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The Indirect Impact of War on Children

The indirect impact of war on children, how does war effect children, a woman recalls her childhood during World War II, sadness
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A large war affects the whole world in at least some small way – angst, loss of opportunities, and a shortage of supplies. When one’s own country is actively involved, add to that family separation, loss of basic necessities, shortage of essential workers, PTSD even when not personally involved.  Children of a deployed parent suffer loneliness, added family duties, and lack of parental involvement.  Anxiety over the safety of the parent can be detrimental in many ways and be manifested by anger, outbursts, or a loss of interest in activities.  The indirect impact of war on children may be seen in their play of war games. The unrest of the citizenry is palpable. Sadness covers the earth. Darkness hovers. 

A statement attributed to General William T. Sherman, a leader of the Union army in the Civil War concluded with “War is Hell.”

Even if children are not directly exposed to the violence of war, they may still experience emotional distress and anxiety due to the uncertainty and fear that permeates their environment. They may suffer from nightmares, difficulty in sleeping, and may become withdrawn. Fearing for the safety of parents or other loved ones can disrupt their ordinarily safe and happy world. 

Continuous exposure to the horrors of war through media or firsthand accounts can desensitize children to violence and suffering. They may become emotionally numb, finding it challenging to empathize with others, or to express their emotions properly.  

Parents’ Role: Limiting exposure to violent media and graphic images is essential in mitigating desensitization. Engage children in discussions about their feelings and emotions, allowing them to process their reactions to the world around them. Assure them of your concern for them and that you understand the situation. Make home a place of peace and laughter, minimizing discussing details of war. Control what they see on TV. Listen, love, pray and assure.  Home is the refuge.  It behooves us to provide that type of home as the children mature.

Alleviating Trauma and Promoting Resilience

While the effects of war on children can be devastating, parents can take proactive steps to alleviate trauma and foster resilience in their children.

Leading the children with the confidence from God that He will see us through allows them to learn to trust God and quiet their very real angst. We can not give what we do not have; therefore, we as parents will benefit greatly as we learn to trust God, and then lead our children to walk in His way and His truth.  

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”          II Corinthians” 4:8-9

Psychological Support

Seek professional help if children exhibit severe signs of distress, such as prolonged depression or anxiety. Child psychologists and counselors can provide specialized support to help children navigate through their emotions and experiences.

Encourage creative expression: art, storytelling, and play therapy can serve as valuable outlets for children to express their feelings and make sense of their experiences in a safe and non-threatening manner.

Learning to Be Resilient

Leading our children to become resilient prepares them to handle all that life throws at them with courage, confidence, strength, and faith. Often the experience of being challenged is the catalyst promoting resiliency. It is the courage to continue that counts.

 Trusting Faith in the One True God

Above all, teach your children about the love of God, how Jesus loves each one of them, and how we should love and care for one another. Make sure that your relationship with the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Lord God is founded in truth and grace through faith.  

Watch the video on this site – Great News – to hear the message of HOPE explained clearly.  

May love and peace, absence of war, proclamation of the truth, and above all the message that God loves each of us – may these truths prevail.  

My own experience being a child in America during World War II

On a personal note, I was raised in a loving family on a West Texas farm.  We were active in the community, the church, and the schools. No TV at that time. We only attended a movie 2-3 times a year.  Life was full of friends and family, school, and work. The war in Europe seemed far away to me, although my parents talked in low tones to other adults, and I knew there was great unrest.

 However, life as I knew it was about to change. December 7, 1941. I was 8 years old at the time and I still vividly recall that Sunday and Monday, and I can also recall the emotion of fear that struck in our hearts at that time.  It was a Sunday afternoon, December 7; we were spending a quiet family afternoon after church. Although we had a radio, it had not been turned on that day.  No telephone on our farm at that time.

Late in the evening, just prior to sundown, Mother was down at the barn helping Dad milk and feed the cows.  I recall that I was polishing the globes for the kerosene lamps which would soon be lit as darkness quietly enveloped the pastoral setting. Suddenly a car broke the silence, as it drove up to our house.  It was the McDonalds – the young couple who were our teachers at the two room Hastings Public Country (literally) School – who lived in the small teacherage on the school grounds. 

My dad was on the School Board and a leader in the community.  My parents were pleased to see them, and invited them into the house. It was then that the ominous reason for their visit unfolded.  They told us of the Pearl Harbor attack.  I was struck with fear as I looked at the stricken faces of these four adults who were my source of strength. 

