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Binding Up the Brokenhearted Children

Focus Paper #16, January 1992

By Dr. Nancy A. Carter

The Reverend Dr. Nancy Carter is a freelance writer who lives in New York City. She founded The AIDS Education Project of the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1986 and was its coordinator until December, 31, 1990. Dr. Carter has been a member of the Women and AIDS Project of the New York State Division for Women since its inception in 1985. She is the author of numerous published articles on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

This Focus Paper stresses the importance of adults being able to talk with children about HIV/AIDS, sickness, sexuality and death. It emphasizes the importance of enabling children to grieve. Carter reminds the reader to talk with a child at a level which is appropriate for the child's age and development. This Focus Paper has been prepared in response to requests from Network members for in formation on how to talk with children about people they know who have HIV/AIDS.

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As the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues, more and more children know someone who has HIV/AIDS. The person may be a relative, an adult friend, or a playmate in school, church, or the neighborhood. In the midst of this worldwide epidemic, most adults remain uncomfortable talking with children about illness and death. Often, parents, school teachers, and church leaders also have trouble sharing facts about AIDS and sexuality with children. Usually adults find it even harder to talk to children about people the children know who have HIV/AIDS. Dan Schaeffer and Christine Lyons have said:

"The news that a family member has been diagnosed as having AIDS is heartbreaking. Equally difficult to deal with are the stigma surrounding the ill ness and often, an anger stemming from the fact that the disease (excepting those who were infected via a blood transfusion) is related to a sexual or drug-oriented lifestyle. This lifestyle is frequently not easily accepted, or even discussed among adult family members. This is all the more difficult to discuss with children."1

Children need to know facts about AIDS, sexuality, and death which are appropriate for their age level. Answer their questions openly. Do not give them more information than they are asking for or complex explanations. Tell them that it is safe to be friends with people with AIDS, to play with them, talk with them, hug them. Do not use euphemisms about death, such as "she passed away," but concrete words such as "dead" and "buried." If someone they know has HIV/AIDS, describe the person's health using truthful, simple words.

Everyone must learn to grieve. If children are not given honest healthy answers and role models, they might grow up with distorted attitudes toward death and repress their emotions. Factors which may keep children from grieving appropriately include: stoicism in their parent(s), lack of security or nurturing, no available supportive adult, confusion over the death, magical thinking, and inability to express their feelings. Repression can cause people to become depressed, suffer a variety of bodily ailments, turn to drugs or alcohol, and/or act out sex ually or violently. Adults deny their feelings because they were taught to do so when they were children. Break this unhealthy pattern of inability to express feelings if it is present.

Behavior speaks louder than words. Adults can model appropriate attitudes toward people with HIV/AIDS, sexuality, and death. As children express their feelings, respond with sensitivity and warmth and maintain eye contact. Be a model of healthy grieving. Describe your thoughts and feelings as a means of validating their process. Do not share with children to help yoursef feel better. To put children in the role of caretaker confuses them and may cause them to repress emotions. As the adult, your role is to comfort children. Support their grieving process both before and after the person's death. Responding to children's needs can make a critical difference in whether their first experience with AIDS and/or death is a helpful or harmful part of their emotional growth.

This focus paper will explore issues related to talking to children about people they know who have HIV/AIDS. Two helpful resources are at the end of this paper: one describes how children at different age levels grieve and ways adults can support them; the other is a bibliography which lists resources on AIDS, sexuality, and grieving available for adults and for children.

Start Teaching Children Now

The best time to teach children about serious illnesses like AIDS and about death is now. Make use of teachable moments. These may come at anytime. Sometimes children raise questions themselves:

"I didn't eat my pizza at school today" my friend's eight-year old daughter commented at the supper table.

"Why was that?" her mother asked.

"The cafeteria lady wasn't wearing her gloves when she gave me the pizza. So I didn't eat it. I was afraid of getting AIDS."

My friend told her daughter that, although what the lady did wasn't sanitary, she could not catch AIDS that way. She told her how people get AIDS and how they do not get AIDS. Then she said, "You know two people who have AIDS. Remember Hazel from church?"

Her daughter nodded yes.

