Helping My Children Understand Evil

Devotionals from Leslie Ludy and the Set Apart Girl Team

Helping My Children Understand Evil

by Leslie Ludy | November 12, 2012

One of the more challenging aspects of parenting is finding tactful, simple, and edifying ways to discuss difficult subjects with my children. When they observe evil, sin, and darkness around them, I must help them process what they are seeing in a healthy way that points them to truth. During the Halloween season, my kids are constantly shocked and dismayed by the grotesque displays they see in stores and in front yards. “Why does Walgreens celebrate Halloween?” they ask me quite loudly and incredulously, right in front of the store clerk. “Don’t they know it’s a big-meanie holiday?” On more than one occasion, I have found myself in an awkward position, needing to choose between honesty with my children and showing social sensitivity to the person in front of me.

When I am in such a situation, I’m often tempted to just brush off my children’s concerns and make light of their consternation, in order to save face and look like a normal mom in front of those around me. But then God gently reminds me, You are not called to be a normal mom. Rather, I am called to be an extraordinary mom – certainly not in my own strength, but by the supernatural, enabling grace of God! And even if it makes me feel and look awkward to this world, I want my children to grow up with a strong aversion to evil, sin, and compromise. I don’t want them to take sin lightly, so I shouldn’t either.

Tauler wrote, “A pure heart is one to which all that is not of God is strange and jarring.” Right now, evil is strange and jarring to my young and naïve children. And I would like to keep it that way. This requires me to explain darkness to them in a healthy, godly way that will not defile them, but will cause them to take evil seriously. So, I have found myself having many straightforward conversations with them about the fact that many people in this world don’t know Jesus and that’s why they celebrate darkness. It was beautiful to see their little hearts of concern desiring to spread the good news to all our Halloween-celebrating neighbors!

On a recent trip to Haiti with my son Hudson, we visited an orphanage where a man who calls himself a pastor was feigning concern for the fifty-one children under his care. But we knew that in reality he was using and abusing them. Hudson walked around the orphanage and saw the horrible conditions, the starving children, and the trash laying everywhere. But afterwards he asked me, “Where was the bad man who is hurting the children? I only saw a man who was acting nice, and saying that he was a pastor.”

It would have been easy just to tell him, “Oh, I’m not sure where the bad man was.” But Eric and I wanted Hudson to realize how subtle and crafty evil can be. So we told him, “That man who was acting so nice and saying he was a pastor is actually the bad man who is hurting the children. He was only pretending to be nice so he could get money from us.”

It was the first time Hudson realized that evil can sometimes appear good at first glance. He talked for days afterwards about “the bad man who was only pretending to be nice” and asked loads of questions about the situation. It was difficult for him to process the fact that he had seen such evil up close. But his heart was moved to concern, compassion, and prayer for those fifty-one children, far more than it would have been if we had just glossed everything over and failed to really help him understand what was going on in that place.

Of course, there are some hard facts that I protect my children from. They do not need to know details about abuse. They do not need to see things their young hearts and souls are not ready for. But I am learning that tackling difficult subjects head-on with my children, and applying God’s truth to every situation, is far better than sweeping things under the rug and keeping them in a fairy tale version of reality.

After all, we are called to raise up rescuers and world changers – and in order to change this world for Christ, they must develop real burdens for the things that break God’s heart. I pray that as my children grow up, all that is not of God will continue to be strange and jarring to them. And may they always have that childlike faith to see the victory that is possible with God.*