As a parent, one of the most difficult conversations to have with my children concerns the presence of evil in the world. Explaining the presence of evil in the world in a Christ-centered manner to a 7-year-old is a challenge in and of itself. What can one say to a child who is now frightened and exposed to evil for probably the first time?
When I was young, I feared things that hid in the shadows and could not be explained. If it couldn't be explained, it was a monster and needed to be defeated. The Bible is filled with instances where evil was overcome by God and the people who faithfully served Him. The same can be said for the history of mankind. While evil may enjoy a temporary victory, the relationship that Mankind has with God through Jesus Christ ensures that the victory will be short-lived. Teaching a child about evil is an opportunity to share the love of Jesus and His success of overcoming the evil that exists.
In the history of the world, events such as the Holocaust, 9/11, or the murder of a member of the local community remind us of the presence of evil. Explaining those events to a child involves honesty and simplicity. It also involves thoughtful and solid answers that the child can understand. It can begin with a simple statement that evil exists since the fall of Mankind and has corrupted the hearts of men. Explain that God gave us a wonderful gift, the gift of "free will", to use as we see fit. With this gift comes great responsibility and when we abuse that power, evil occurs. Evil can manifest itself externally with all manner of violence and criminal behavior. Remind children that God is not the source of evil in the world but of the good in the world. God is more powerful than any evil that exists and will provide a means to vanquish the stronghold that evil temporarily has. The inclusion of the creation, fall, redemption and new covenant in conversational framework can have a significant impact on helping the child understand that evil is temporary and the good of God will triumph.
GK Chesterton wrote "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." Instead of sheltering our children from monsters and evil, perhaps the best remedy is to remind our children that evil has already been defeated by Jesus Christ.
Duffy, D. (2014). How to explain evil to children. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-duffy/how-to-explain-evil-to-yo_b_3910753.html
Neal, C. (2000). Protecting our kids from spiritual forces of evil. Retrieved from CBN: http://www1.cbn.com/onlinediscipleship/protecting-our-kids-from-spiritual-forces-of-evil
Showalter, B. (2016). How Should Christian Parents Talk to Kids About Evil in the World, Like ISIS? Retrieved from The Christian Post: http://www.christianpost.com/news/how-should-christian-parents-talk-to-kids-about-evil-in-the-world-like-isis-169847/