How to Talk with Kids about September 11

September 11 is a date with national and emotional significance for American adults, but to our kids who were born after 2001 it might just be the day after September 10. Here are some great insights from Bill Emeott on how to talk with kids about September 11. Bill is an expert on kids ministry who currently serves at LifeWay.

Anyone old enough to remember a national tragedy can recall exactly where they were during Hurricane Katrina, when President Kennedy was shot, or when Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Where were you on September 11, 2001?
I was at church in staff meeting and our pastor’s administrative assistant came in and told us what was going on.

Is it important to talk to kids about 9/11 since most of the kids in kids ministry weren’t even born in 2001?
Talking is always important… discover the level of concern and share/discuss accordingly.

So for a child, how do you convey the significance of an event when they haven’t lived through one of those types of MAJOR events?
Appropriately. I think it’s valuable for kids to understand the events of the past and to understand why others feel the way they do about these significant dates. However, while events of history are significant and important, be careful not to “invent” or “force” kids to express feeling they may not have.

The day has been titled “Patriot Day,” so how would you define or explain “patriot” to kids who wonder what it means?
Kids don’t always understand the words we use and we need to make sure they’ve heard what we’ve said. In this case, that may require defining and discussing terms like “patriot.” To many kids the “Patriots” are a football team from New England.

Is there a biblical example of “patriot” or scriptural guidance for displaying patriotism?
The Good Sunday School answer is Jesus. But its true! In Luke 19 we see that Jesus weep over Jerusalem (figuratively… all Israel) because of their sinfulness and what He knew would be their impending destruction.  Jesus loved his people, his city, and his nation.  He wanted nothing but the best for it and He grieved over how His people had rejected God’s gift (Him).

I think Jesus’ example can provide a guide for Christians today. If we apply Christ’s example to today, it might mean that we should celebrate the times our nation does something great and mourn over the times when our nation does something wrong. It means balancing our love for country with the knowledge that there are times our country will get it wrong.  True patriotism is the ability to see one’s nation in its successes and its shortcomings.

If kids are worried about a crisis or experience a time of tragedy, what tips do you have for talking to them about it?
I’ve written before about talking with kids about a crisis. The most important thing to remember is to use world events (whether good or bad) as teachable moments to demonstrate that the faith we teach is real.

Bill Emeott loves equipping church leaders with tools to disciple their kids.  Bill serves as a Kids Ministry Specialist with LifeWay Kids.

He can be contacted at



Jeremy Echols

JE leads the camp team, finds new camp locations, plans training, and lots of other projects. He loves spending family time with his wife Emily and their daughter Madison.

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