 We children were not excluded from the severity of the news – Japan had declared war on the United States and the British Empire, and had heralded it with the horror of Pearl Harbor.  Personal fears were addressed – Mr. Mc would be called into service, etc. and then the issue of what to tell the children in school the following day was discussed.  

Very little was said after they left: my parents were undoubtedly trying to comprehend this momentous intrusion into the civility of their world, and the fact that we were no longer able to be only observers of what was going on in Europe and now the Pacific Theater – participation was demanded of us.

On Monday morning at school, I recall the palpable feeling of fear, with everyone holding his breath.  FDR – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – was scheduled to speak at 11 o’clock.  We were given an early and long morning recess.  Mrs. Mc, who was probably in her late twenties, was struggling to keep back the tears.  Then, leaving plenty of time to quiet us all down, we were called indoors.  I remember standing in line to drink from the outdoor water fountain.  When we entered the school, they had removed the back-to-back blackboards that somehow made a sturdy wall separating Grades 1-4 from Grades 5-7. 

There was no need to tell us to be quiet.  The entire school sat motionless as Mr. Mc adjusted the sound on the little radio.  And then the voice we recognized so well; the voice that later guided us through the next few years with the fireside chats; that steady, strong, identifiable voice of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, gave his famous Infamy Speech to the Joint Sessions of Congress, and within minutes war was declared.  

The United States was officially at war. Thus, began years of the most patriotic living one can imagine. We were united in the war effort – all the young men were called to duty – women took over men’s jobs – no family was spared – Blue Ribbon Banners were in many front windows, signifying a son or daughter in the service.  Heartbreaking replacements were the Gold Star banners when that loved one was killed in the line of duty. 

Government stamps were issued to control the use of goods needed for the war effort – and that was almost everything.  My feet were growing fast at that time and my grandmother gave her stamps to Mom for me so I would not be barefoot. The everyday and “Sunday” shoes – two pairs for everyone concept of the times – were soon replaced by one pair for growing children. Stamps for sugar, tires, coffee, etc. were needed as these items were rationed.  I remember waiting for Saturdays so I could buy a Savings Stamp which then translated into a War Bond – $18.75 bought a $25 bond, as I recall. 

The following year Mr. Mc was at war and Mrs. Mc came back to teach.  Her classmate at NTSU, Ms. Meacham, replaced him, and the two young women moved into the teacherage.  Our family treated them as family.  The following year, on a sunny day at about 11 am, we saw cars drive up into the school yard.  There stood three trustees – one was my dad – and a man in uniform.  Then a knock was heard on the door of Mrs. Mc’s room – I had been promoted to the Big Room across the hall.  These men, whom I did not know, had contacted the School Board to accompany them as they handed her the dread telegram stating that her husband was missing in action. 

The war became my war that day.  Mr. Mc was later declared dead. 

World War II Invaded the Lives of All Americans

World War II invaded the lives of all of us. We declared war and were heavily involved.  America was one nation.  Dependent on God. Prayer services.  Stalwart.  Determined.  United. No place for sissies – we were in war.  I cannot imagine how our European friends experiencing the bombings locally and the attempt to exterminate the Jews, etc. felt.  I only knew it from the viewpoint of a very curious and very concerned young girl whose uncles and cousins were fighting in unknown places in the European and Pacific theatres of war, and whose dad, a deferred farmer in his 30’s, took on the responsibility of many male relatives and neighbors during those days.  (The age restriction was lifted, and he would have been called in the next six months had the war not ended.) 

Learning from History

To paraphrase Winston Churchill – “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”  

My love for country, for freedom, for personal choices, for family, and above all for God was molded in those formative years – and I am glad I was not shielded from reality.  I knew the Men of the Greatest Generation!

The impact of those war years lingered and imbued in me a strong patriotism, stoicism, and a love for freedom.  The rumbles of war have involved our nation at other times since World War II, the war to which I alluded.  However, active war has not invaded our United States shores in this last century.  

May God lead us all to see the beauty of peace andthe power of love, and give us the strength to preserve what our nation stands for without the necessity of war.

God’s promises prevail: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”  Isaiah 41:10

Please watch the video on this site – Great News.   Trusting in the death of Jesus on the cross and believing in His resurrection gives us the confidence to boldly live for Him.  And assures us a place in His Kingdom – Heaven – for all eternity. 

Would you trust Jesus today?

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We invite you to watch the “Great News” video on this page and find out more about God’s love for you and how you can receive forgiveness and eternal life – today!

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