Walking Through Holy Week with Our Kids

For All of us Who Want to Walk with our Children Through our Grief, StoryMakers Has Created a Helpful Guide to Holy Week.

As a child, I was a precocious reader and would regularly pick up the newspaper. It was cute until I read a series of articles about a young girl, my same age, who had been kidnapped from her home. Thus ended my ability to fall asleep and made me well aware that even my home was not safe. I’ve written about my anxiety and OCD previously here, so you can imagine that access to news reports plus mental illness added up to disaster.

For this reason, I have been very careful about my children hearing or watching or reading the news. Until a year or so ago, my son thought Abraham Lincoln was still the president of the United States. It was just easier to protect them if they did not know what was going on. My son occasionally asks for a kids newspaper. I think a printed paper is a novelty to a child who have never seen one. But I told him that sometimes the news is scary and that I don’t want him to be scared by something he’s not yet ready to understand.

He came home a month ago and said, “Mom, you were right. The news is scary. I heard on the radio that there was an attack on the Capitol? What happened? That sounds really bad.” We talked for awhile about what happened and how Congress was safe now, and I remembered Fred Roger’s advice to always look for the helpers. But now he has something new to worry about.

As adults, we talk about how we live in a broken world. My inclination is to hide that from my kids. Some of my reasoning is good — they are not developmentally ready to know the details of bad news. Some of it is because I just don’t want them to experience fear or sadness or guilt or shame until they absolutely must.

This past year has made that plan almost impossible. I was forced to explain the coronavirus to my children because they asked why they could not just play with their friends like normal, why we have to wear masks, why I was crying. Any illusion that the world is a safe place has been destroyed. My childhood was full of worry about the statistically unlikely chance I would be taken from my home; my kids worry about an invisible, silent virus that has changed their lives completely.

Our children know the world is not as it should be. Their early cries of “It’s not fair” or “My brother gets more dessert than me” show this awareness. They know they are mean to their friends and their friends are mean to them. They notice our stressful sighs and thin tempers. They see our tears and our panicked faces. Our kids are aware that things are not right and that there is great brokenness in the world.

A friend recently said that we are living in a year of Lent. And our children, at least mine, are totally aware of it. They have given up so much and continue to see their world is broken. It’s why we cannot skip over Good Friday when we celebrate Holy Week. If we only celebrate that Jesus was resurrected from the dead but skip over why he had to die, we are left with no acknowledgement of the brokenness in our world. Only celebrating Easter may avoid a difficult conversation but also robs us and our children of the best news — that Christ died for the sins of the whole world. As the latest StoryMakers Easter download reminded me, “Good Friday was a dark day that brought the brightest hope.”

Some of the best parenting advice I’ve ever been given is that ignorance is not innocence. We can try to shield our children from brokenness, but after this year, they know what’s going on. They see that the world is full of sadness and pain. Holy Week is a gift, especially this year — a chance to walk with our kids through the pain of Good Friday and the hope of the resurrection knowing that Jesus died for all the broken parts of the world and rose again to put things right — to reconcile man and God.

For all of us who want to walk with our children through our grief but may be intimidated by the heavy nature of Holy Week, StoryMakers has created a guide to Holy Week for families. With the cutest bear, Bao, as our guide, we traverse all the valleys of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, until we reach the Easter celebration. In developmentally appropriate language, it allows our children and all of us to mourn the brokenness of ourselves and the whole world while reminding us that we have been given great hope in Christ’s resurrection.

For more details on the StoryMakers Holy Week Guide, CLICK HERE.

The Holy Week packet includes: puppets, maps, a guide, fun facts, and reflections. It is the perfect road map through Holy Week.

And for more free Holy Week videos, CLICK HERE.