Is protecting my children my first responsibility?

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From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Q: My elderly father is in the process of dying. My children, 7 to 12, want to visit their grandfather. I believe that our children need to remember their grandfather when he was vibrant and full of life, not in the state he is presently in. My husband disagrees. Protecting my children is my first responsibility, isn't it? -- P.M.

A: A parent can often mistake protecting children for over-protecting children, especially when it comes to sickness and death, both very much a part of life.

There was once a grandfather who was dying. His 4-year-old granddaughter was ordered to go to another part of the house to play, and told not to go near her grandfather's room. The adult members of the family sat and cried in the living room, and the teenage grandsons wandered in and out of the house aimlessly, not understanding what was happening.

When the caregiver asked the children what troubled them, they answered, "They won't let us see Grandpa, and we're scared." The caregiver gathered strength to talk to the family, encouraging them to allow the children to go to their grandfather's bedside. Reluctantly, the mother and father gave permission. The little girl stood on her tiptoes and kissed her grandpa, and then, not satisfied that he knew she was there, she pulled herself up on the bed and snuggled next to him. The boys sat in chairs beside his bed, and a smile came to Grandpa's face before he died peacefully.


That little girl, now grown, said that she will never forget the experience, her love for her grandfather, or being there beside him the last few minutes of his life.

Children often see the dark side of death but they need to be taught that death, for the Christian, is a beginning of a new life with God that will last forever.


(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)




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