentor Doctor), in Norwalk, Connecticut. She encourages parents of young children to tell their them they love them and hug them tighter, and shelter them from 24/7 media coverage. “Mr. Fred Rogers an icon for children in America for more than four decades, once said ‘Good trumps evil,’” Weinberger said. “Pointing out the good in this world and the many who want to help when such tragedies occur may be consoling and calming. I hope so. I pray so.”

Bonding around house rules that promote security

Naturally children are more secure when there is predictability and consistency.  So the best way to express God’s love at home is through house rules and routines that express respect for each individual and serve the greater good.

House rules experienced as being a part of something functional, relevant, meaningful, and more secure is actually liberating when children can count on the rules being consistently honored.  In this way, they are not perceived as oppressive. It is simply the way we roll.

This may be a good time to review your house rules (cyber technology, curfew, chores) to ensure that they instill genuine boundaries for security for everyone. Depending upon the ages of your children, engage them in the review. Ask for their input and get a conversation going that ties into the higher purpose of setting authentic boundaries for personal security. Document them if they are not already. Some examples of values expressed through your house rules might include safety, good health, no foul language, mutual respect, and courtesy.

The ultimate objective of house rules is to ensure that every member of your family should be able to come home and feel safe in sharing what is on their heart and mind – especially anxiety-laden thoughts and experiences.

My two cents on faith applied

The spiritual warfare our children confront every day, in every neighborhood, in every campus, in every video game and “friend” community creates an opportunity to bond in a deep relationship rooted in the truth about who we are and to whom we belong.

My faith tells me that spiritual warfare requires us as individuals to not give power to fear and insecurity and put this evil deed and our children’s future in God’s hands.

The victory has already been won.

By Jesus’ example I know that my God does have command over good and evil; and He honors free will of individuals. And since individuals can be deceived by the lies of this world, there are transgressions that do not feel survivable.

The parents of slain children know this better than anyone.

And yet, God gave us Jesus as a perfector of our faith, to endure the worst that humanity can muster, so that we can know that the victory has already been won.

For more about genuine authority as expression of God’s love, go to: The Authority In Me (now available on Kindle).




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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.