A parent in my meeting shared with me that they were not sure how to talk to their children about Russia’s war on Ukraine. I recalled a line in an article that had resonated for me as a parent and educator: We don’t have to protect children from difficult feelings, but we must not leave them alone with them. The Tote Bag newsletter for March/April has many resources and events to share with meetings and families, but these ideas for supporting one another and talking about ways to create peace are perhaps the most important.
Here are three good pieces to consider sharing with parents as we support them parenting in this time:
- How to Talk to Kids about the Ukraine Invasion
- What to Tell Kids About Ukraine: Recommendations from a Psychologist
- How do you talk to your young children about war?
After the parent at meeting and I spoke, we re-thought our Children’s Meeting program for the coming Sunday, and spent the time thinking about peace. What makes us feel peaceful inside? What did the Peace Testimony say in 1660, and continue to say to us today? How can we work to create peace? We started by creating messages on sunflower coloring sheets which we sent to the Quakers in Kyiv, Ukraine. More ideas for sharing messages of peace in the section below!
Making Peace — Pass it on
- Create Prayer Doves for Peace This ready-made activity is for all ages, and children can take the lead.
- Write: Mennonite churches in the Philadelphia area are encouraging children in their congregations to write letters to Russian President Putin using their own words to ask him to stop the invasion and war against Ukraine. Meetings might join them and share the messages that are created.
- Pray: a recent story on the PYM website suggested ways to teach children about prayer.
- Color sunflower coloring sheets and take a picture. Quakers in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Friends House Moscow both have pages on Facebook, and messages can be sent there. This sunflower sheet suggests how to pray for peace while coloring (.pdf)
Books and Resources
Thanks to Guinevere Janes from Media Meeting for sharing these free coloring sheets to commemorate women’s suffrage during Women’s History Month (and anytime!). The resource also recognizes that Black women were not included in the 19th Amendment, and asks us to think about continued exclusion and injustice today, and what we can do in our lives to respond.
This new, timely graphic novel, Discipline by Dash Shaw (who grew up in Richmond Friends Meeting in VA) would be interesting to read with a group of youth to explore together the themes of faith and conscience as well as history and war.
During the Civil War, many Quakers were caught between their fervent support of abolition, a desire to preserve the Union, and their long-standing commitment to pacifism. When Charles Cox, a young Quaker from Indiana, slips out early one morning to enlist in the Union Army, he scandalizes his family and his community.
Earth Day is April 22, 2022 and Blue Dot Kids Press is celebrating by planting trees — They will plant a tree, via a partnership with One Tree Planted, for each child who participates in a simple Earth Day coloring or photography activity. The initiative is designed to promote citizen action—children like knowing they’re making a difference in the world!
Events of Note
March 15 & 17 the Quaker RE Collaborative hosts two Conversation Circles on Protecting Our Children Registration is required. On March 15 at 12pm (ET) the conversation will feature British Friends, Juliet Prager and Mark Mitchell, of the Britain Yearly Meeting Safeguarding Program. The Thursday 8PM (ET) conversation will be a Sharing Circle of questions, experience, strategies and concerns about child safety policies and practices in Friends’ face to face and online gatherings.
Note: the March issue of Friends Journal is devoted to “Safety in Meetings.”
Preparing for Easter
Six stories from the Godly Play and Faith & Play collections, or told in that style, are posted in a news story on the PYM website: “Stories of Faith on the Road to Easter.” The six stories are offered in a way that is open to wonder and continuing revelation, supporting exploration of Quaker faith and its Christian roots: The Parable of the Good Shepherd , The Woman at the Well, The Parable of Great Pearl, Living the Ways of the Spirit (Quaker testimonies), Faces of Easter, and An Easter Story for Friends. While the style of this storytelling is often associated with programs for children, these are for all of us at any age. Show the videos over Zoom or share the link for viewing at home.
All photos in this article are from Pixabay.com or were taken by the author.