Explaining Abortion to My Kids​

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Our seventh child, Emilia James.

Yesterday, the topic of abortion came up in conversation with our two oldest children, ages ten and nine. I’ve mildly dreaded discussing this topic because our children remember two of our late miscarriages and how traumatic it was to have our babies die. I didn’t know how it would go for them to find out others have made that choice electively. Reality is- I didn’t give them enough credit.

The policy in our house is that no question is off limits. And while we may say, “I’m not ready to answer that.” we have promised our kids we will not lie to them. Often times, we will respond to their questions with, “What do you think about that?” to gauge where they are in their understanding or better catch the context of their question. As we dove into the subject and their questions, we could see heartbreak on the faces of both our kids.

I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with our seventh child. In 2015, we lost two children to miscarriage and I was far enough along, I had to go in to have their dead bodies surgically removed from my womb. These were traumatic experiences and we all grieved together.  This topic is not theoretical to my children. They connected immediately that abortion is the same sort of procedure in which a live baby is taken from the mama’s womb. We explained that this is a very sensitive subject and that there are political movements called Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. We explained, as unbiased as possible, the stances of both parties and their beliefs. One of the kids asked, “So what are we?” and Brett explained that each of them needs to take time to search their hearts with Jesus to make those kinds of big decisions but to remember that the issues are rarely as simple and black and white as people want to imagine.

As we navigated more, I asked the kids if they could imagine some situations in which a mama might feel abortion is her only option. They could both identify a few legitimate ones: divorce, no money, she isn’t safe, she’s young and not married, etc. I was so impressed with their ability to put themselves in a woman’s shoes in the midst of their clear distress of the killing of babies. In the end, we explained to the kids that it is important we do not judge and we are filled with compassion for women who have made this choice. I explained that I’m sure many women live with a lot of regrets and possibly shame, probably even women we know and love who have never felt safe to talk about their abortions.

I then asked them, “How do you think Jesus would treat a woman who has had abortions?”

Johnny responded quickly and said, “Oh mom! He forgives them and loves them, same as everyone else!” I agreed. Then Elle thoughtfully spoke up and said, “He forgives and loves them, but mom, I think He would also just sit with them and cry with them as long as they need too.” (Insert mom and dad losing it at this point.)

So there you have it. My preteens were not only able to have a great conversation about a difficult topic rooted in love and compassion but also understanding and a concrete foundation that Jesus loves us all- no matter what. Not only does He love us really well, but that He meets us in our grief, shame, loss, and all things. How different would the world be if we all kept those truths at the forefront of how we speak to and treat one another? On this Easter weekend, I hope we remember our Savior died on the cross and rose from the dead for every one of us, no matter our history.

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