"Hazel has AIDS. She got the AIDS virus when she was still a drug addict. Remember when she visited us? She hugged you but you can't AIDS from a hug."


"Our friend Michael (a gay man) has AIDS too."

"I didn't know. I like to play with Michael. AIDS is serious. Will he die?"

"Michael is very sick. He has had AIDS for a few years now. Probably he will die. I am going to invite him over for dinner soon so you can see him. He likes playing with you and your brother. Because he is sick, he won't look the same as the last time you saw him. He will be a lot thinner."

I thought my friend gave some good responses to her daughter. She used a teachable moment to correct her daughter's misconceptions about AIDS and to inform her that she knew two adults with AIDS.

Recognize good occasions to teach children about AIDS, sexuality, and/or death. When a pet or wild animal dies, talk to children about grieving. If children remark that a friend's relative has died, ask about their thoughts and feelings. Discuss "after school specials" and other quality television programming about sickness, sexuality, death, and grief with children. News reports about the deaths of famous people can be teachable moments. If the celebrity died from AIDS, include education about AIDS in your discussion of the event, being sensitive to whether or not the children are worried about getting AIDS or about adult loved ones getting AIDS. Reassure children about how people get AIDS and how they don't get AIDS. If a family member has HIV/AIDS, be honest about that. Take your cues from children about how much information they want.

Children are exposed to death and to AIDS all of the time through the media. Unfortunately, much of what they learn is not helpful. For instance, younger children's ideas that death is reversible are reinforced when cartoons show a mouse or bird being eaten by the cat and jumping out the cat's mouth unharmed.

Fairy tales, such as Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, depict the dead coming back to life. Horror movies with vampires and zombies, which are "undead" creatures, also confuse children about death, not to mention other ways these movies may harm children's perceptions of reality.

Some movies glorify killing and/or create terror about death. War, crime, and western movies can numb children's understanding of the sacredness of life and increase their tolerance in real life for violence. Horror movies teach children that death is unnatural and/or that killing is exciting. Even bad learning situations such as these can be used to try to correct children's understanding about death.

Create your own teachable moments. Give children one of the books on the resource list to read or read to them. Be sure to discuss the book with them. Many of the books on the list are part of a new type of literature called "bibliotherapy" which helps children to deal with real-life issues, including AIDS.

Another way to create a teachable moment is to initiate conversations about AIDS. For instance, ask children questions such as:

"Do they teach you about AIDS in school? What do they teach?"

"What do your friends say about AIDS?"

"What do you think about how people get AIDS?"

"What would you do if one of your friends has AIDS?"

Listen carefully to children to know which direction to go with the conversation. In all teachable moments, encourage children to express their thoughts and feelings. They need adult guidance and support.

When Children Know Someone Who Has AIDS

The first person children know with AIDS may be a classmate, a church member, or a relative. In all cases, the facts about AIDS and how sick the person is should be discussed with children. When children learn that someone they know has AIDS, it is best that they have already been taught about AIDS and death. Even if children have been taught, encourage them to ask as many questions and share as many feelings as possible. They will not remember everything they have been told.

Children need to be taught over and over again about AIDS, death and grieving. Once is not enough.

Earlier, I related how my friend had talked to her daughter about AIDS. Later Michael came and played with her daughter, age 8, and her brother, age 6. Both were informed that Michael had AIDS. The children saw how thin he was.

When Michael died, they were angry. "Why didn't you tell us Michael had AIDS, " they asked. The mother patiently explained that she had told them. Then she dealt with their present feelings of grief.

If the person who has AIDS is a student, many public schools will (and should) bring in a social worker or a trained counselor to talk to the children about AIDS and about their classmate.

Chris Barnoski was a 9-year old boy with hemophilia and AIDS who attended Kelly Lane School in Granby, Connecticut until he died in 1987. One day when Chris was at the doctor's, a social worker spoke to his class. "Later, a few wanted to talk with her alone. A boy who shared a snack with Christ years ago asked if he would get AIDS. A girl wondered what a funeral was like."2

If children know someone at school who has AIDS, talk to them about their thoughts and feelings. Don't assume that the discussion with a counselor or social worker was enough; be prepared to answer questions over time (including the same questions). Later, be sure to ask how the classmate is doing and how other children are reacting. If you are a children's church school leader, talk about AIDS , the infected child, and Christian ministry with your class. Discussion about a person who has AIDS will also include talk about death, grieving, and funerals.

