by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
On this day of sadness and mourning I’m thinking about a book that Anna Freud wrote during World War Two.
CHILDREN AND WAR was written for the women of London who were holding down the country during the deadly German bombings. These heroic women did just about everything to keep London alive in front-line conditions.
Anna Freud addressed concerns about “how do we deal with the children when we are under continual attack” with special concern for the bombing raids.
One major theme of the book is to always make the children feel safe, keep routines going, even on the worst days where there is bombing, keep the schools going, even if underground, and find courage to find steadfastness within oneself so that fear and anxiety are not transmitted to the children.
One memorable thought will always remain with me: keep the birthday parties scheduled! Even on the worst days, there will be things to look forward to–affirming life and celebrating its presence, even when living in the subways or bomb shelters.
Anna Freud’s past treasure of understanding people and events provides at least a modicum of shared experience and ways to cope when things appear to be the darkest. Keeping our children mentally healthy even during the worst of times may be a task we need to be prepared for.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone on 9-11-08, especially for those who have suffered directly or lost someone they love.