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Train Up a Child: Instilling patriotism in children

          There may be no better time than Independence Day for parents to instill in children the attitude and feeling of patriotism. As children experience the beautiful fireworks displays and understand that the same thing is happening throughout our nation, they can’t help but think about what it means to be living in America. Adults need to take advantage of this “teachable moment” to encourage the feeling of pride for the country and help the children understand, as much as possible, the cost paid for our freedom by our forefathers.

         One way to give a better understanding of our forefathers is to check the internet for information regarding some of those individuals. Children will be interested to learn about some of the inventions of Ben Franklin. He invented bifocals, the lightning rod, a grasping tool and even a musical instrument using glasses filled with different amounts of water. He designed a ship with compartments so that if one compartment sprung a leak, the leak could not sink the ship. 

         Only two of Thomas Jefferson’s six children survived into adulthood. He had specific instructions as to what he wanted on his tombstone. He wrote a political pamphlet in which he stated, “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.” He designed his home, Monticello, in detail and had it built on property inherited from his family.

         At the age of 16, George Washington helped survey Shenandoah lands. He was very interested in western expansion of our country. It will fascinate children to learn that he invented wooden false teeth. It has been said that we always see pictures of him with his mouth closed because of his wooden false teeth.

         There are many, many interesting things to learn about our founding fathers and our country if we just take the time to explore with the children. A visit to the library will uncover many interesting books for the children to read during the summer months.  

         It is easy to develop an appreciation of the history of our country. What is not so easy is to develop a feeling of appreciation for our country now. It is difficult as a teacher to help the children learn to respect the authority of our government when they hear so much criticism from parents, grandparents and others. When children hear parents say, “They are all a bunch of crooks!” they wonder why, then, are they supposed to obey laws made by those “crooks.”  It was a real struggle in my GED classes to get students to understand that our government is “we,” not “they.” 

         We need to be very careful to discuss policies of our government without “badmouthing” the people making those policies. It is very difficult in times of frustration to separate what our politicians do from who they are. We are commanded in the Bible to pray for our leaders, and we should do just that. Instead of venting our anger to those around us, we need to be finding ways to make the changes that we believe are needed in a respectful way. 

         Our country has had many problems since its beginning. We need to help our children join us in praying for our country and deciding how we can be the best citizens possible.    

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