When the classmate who has AIDS dies, someone will probably speak to the children at school.

"The day after Chris died, the social worker returned. She encouraged the students to talk about Chris. Someone remembered how good he was at Mad Math Facts in second grade. Someone remembered how the first grade teacher used to flick water on Chris's head, so Chris would grow faster. Mrs. Dorfsman said it's all right to remember bad things, too, and one boy mentioned the time in first grade, 'when Chris kicked a ball in my stomach'".3

Of Chris's 23 classmates, 20 went to the wake.

Again, discuss with children their thoughts and feelings about the death. Since a viewing and funerals are significant events, ask children if they want to attend. Never force them to go. If they decide to attend, describe concretely what they will see and feel and what will happen. Do this again before entering the viewing room or sanctuary. Explain the purpose of the funeral -- that it is a time to support and comfort each other and a time to honor the life of the person who has died.

Encourage children to tell or draw stories about their relationship with their friend. Explore with them any ritual of saying good bye they may want to do.

The closer someone who has HIV/AIDS is to children, the more impact learning about the person's illness or death will have:

AIDS has begun to produce a generation of orphans: thousands of children are not infected but are losing their mothers and fathers to illness, disability and death from the growing epidemic.

In a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, for example, youngsters whose parents are dead or dying meet in weekly support groups. An 8-year old boy came to one session clutching a photograph of his father in a coffin. This is show-and-tell in the age of AIDS.4

Support children throughout the loved one's entire process of dying.

On one hand, it is wrong not to tell the children a parent or loved one is dying of AIDS. On the other hand, do not be so blunt that each day children think the loved one will die that day. Tell them who will take care of them if a parent is dying. Truthfully address any questions if they have another parent whom they fear losing.

New York City and other cities have special programs to assist grieving children whose parents have died of AIDS.

At the Henry Street counseling center, a supervisor, Lela Charney, said AIDS orphans are encouraged to appreciate their parents redeeming values while recogn izing their mistakes. Otherwise, she said, "they may feel --- and people may tel l them 'Your father was no good, your mother was no good, and you're no good and you're going to grow up like them.'"

The great fear is that such prophecies will become self- fulfilling. "Unless these kids are able to grieve and talk about these things," said Ms. Ahto, "they will be (the) next generation of addicts and people with AIDS."5

Children need help before and after a loved one d ies of AIDS.

Especially if the loved one is a parent or other close adult or teenage relat ive, encourage him or her to leave tangible things for the child to be enjoy.

Even after death, the loved one can keep a connection with the child as he or she grows into adulthood. Take photographs of the loved one and of both the lov ed one and the child together, so that the child will have these mementos. Encou rage the loved one to leave special messages in writing and/or audio or video ca ssette tape to be given to the child at times such as a 16th birthday, high scho ol graduation, 21st birthday. Perhaps the loved one will choose a special gift t o be given at a significant time. One father wrote a book for his children:

When Bill Vincent realized he would probably die before his children were gro wn, he started searching for a way to remain a part of their lives.

He decided to write a book. It chronicles his struggle with hemophilia and hi s subsequent fight with AIDS.

To Mr. Vincent, who is 36 years old, the book will be his most important lega cy to Chad, who is 11 years ole, and Dawn, 7. It is a simple guide for the impor tant and not-so- important times of their lives: when they go to high school or to their first dance, when they graduate or marry, when they fight between thems elves or with others.6

There are many ways to bind up children's broken hearts.

Love is an essential ingredient for their healing. Gifts left by the loved on e such as those described above can mean so much and provide a source of comfort in the midst of grief. After the love one's death, the most important support o f children comes from those who are still living. Children need adults in the fa mily, church, and school to be present with them.

The following section describes some of the needs of children who are grievin g at various age levels and gives ideas of how to assist children accept the dea th of loved one.

