Family Resources

How to Talk to Your Kids About Abortion

Note: This advice is based on our experiences with our own children and decades in the Pro-Life movement, but there is not a "one sized fits all" approach. Different parenting styles and parent/child personalities will approach this differently.
What age should I start the conversation?

From conception.

Hear me out, I don't mean I sit my 4 year old down and have full conversations about abortion procedures with him, but, in our house, the abortion conversation is a small part of a larger conversation about the Dignity of the Human Person. That conversation begins as soon as we see two lines on a pregnancy test: in how I treat him, speak to him, and speak about him.

As the kids grow, they are taught that they are precious children of God, that they are unique and unrepeatable, and that they are more important than any of the stuff in our lives.

As we and our friends have more children, the little ones get to experience pregnancy with their moms. They feel the baby kick inside, see the baby move on the ultrasound screen, and read so many big sibling books. (I have yet to come across a big sibling book claiming that the mom is pregnant with a clump of cells... just saying.) 

Fetal development is one of our best resources in teaching our children to be Pro-Life. All we need to do is teach them that there is a human baby in the belly, and they inherently know you cannot kill that baby. Done. 

Ok, maybe not done, but that is the first step, and the one that you don't need to worry "Is my child old enough to know this? Are they ready to know?" because all you are sharing is the beauty of life in the womb, something we naturally share with them anyway. That conversation does begin the moment their life begins.

When is my child ready to know what abortion is?

To me, this is not an age question, but a maturity question. 

We told my oldest when she was newly 8, and I feel confident that she was ready to know. She understood what we meant, was able to process the idea, asked follow up questions, and reacted appropriately. 

Our second child is now 8 and a half, and we do not have plans to really have that conversation anytime soon. He is much less mature and struggles when it comes to understanding complex ideas and expressing empathy. 

Why does he need to understand complex ideas? Abortion is murder. Murder is wrong. A 2yo gets that right?

Well, yes, but...

A young child, told that a mommy or daddy did something to another child will always try to relate it to themselves. "Would my mommy do that to me?" No! "Then why did that mommy?" That dreaded endless string of "why?" is the reason a child needs to understand complex ideas and express empathy. You're going to have to answer why, and that answer is more important that the definition of abortion. 

Can I just wait until I give them the sex talk to teach them this?

Choosing when you share these type of topics with your children is difficult. It requires a delicate balance between maintaining the child's innocence, but making sure they hear these messages from you before the culture tries to steer them wrong is so important. 

Be aware that Planned Parenthood and other proponents of the culture of death are targeting children younger and younger with these anti-life messages. It is easier to teach a child the truth from the beginning than to have to convince them that something they learned at school, on the internet, or from friends is wrong. 

We teach about abortion long before our children know the details of sex. They don't need to know the details of how babies are conceived to know that killing them is wrong. In our experience, the questions focus on why someone would hurt their baby instead of how babies are made, allowing us to present that separately, after they have matured a bit more. 

What do I say?

Sadly, I cannot just give you a script, but only guidelines. 

What to say:

  • Abortion is when someone intentionally kills a baby inside of its mom's womb. 
  • Moms choose to do this because they are scared, they don't know the truth, they think there are no other choices, etc.
  • Those moms need love and prayers, both before they make than decision and, if they do choose abortion, after. 

Conversation Tips:

  • Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you with the right words. You might not know them, but He does. 
  • Make sure you are having a conversation, not a lecture. Share a little, listen a lot.
So now I'm done, right?

Nope! You should not treat this as a one and done conversation. This is a new topic of conversation which you should revisit with your child occasionally as appropriate.

You also started with the very basics, which is all kids need to know, but if your kids are anything like mine, they keep getting older! And older kids need more information. They need more in depth discussions, more ammunition to fight back against the lies our society will tell them, more answers to ever-growing questions. 

Older kids will start hearing these topics from peers or media, so keep your ears open and be ready to talk about the latest news story. Share these news stories with your kids so you can have that conversation before they hear any other ideas about it from peers. 

My main point here: keep talking about it! 

More advice from around the web

Plenty of other Catholic parents, priests, and other sources have addressed this issue if you want to read more. Here are a few of the articles I found most helpful. 

Catholic All Year - Touchy Subjects and Kids - Kendra lays out how she deals with talking to her kids about any tough subject. (I highly recommend this one, her ideas apply to talking about abortion, same sex attraction, transgender, and all the tough topics) 

National Catholic Register - How to Talk to Children About Abortion

Catholic Answers - How to Explain Abortion to Little Kids

Catholic Sprouts - How to Teach Your Children About Abortion

National Catholic Register - Talk to Your Kids About Abortion or My Kids Might

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