Today marks the anniversary of Roe versus Wade–41 years since the legalization of abortion in America.
It’s an ugly word, full of secrets, despair, and misinformation. It’s a term that most of us really don’t like to talk about.
But it’s out there, and our children hear it too.
With all of the conflicting views about abortion that are discussed in the media, our children are likely to experience some confusion, raise questions, or, worse yet, grow accustomed to the topic and regard it as just another part of normal life.
As parents, it is of utmost importance that we serve our children well by forming their consciences according to the laws of God. This means we don’t ignore tough topics they are starting to learn about, even if they have only heard the issue addressed in the petitions at Sunday Mass. Parents have to decide for themselves when their child has truly reached an age of reason–an age when he or she is ready to take on some of the more difficult topics of life. But we must be aware of our job to guard their souls against evil by educating their minds in what lurks about, hoping to ensnare them with the pretty disguises of the devil.
So when the time feels right to you, or your child starts to ask questions, here are three points that I try to take into consideration when discussing difficult topics like abortion with my children.
1. Be honest.
In clear language that is age appropriate, be honest with your children about what abortion is. If they are asking the questions, they are ready to handle the answers. There is no need to be graphic, of course, but they deserve to know the truth, that it is a grave sin, and that it greatly offends God. We are never called to make light of something so serious.
2. Emphasize compassion.
While we want our children to understand that abortion is sinful, we also want to encourage them to think the best of those who have engaged in it. These are early lessons in loving the sinner while hating the sin. Explain to your children that some people are misinformed, feel they have no other choice, or simply don’t have a very strong presence of God in their lives. Find your local pregnancy crisis center and take your children with you to drop off a donation. Drive the point home that we don’t condemn those who see no other way–we show them the way with love.
3. Explain God’s love and mercy in light of your own unconditional love for your children.
God is all forgiving and ever merciful. He waits with open arms, full of hope that the lost sheep of His flock will find their way back to their
Shepherd. Tell your children that God loves them, and you love them, no matter what they do. Emphasize that even though you don’t like it when they do something bad, you always love them for who they are. Encourage them to come to you with any problem and convey that you will always be there for them, not to condemn, but to forgive, embrace, and heal.
Let us pray today that God will enlighten those who feel they have no choice, who feel they have been backed into a corner from which they cannot escape. Let us pray that God will show us and our children how to lead others into the light of God’s merciful love.