All children grieve, even infants. Children's process of grief and understand ing of death varies with their age level. Reactions often seen in grieving child ren include: denial of the death, bodily distress, hostility and aggression, wan ting to replace the one who died, taking on of the deceased's characteristics, a nger at the surviving parent, anxiety, panic, and guilt.

Though usually not talked about, over half of adults and children have parano rmal experiences soon after a loved one's death. Often they sense the person's p resence. They may also see, hear, or feel the person. The person may appear in a vivid dream.

Paranormal experiences are normal, not crazy, and can be healing.

Newborn to Age Three:

  1. Any child will react when the family routine has changed and may be anxious, sometimes not understanding why things are different.

    If the mother of an infant is grieving, the infant will sense this emotion an d may withdraw from nursing or become irritable.

    The toddler will react to the response to death by adults and other children in the household. He or she may display shock, despair, pain, and cling to peopl e. Sleeping and eating problems may develop.

  2. Children in this age group can not understand death; however they can sen se and/or understand sadness. Any factual explanation about AIDS will be meaning less or confusing to them.

  3. If you see children grieving, give them extra love and warmth. Some ways to support them are offering extra hugs and holding, making food a little warmer , cooking some of their favorite foods, and giving them an extra blanket or a sp ecial toy to cuddle at night.

Ages Three to Six:

  1. These younger children believe that death is reversible. They think the dead have bodily functions and may want to put food or a light in the coffin. If the dead person is someone close, each day they may ask, "When is Daddy coming home ?" Respond patiently each day, "Daddy died, He's not coming back." Do not ridicu le them for asking the same question over and over again.

  2. They will connect events together that are not the same. For instance, th ey may worry, if a loved one has died, that someone else, particularly a parent, will die soon. They might not express this fear directly and say, "Uncle John w as sick and stayed in bed, Mommy is sick today" or simply, "Mommy is sick," or " Is Mommy sick too?" Be aware of the nuances of children's questions and that the y may be worrying about their security. Explain the difference between "very, ve ry sick" and "sick." Tell them measures that are in place for their care. Usuall y, it is unlikely that children will lose both parents. Unfortunately, in the ca se with AIDS, a growing number of children are becoming orphans. More sensitivit y will be required in talking to them.

  3. Children need explanations about emotions people are displaying and assur ance that their feelings of grief are OK. Tell them crying is all right for ever y one. Some people feel angry when someone they love dies. Children can feel ang ry too and that's OK. If they or other family members have an upset stomach or t rouble sleeping, explain that feeling bad like this happens to people when they feel sad or upset about a death. After a while, the bad feelings go away.

    Ages Six to Nine:

    1. Children who are a little older understand the finality of death but have few resources to help them cope with the loss. Like younger children, some may believe the dead person will come back.

    2. Explain to children about emotions they observe or feel and that these re actions (crying, anger, fear, emptiness) are OK for both boys and girls. Start a discussion about their feelings by describing your feelings. These older childr en need more detailed explanations of why the person died.

    3. Children of all ages fear abandonment. If one parent has died, they fear the loss of their other parent. If the other parent is HIV positive, this fear w ill have real basis. They may cling to the surviving parent and resist returning to school.

    4. Children at any age can regress. They may ask adults to do simple tasks, like tying shoes. They may be afraid to be left alone or afraid of the dark or h ave trouble doing school work which they did before. Regression enables children to return to simpler, safer time. It is usually temporary and should be allowed , or the children may bury their pain and fail to grieve properly. Most times re gression happens immediately after a death, but it may be delayed.

    5. These children believe in magical thinking and may think they caused a pe rson's death because they were angry at them or wished them dead. Make sure they do not feel responsible for the death.

    6. After a death, some children fear mutilation of the body and are scared o f horror movies, Halloween, or references to death. Because they connect death a nd violence, children may think that the dead person was murdered. Explain how t he person died (he/she was very, very sick with AIDS; the medicine didn't work a ny more; his/her body wore out).

    Ages Nine to Twelve:

    1. Children in this age group accept the finality of death. They may be curi ous about death and ask explicit details about how the body is embalmed, whether bodies smell, and how bodies decompose. Answer them simply and concretely. Do n ot accuse them of being morbid, even if they ask "gross" questions.

