How To Teach Love Of Country To Our Children


 


The sky was dark, the night air was warm.  Only in the middle of the summer could you get away with no jacket at night in the mountains.  I sat with my family in the back of my dad's pickup truck and watched showers of light ranging down while I yanked a bite of Twizzlers with my teeth.  My siblings and I were all dressed in varying shades of red, white, and blue.  And even though I had never been to one of those shows where the fireworks were coordinated to patriotic music, I silently sang the national anthem in my head, proud and thankful that I was lucky enough to be an American.



We didn't have any consistent Independence Day traditions growing up.  We attended celebrations in many different towns, some years we got together with family, some years we stayed home.  We sampled fireworks shows in towns all around our state, and even out of state.  But one thing that was always consistent to me was the sense of pride in the air.  No matter where we went, it seemed like all the people around me were just as proud to live here, just as proud to be American as I was. It was like an invisible thread, binding all different kinds of people in my little sphere together, with love of country.  Even as a child it made me feel like an important part of something bigger.

Maybe it's just because I've grown up, but the 4th Of July feels different than it used to.  The most recent poll I've seen said 65% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.  I don't know what the data was when I was a kid, but just by the feeling in the air, I suspect the number wasn't that high.

I don't know what these statistics mean for how my kids will experience these national holidays.  Will they feel the same sense of patriotism that I did as a kid?  Or is my gut feeling right, and that national pride is dissipating a bit? 

I'm not sure what the future holds for our country, but I do know that I still want to teach my kids what a blessing it is to live here - not necessarily based on where we are going but on where we have been.  

What other country in the world was specifically founded on the idea that all men are created equal?  What other country in the world incorporated biblical principles into their founding documents?  

There is no other country that has gone to such lengths to guarantee the freedom of it's people, and for centuries people have lined up to be a part of it.  To be born here, and know nothing other than the kind of freedom we enjoy?  What a privilege that is.  I want my kids to recognize that privilege, to treasure it, and to learn that they have to be vigilant to protect it.  I want them to love their country and it's founding.  I want them to feel that swell of pride on the 4th.

It's might be harder to teach that these days, but as I was thinking about my childhood and how my parents taught me to love America, I realized that they never assumed I was too young to understand what they were talking about when it came to our country.  My dad explained politics, historical events, and our country's founding to me at a young age.  My parents reminded us every Independence Day how not everyone in the world lived in a country like ours.  They didn't hide difficult stories from me.  They didn't let me take our freedom for granted.

And teaching our kids patriotism starts with not letting ourselves take our freedom for granted.  We are extraordinarily blessed to live here, where freedom is our heritage.  For most of the world it is just a dream.

Memorial Day is coming up, when we will remember those who have fallen because they believed our freedom was worth fighting for.  If freedom is worth our countrymen dying for, it is worth spending some time talking about the importance of freedom to our kids.   It is worth the few extra minutes to explain why it is a blessing to be an American, so they don't take it for granted either.

No matter the national feeling, our kids can still feel that swell of pride, that gratitude that God has allowed us to live here.  It starts at home.

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I also think teaching love of country and thankfulness for freedom starts young, and before I wrap this post up I wanted to tell you about a new book Tommy Nelson sent me called God Bless Our Country.  All of the "God Bless" series of children's board books are adorable, but this is a great one to start a conversation about why we are grateful to live in America! The pages depict animal families doing different 4th-Of-July-type things, but it also touches on topics like honoring those who have sacrificed for our freedom.  Use this is a springboard to talk about how blessed we are to live where we are free!

Note: I received a copy of God Bless Our Country for free from Tommy Nelson.  All opinions are my own.








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Brittany said...

I love this. It's so important to teach our children that they need to be thankful for ALL their blessings and that surely includes being born to this country. A country where, if you don't like the direction things are headed, you have the ability to take a stand and make a change.

Hannah Hall said...

Hi Callie, I just saw your review and wanted to say thank you for writing about my book. :) I'm so happy to hear that you liked it! Blessings, Hannah

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