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Current Affairs with a Purpose - Issue 203
June 04, 2011
Hi there! ....

This week my newsletter is sent out a bit later than usual. It is cricket and netball season for us which means I have to be out of the house on a Saturday morning. So I do hope you still find time to read this issue.

This week was a very social week for myself. I had coffee with a friend, took the kids out for lunch and then had a coffee date with my husband. Peter and I are learning to grab the moments as they come rather than just wait till we can do a big amount of time together - like go out for dinner. Last week, I may have already mentioned it, but we set up a campfire outside and had dinner together out there (without the kids - they were inside with a DVD). Once again it was grabbing a window of opportunity and making the best of it. I encourage you to do the same, don't wait till it is all perfect - take a moment this weekend and spend time with your spouse.

Live life with your kids!

If you are an Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

Current Affairs with a Purpose

This week a public and ethical issue has hit the news – an issue that directly affects our family, and many of the people in our community. What a better time to be reminded of the importance and value of using current events to teach our children. Current events, or current affairs, are political, social, ethical, economic issues that affect our local community, our country or our world. We can bury our head in the sand – wave it off as all political or we can take hold of this opportunity and teach our children about the world around them (both local and global).

We live in a media saturated world and not all of it is good. T.V news, Internet, Newspapers all scream the headlines to us. Many people don’t inform their children out of a concern that the world and its issues will frighten our children. The truth is though that it is a world that our children will live in. We need to take the opportunity now and give them the understandings that will prepare them to be not only good citizens but God worshipping citizens. Talking about these issues will help shape our children’s belief system about the world (of course, we will consider age appropriateness.)

I must add at this point, that a lot of the news broadcasts, especially on the TV are sensationalised gossip or crime details that we just don’t need to know. Also many ‘current affairs’ programmes are more about lifestyle issues - this is not what I am talking about when I say ‘current events/affairs’. I am talking about the events that happen in our world that have impact on families, communities and nations. The other disclaimer I must make, is that it is easy to become addicted to news. It is easy to make the nightly viewing of the News a primary focus – unfortunately this often cuts across dinner time and/or family time. Over the last few years Peter has shifted his TV News to reading the news online. This means he can catch up with world events in a time frame that suits him, it is also quicker as he only reads what he is truly interested in or he finds applicable. This then frees him to be available to his family.

Discussing the news, or current events gives us the opportunity to talk about and therefore increase our children’s learning in many different areas:

  • General knowledge topics such as history, science, geography, and even the arts
  • Knowledge of law and economics
  • Awareness of other people and our human nature
  • Understanding of ethical issues, conflicts and outcomes
  • Appreciation of our place in the wider world
  • Listening skills
  • Communication skills (our children need to be able to summarise the issue, ask questions and express opinions)
  • Critical thinking

All news is told with a bias. We need to teach our children first to be aware of that fact alone, but secondly to then discern the journalist’s bias, and to think the issue through without that bias. When we discuss these things with our children, we too are presenting a bias case. It is very hard not to. Everyone looks at the world through the eyes of their belief system (journalists and parents alike!) This is why it is important to discuss these things with our children. Instead of seeing this as discussing the news, or current events – we could rightly call this ‘developing our children’s world view’. This of course will only happen if we talk about and discuss the issues rather than just listen to or read the news and be done. Our children need to hear these issues discussed in the light of our values and belief system.

More importantly they need to hear it in the light of God’s Word. God does have something to say about every issue. The exact circumstances may not be found in the Bible but the godly principles that should direct our responses and our beliefs certainly are there to be found and followed. This is probably the most important reason why we should discuss local, national and international news with our children. They need to see the world and all that happens and develop an understanding that is in keeping with the heart of God.

It may help you for me to list a few examples. As I browse the web pages of major national newspapers I don’t see a great many big issues there but instead a lot of gossip. But if we wade through that there are important things to talk about; important things that our children need to start thinking about. When we listen to the news and we hear maybe 15 news items we wonder where to start with our kids. But by looking carefully we could easily eliminate most of those nightly updates. If we look carefully we could see one major issue to talk to the kids about each week (that is doable!). Now for some examples :

  • Asylum seekers – what is God’s heart for these people seeking refuge across our borders? What does God say about national borders and government’s responsibilities? How do we treat the oppressed?
  • Animal cruelty – what does God say about our care of animals? Do animals have feelings like humans? How do we get our meat, do we know the process?
  • Gay Marriages – what does God say about homosexuality or what does he say about marriage?
  • Natural Disasters – Where is God when bad things happen? Why do earthquakes keep happening in Christchurch?
  • A soldier died in Afghanistan – Where is Afghanistan? (We may think this is a given but do our kids know?) What does God think about war? How can we comfort those we know who have lost loved ones? What does it mean to be patriotic? What does it mean to be a hero?

As you can see just from these few examples there is lots to talk about – both in the natural fields of knowledge as well as looking for a Biblical worldview.

The best way we have found to introduce issues to our children has been by bringing it to the table – the dinner table that is. We either just bring our understanding and start a conversation or we bring a printed article to share with the children. Somewhere in the discussion we have to ask “What does God think about this?”

Our conversations very rarely stay on track and that is a good thing as long as the rabbit trails are of value. There are times where a conversation has turned flippant – and this may need to be reigned in as our purpose is to understand what is happening in our world and not to make light of that. There are of course, other times that a good laugh is what everyone really needs.

If this is a new thought to you, it may overwhelm you – where do you start to see God’s thoughts on current affairs/events? Start off with prayer. I believe God provides all my needs. When I am overwhelmed with a topic I feel important for my children to understand, God has made a way for us. I may read something online that helps or I may find myself talking to someone who understands better than me. Though Peter is very “into” current affairs, it is hard work for me.

Secondly learn to think biblically yourself. We are currently going through the DVD series “The Truth Project” by Focus on the Family. It is a great foundation and your children from at least 13years of age could benefit from this resource.

Other resources that may help you

Just because we feel inadequate in an area it is not a good enough reason to abdicate from our responsibility to teach and train our children. We must start to learn to think biblically ourselves, and in so doing set an excellent example to our children.

Other links you may find helpful as you think about this week's topic:

Live life with your Kids Blog posts for this week:

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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