    2. It is very important that adults share their thoughts and feelings with c hildren this age so that they will know their thoughts and feelings are OK and t hey are not alone.

      Children may postpone their grief, for fear of upsetting Mom and/or Dad. They may wait until things are more stable at home. Like adults, children will feel anger, guilt, grief, and fear.

    3. These children will understand more about the impact of the death on the family than younger children. They will worry about their security, including th e family's financial security if that is affected. Give them information they ne ed about the future.

    4. Some children may "grow up" and exhibit adult behavior. Sometimes this re action is a method children use to replace the person who has died. Other times, children are responding to an adult's comment, "now you will have to be the man (or woman) in the house." This type of statement is inappropriate and damaging to children. Do not make it yourself or let others make it or other inappropriat e comments such as "You'll have to take care of ..... now that ..... is gone."

    It is never appropriate for children to take care of an adult; adults take ca re of children. They should not be encouraged to become "big men" or "big women. " They are children.


    1. Adolescents react to death similarly to adults, usually more intensely. T heir grieving will be exacerbated by typical adolescent problems. They may be ov erwhelmed by feelings. They may become more alienated from adults and even from peers. They may feel guilty.

    2. If a parent has died, adolescents, like younger children, may direct aggr ession at the surviving parent. Their anger and rage may be aimed at anyone avai lable: adults, peers, or God. The fact that children's explosive emotions don't make the dead person come back confirms the reality of the death and helps them to heal. Although confusing for adults, a child's ability to show explosive emot ions is healthy. If they are not allowed to vent, they may turn their anger inwa rd and develop low self-esteem, depression, chronic feelings of guild, and physi cal complaints. When children express pent-up emotions, the adult's role is to v alidate them without judging, retaliating, or arguing.

    3. Adolescents may act out in a variety of ways because of the pain, helples sness, fear and hurt caused by the death of a loved one. Acting out may include drug and alcohol abuse; fighting at school; academic failure; inappropriate risk -taking; and sexual activity, including getting pregnant. Not only the behavior must be addressed but its cause -- a blocked grieving process. The feelings need to come out.

    4. Adolescents, like younger children, may react to death by becoming overly mature. They may take on responsibilities appropriate only for adults. The resu lt will be repression of mourning and may mean a delayed grief response.

    Signs of healing:

    Like adults, children need time to grieve. When children begin to heal, you w ill notice signs such as the following:

    • they will show a return to stable eating and sleeping patterns;
    • a renewed sense of well-being;
    • an increase in clear thinking and good judgment;
    • more ability to enjoy life;
    • a recognition of the finality of death;
    • an establishment of new and healthy relationships.

    Grieving will still re-occur at holiday times, dates which remind the child of the loved one. Adults also grieve at these times. If symptoms of grieving are pronounced and/or persist for a long time, seek professional help.


    Books for Children

    About AIDS. Channing L. Bete C., Inc., 200 State Road, South, Deerfield, MA 01373. (800) 628-7733. Booklet #56721.-- A scriptographic coloring book for younger children.

    Aiello, Barbara and Jeffrey Schulman. Friends for Life. (Kids on the Block Series), Twenty First Century Books, 38 South Market Street, Fredrick, MD 21722. -- This book is geared to a fifth grade and above reading level. Story focuses on the reaction of a class to learning that a club sponsor has AIDS.

    Buscaglia, Leo and Charles B. Slack. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages. Holdt, Rihehart, and Winston, 115 West 18th St., NY 10011. -- This is an excellent book explaining cycles of life and death. It is suitable for pre-school and school-age children.

    Clifton, Lucille, Everett Anderso's Goodbye. Henry Holt and Company, 115 West 18 Street, NY,Ny 10011. -- The book tells the story of a young black boy who is mourning the loss of his father.

    Dodd, Robert V. When Someone You Love Dies: An Explanation of Death for Children. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1986. 16 pp. Order from Cokesbury (800) 672-1789; FAX (800) 445-8189. -- A 16 page bookler which gives a Christian explanation to children, ages 12 and younger, about death.

