Do your kids appreciate their freedom as Americans? Do they really understand that many of the privileges we enjoy are a direct result of sacrifices of men and women who have served our country?
It’s easy for kids to grow up thinking Independence Day is about picnics, water games and fireworks, and they probably need to hear a different message. But it isn’t easy. We can talk about it, but often our words aren’t enough.
(And to any non-American readers, you can probably adapt this message to your country and the holiday that most closely resembles July 4th.)
How can we instill more patriotism and gratitude in our children?
One powerful idea is to get them together with a war hero or two. Our kids’ perspective might change if they talk to someone who dodged bullets in a foxhole in Vietnam or carried sixty pounds of gear through the desert in Afghanistan. When those people use a word like “sacrifice” or talk about why “freedom isn’t free,” our kids will start to understand.
Another great idea is to set an example. Have your children seen you approach a member of the military in public—in a store, the airport, at the park, or wherever—to talk for a few minutes and just say “thank you”? Our modeling plays a large role in shaping our children’s behavior and attitudes, and patriotism is no exception.
Dad, this year find ways to open your kids’ eyes and minds about the incredible privilege of freedom.
What are some other ways we can help our kids go a little deeper and think about their country and the blessings they have? There are a few more ideas in the Action Points below, but what have you done? Do you have 4th of July traditions that make it more meaningful? Please share more ideas on our Facebook page.
Action Points & Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
- Ask your kids, “What’s one change you would make to improve our country?” Then talk about things “regular people” like you could do that might actually make a difference.
- Give your children a dollar bill—or a ten or twenty—and talk about what the different mottos mean on our currency.
- Ask your kids what they know about slavery—in U.S. history and/or in other times and places. Talk about what “freedom” might mean to someone who’s been denied it for a long time.