Children and Future Generations

Workshop Number 13

Led by David Waters and Susan Balzer

Workshop participants included around 20 parents, grandparents, teachers, other educators, social workers, clergy, activists involved with children's issues, and three children, Ginger and Charlotte Gamble and Oliver Waters, ages 11, 13, and 15. Participants came from India and Dominica as well as from the United States.

David handed out a sheet with the following challenging queries:

Other people's children: are they less than ours, are ours more valuable than theirs?

What risk are we willing to take to confront (change, drop out of, divert…) our military system?

How much can my child(ren) participate in the system before it is too late to change course?

How much risk can my child(ren) take, or how much different can s/he (they) become?

We had many other questions and few definite answers, but plenty of experience to share. In whatever questions we were discussing, it seemed that we returned to three issues repeatedly:

  1. How much of the risk involved in conscientious objection to war taxation (and other forms of witness against war) can or ought parents have children share? How do people deal with the personal and moral issues involved in making choices that deprive their children of opportunities that many who make opposite choices can take for granted?
  2. How do people encourage their children to share in the values that they hold dear while still nurturing them in the confidence and capacity to make their own choices and discover their own values?
  3. How do people honor their responsibilities to other people's children as well?

While some participants spoke of their own resentment or of the resentment of their children in having little choice as children but to share in the consequences of a parent's conscientious choices, others spoke of how such sharing helped build their best memories and firmest relationships within their families.

Most participants spoke of how limited parental influence actually is after children reach school age and how pervasive and strong the culture's commendation of violence and war is.

Our children are well aware where our hearts are, Paul Sheldon emphasized.

Scribed by David Mycoff