    Douglas, Eileen. Rachel and the Upside Down Heart: A True Story. 1990. Price Stern Sloan, Inc., 360 North La Cienaga Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90048. -- When Rachel was four years old, her father died. At first, Rachel felt so sad it was as if her heart was upside down. Then Rachel was able to find happiness again while still remembering her father.

    Fassler, David and Kelly McQueen. What's a Virus, Anyway? The Kids' Book About AIDS. Waterfront Books, 98 Brooks Ave., Burlington, VT 05401. (800) 456-7500; (802) 658-7477 -- This book introduces young children, grades one through five, to HIV and AIDS. The book covers HIV transmission and touches on other issues including death and dying and fear.

    Hausherr, Rosmarie. Children and the AIDS Virus, 1989. Houghton Mifflin Company, 52 Vanderbilt Ave., New York, NY 10017. -- Tells children how the virus is transmitted and how they can protect themselves. The book contains photographs of children with AIDS. It contains written text in large print to be read to younger children with larger text to be read additionally to older children.

    Jordan, Mary Kate. Losing Uncle Tim, A. Whitman, 1989. -- Daniel adored his Uncle Tim. One winter Daniel's mother told him that Uncle Tim had AIDS. Shows Daniel's reactions to Uncle Tim's worsening ondition and his final acceptance of his death. This book is for grades 2 to 6.

    LeShan, Eda. Learning to Say Good-by When a Parent Dies, 1976. McMillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Ave., NY, NY 10022. -- Written for older children in simple, direct language, this book discusses the questions, fears, and fantasies older children may have about a parent who has died. The book is also excellent for teachers or parents because it gives many insights into what the child ren may be experiencing. It can help parents to know how to work through their own or their children's grief.

    Merrifield, Margaret. Come Sit by Me, 1990. The Women's Press, 517 College St., Suite 233, Toronto, Canada M6G 4A2. -- Karen's school playmate Nicholas has AIDS. Her mother tells her it is OK to play with him but some other parents won't let their children do that. The parents are educated and allow their children to play with him. This book is for ages 4 to 8.

    Sanford, Doris. David has AIDS (In Our Neighborhood Series). Mutnomah, 1989. -- David is a hemophiliac with AIDS who is lonely for a playmate. The kids at school avoid him until Washington becomes his friend. David is able to face his death with courage. This book is for children in kindergarten through 4th grade.

    Stein, Sara Bonnet. About Dying. Walker and Company, 720 Fifth Ave., NY, Ny 10019. -- A book for families, children and parents. Suitable for preschool and school age children. Book has many photos and a well-written text.

    Stiles, Norman. I'll Miss You, Mr. Hooper. Random House, 201 East 50th Street, NY, Ny 10022. -- This book addresses the feeling of loss and sadness and issues of death and dying. It features characters from Sesame Street and is appropriate for pre-schoolers.

    Viorst, Judith. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney. 1971; rpt. 1988. Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Ave., NY, Ny 10022. -- A boy's cat Barney dies. Their family plans a funeral for Barney. His mother asks him to think of ten good things to say about Barney at the funeral. The book describes the boy's grieving process.

    White, Ryan with Ann Marie Cunnigham. Ryan White: My Own Story. New Yo rk: Dial Books, 1991. -- Ryan White, United Methodist teenager who died of AIDS in 1990, tells his story. The New York Yimes Book Review said the book is : "a powerful tale, of Ryan White's life and death, of the news' media's often l osing struggle to cope with complex issues, of the growing power of celebrity, of a family's struggle to rise above a tragedy that is, after all, nearly beyond words" (Joh Katz, May 12, 1991). This book is for ages 10 and up.

    What Young People Should Know About AIDS. -- Scriptographic booklet #15149 (Spanish #37176). For older children. See entry "About AIDS" for ordering information.

    About AIDS -- See information about how to order from Channing L. Bete in children's books section above. A scriptographic booklet #14274 (Spanish #14 308).

    AIDS Prevention Guide. US Department of Health and Human Services, Pub lic Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, 1989. Order from National AIDS Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 6003, Rockville, MD 20849-6003. (800) 458-5231. NAC Inventory no. D458. -- Includes fact sheets and other information to assist adults in talking to children of different age levels about AIDS.

