Talking with your kids about the war in Israel

Written by Steph Thurling
Published on October 11, 2023

If you’re like me, you are feeling a plethora of emotions as you watch the news unfold about the war in Israel. I feel overwhelmed as I think about how complicated the history of the Middle East is. I feel angry as I think about the innocent civilians who have been killed or taken hostage. I feel afraid as I think about the future of our world and the implications that this crisis has. I feel like I should be more knowledgeable, but I don’t know where to start! And I feel like I need to be prepared to talk about all of this with my kids.

Here are a few tips to help you and your family navigate conversations about the crisis in Israel.

Get informed 

Take the time to learn about the situation yourself so that you feel more comfortable and prepared to talk about it with your kids.

Our partner ministry, Denison Forum, has compiled a list of resources to help you understand this unprecedented attack. To follow real time coverage about the Israel crisis, please go to Denison Forum – war in Israel. You may also subscribe to The Denison Forum Podcast for regular podcasts addressing this crisis. 

The more you know, the easier it will be to break it down for your kids no matter how old they are.

How to talk to young kids about Israel

Start by asking your kids if they have heard anything about the situation in Israel. I understand that it may seem impossible for our youngest kids to have any idea of what is going on and it may seem unnecessary to talk with them about it. But our world is really small and it’s amazing how much kids hear. Whether they overhear a conversation in your home, at school, or any other public setting, it is likely that they will pick up on something. It’s better that you approach the topic first, so they know it is safe to talk about and they are safe at home.

I remember being a very young girl and overhearing some women talk about Saddam Hussein. I had no idea who he was or where he lived, but their conversation absolutely terrified me. I imagined a scary man walking through my yard, ready to come get me. When I finally asked my mom about it she explained how far away he was and assured me I was safe.

So when you do talk to your kids (young kids especially), it might be helpful to show them where Israel is on a map. A map will help them gain some perspective and visualize where the crisis is happening.

Try saying something like this, “You might hear about a war that is happening right now. You may hear the words Israel, Palestine, Hamas, Gaza, or the Middle East. There has been a conflict in this area for a long time, but it is very serious right now. We are safe where we are. But if you hear anything about it, you can always come and talk to me about it. Do you have any questions right now or would you like to hear more?”

If they don’t have any questions or say they don’t want to talk about it, move on. If they do have questions or engage in conversation, keep it to the basics. It’s okay to establish boundaries and give high level explanations.

How to talk to older kids about Israel

You can be a little more specific with your older kids. Following your comfort level and their age and maturity, explain that Israel and Palestine have been in a territorial conflict over the Holy Land for a very long time. Over the weekend, a terrorist group called Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel, firing missiles into the country. In response, Israel declared war and struck back. Nearly 2,000 people are dead, and many Israelis have been held hostage.

It’s important to warn your older kids that they may hear stories or see images that are violent and scary, so remind them to be mindful of the media they consume and invite them to talk with you if they see anything or have any questions.

Questions are always a good thing, ask them questions like:

What do you know about the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?

Have you heard about what’s going on in Israel at school or from friends?

Do you know anyone who lives in Israel or has family in Israel?

Have you seen any pictures or videos of the attack on Israel?
How do you feel when you think about this crisis?

Do you have any questions about what is happening in Israel right now?

Remember, “I don’t know,” is a good answer and, “I don’t know, let’s find out together,” can be an even better answer. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids that you are unsure, it’s good for them to discover that you don’t know everything as a parent! It can also be good for your relationship if you explore this topic together and become educated as a family. 

Invite your kids to pray over the Middle East

It’s easy to feel helpless as you read the news and process the images you see and stories you hear. But we have the opportunity to join with believers all around the world to pray for Israel right now, and we can invite our kids to pray as well! Try these prayers with your kids, we have included verses to read together and pray over as well. For an additional prayer resource, read How can we pray for Israel? by Janet Denison.

Pray for peace in Israel and the Middle East

Lord, may your perfect peace flow over Israel and all the middle east—only you can change the hearts and minds of those involved. Instead of violence and hate, may people choose peace and reconciliation, creating an Israel that is not moved or shaken.

Verses to read and pray: Psalm 122:6, Isaiah 33:20

Pray for protection of the people who live there

Lord, you are our protector and our helper. We pray for everyone who lives in Israel and the Middle East—may no harm come to them, may they feel your presence, and may they rely on you for peace. Amen.

Verses to read and pray: Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalm 121:4-7

Pray for the Israeli government

Jesus, there is no authority except what you have established. We pray that the leaders of Israel and the surrounding countries would rely on you for wisdom and guidance. May they live their lives and make decisions that are honoring to you. Give them the strength to lead well, even when it’s hard. Amen.

Verses to read and pray: Isaiah 9:6, Romans 13:1, 1 Timothy 2:2

Pray for Israeli and Palestinian Christians

We pray for the Christians who are living in Israel, Palestine and the surrounding areas. For their safety, their comfort, their anxieties, and fears. Lord may they feel your presence always and may they continue to live a bold faith for you—making disciples of all nations for your kingdom.

Verses to read and pray: Philippians 4:4-7, Acts 4:31, Matthew 28:18-20

For more on the war in Israel, please visit this collection of resources from Denison Ministries.

Consider a few extra resources:


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Steph Thurling

Steph Thurling is Executive Director of Christian Parenting and host of The Christian Parenting Podcast.

Steph has her master’s in youth, family, and culture from Fuller Theological Seminary and has a background in youth and children’s ministry. She is co-author of Raising Prayerful Kids, a book that shares easy, life-giving, and fun ways to teach kids to pray. She loves helping families grow closer to each other and to God through meaningful experiences and conversations. Steph is a frequent speaker at churches and mom groups and is known for her relatable stories, practical ideas, and gentle encouragement.

Steph lives in Minnesota with her husband and three amazing and hilarious kids. When she is not hanging out with her family, you can probably find her on a walk with a friend, organizing things that won’t stay organized, or somewhere cozy reading a book.

Read more about Steph

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