resources for parents

project description
video & dialogue
translation team
resources for parents
research blog

Dear Parents,

Thank you for your interest in this project! Certainly it would not be possible without you or the courageous participation of your sons. Because of the intensity that accompanies discussions and desriptions of weapons, casualties and war, I have undertaken considerable research about talking to children about war and violent conflict. As you can imagine, the information available on the internet emerges from a variety of ideologies, much of it was written in response to the events of September 11th. From among many articles I have consistently gleaned the following:

  1. I will take my cues from your child. It is very important that I work with you to understand how much your child wants or needs to know about the boys in this story. You know your child better than anybody and he should be the one ultimately to determine when and how much he learns about anti-personnel mine casualties and their effect in the lives of other children.
  2. Your child will take his cues from you. In his efforts to understand his own thoughts and feelings about war, as in so many other things, your child will look to you to see how you make sense of it. So, in the interests of your child’s well-being, this projects asks that you consider and clarify your own beliefs and to think carefully about how you want to share them with your child.
  3. Reassure your child that he is safe. Depending upon the age of your child, it may be difficult for him to understand that the wars and weapons that this project is about don’t put him, his family or close community in any danger.
  4. In fact, by raising people’s awareness about anti-personnel mines and the effects of war on children in other countries through this project, your child and your family are doing something wonderful that works to make the world a safer and more peaceful place for everybody. Several articles recommend taking action as way to help children deal with their growing awareness.
Trite as it may seem to distill the emotional and ethical juggernaut that arises from the consideration of war, weapons, and the lives of children to these four points, I do think that they frame the foundation that I would like to provide with you for your child’s participation in this project.

This website is here for you to familiarize yourself and your child with this project. I have provided at the bottom of this page a list of resources that have shaped my own research. Feel free to explore them yourself and I certainly look forward to hearing your own thoughts and considerations. In fact, these conversations are an essential aspect for the production of this work. This is why I do the work that I do. As an anti-war activist, I am very interested in how we teach and talk to children about war. So I am looking to learn from you as much as from your children.

Please read and consider the release agreement found here and then discuss it with your child. Again, here I take my cues from you and your child. The agreement includes and clarifies all the possibilities for participation, please select only the ones you and your child feel comfortable with. I am comfortable with what you are comfortable with. For an example of how other children have participated in my work, you can find documentation of my last project blanket-fort here. I can also provide references to parents of other children I have worked with.

Your participation in this project is incredibly kind and generous. These are not easy stories to tell, but I strongly believe that sharing them is the best way to understand the truth of what war actually is. Articulating this truth is one of the most effectice tools we have for working toward the real goal of anti-war activism, a world without war. Whether or when this goal is ever realized, is not the really the point. The point is the "working toward" and the "working with". Together is how we realize the values that shape our world and our relationships for ourselves and for our children, here and abroad. Thank you for exploring this project together with me in the service of this vision.

Elizabeth Travelslight

The following resources are all from Purple Wagon: A site for people interested in parents and children and their explorations and discussions of war, terrorism and peace-making. Throughout my research I found that it was the least ideological and child-focused resource for talking to children about war and violence.
When War is in the News
Talking to Children About the Death of the "Enemy"
Talking to Children when the Talking Gets Tough

Also useful was the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence
Parents' Guide for Talking to Children about War

And a picture book I have available to lend for younger readers:
• Scholes, Katherine. Peace Begins with You. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1989.