    Grollman, Earl A., Ed. Explainging Death to Children. Boston: Beacon Press, 1967; rpt. 1969. -- This book contains ten articles on children and death, including developmental issues, the attitude toward death in different cultures , and separate chapters on Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish theological approaches to death.

    How to Talk to Children About AIDS (also in Spanish), 1989. Sex Information and Education Council of the US, 130 W. 42nd St., Suite 2500, Ny, NY 10036. (212) 819-9770. -- This 15 page brochure provides parents with guidelines of discussing AIDS with children. Specific conversation guidelines are given for infants and toddlers, preschool children, young children, preteens, and teens.

    Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. AIDS: The Ultimate Challenge. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987; rpt. 1989. Order from Cokesbury (800) 672-1789; FAX (800) 445-8189 -- Includes chapters on "Parents of Children with AIDS", Children and AIDS," and "Babies with AIDS."

    Parent Information Booklets, 1989. Children's Hospital of New Jersey, Children's Hospital AIDS Program, National Pediatric HIV Resource Center, 15 S. Ninth St., Newark, NJ 07107. (800) 362- 0071; (201) 268-8251. -- This information package of 7 booklets is particularly targeted toward parents who are HIV-positive or have children with HIV/AIDS. It discusses parent-child relations, family -support services, psychological factors, and other topics.

    Quackenbush, Marcia and Sylvia Villarreal. "Does AIDS Hurt? Educating Young Children About AIDS. Network Publications, ETR Associates, P.O. Box 1830, Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1830. (408) 438- 4080. -- Gives suggestions for teachers, parents and other care providers of children to age ten. Not only discusses age-appropriate information for children and questions they often ask but also how to talk to children about family members at risk of AIDS.

    Schaefer, Dan and Christine Lyons. How do We Tell the Children? Helping Children Understand and Cope When Someone Dies, 1986; rpt. 1988. Newmarket Press, 18 East 48th St., NY, Ny 10017 (212) 832-3575. -- This book is a step-by-step guide of how to talk about death with children from age two to the teens. It explains what children of different ages think and understand, how they feel, and how adults can help them deal with their feelings. At the end of the book is a 16-page crisis guide, which outlines all of the points in the book and includes sample "scripts" to help parents talk to their children about particular issues, including AIDS.

    Sunderland, Ronald H. and Earl E. Shelp. AIDS: Manual for Pastoral Care. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1987. Order from Cokesbury (800) 672-178 9. FAX (800) 445-8189. -- Includes a chapter on "Pastoral Care of People with AIDS" that briefly addresses issues of families of people with AIDS.

    TLC: Talk Listen Care Kit. The Parents' Kit that Makes It Easier to Talk to Your Kids About Sex, 1989. Harvard Community Health Plan Foundation, 27 mi ca Lane, Wellesley, MA 02181. (800) TLC- KITT; (617) 431-1070 -- This teaching a id contains sex education resource materials for parents and children ages 4-12 to improve communication about sex and related issues.

    US Department of Health and Human Services. Talking with Your Child About Cancer. National Cancer Institute, Building 31, Room 10A-24, Bethesda, MD 20 892-3100. (800) 4-CANCER. -- This free illustrated booklet is designed to help parents talk with children of all ages about coping with a terminal illness.

    Wolfelt, Alan D. A Child's View of Grief: A Guide for Caring Adults. Service Corporation International, 1990.-- A practical guide for adults relating to bereaved children. One helpful chapter includes "15 principles about children and grief" which include paraphrases of statements made by children about how thy want to be treated when they are grieving.


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HIV/AIDS Ministries Network Focus Papers are a publication of the Health and Welfare Ministries , General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, Room 330, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115. Phone: 212-870-3909. FAX: 212-749-2641. E-MAIL: Focus Papers, unless otherwise noted, may be quoted, reproduced and distributed with credit being given to Health and Welfare Ministries and the authors. These focus papers were written several years ago there some information is outdated.

The HIV/AIDS Ministries Network is a network of United Methodists and others who care about the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and those whose lives have been touched.