When it comes to teaching patriotism, there are few examples better than our Founding Fathers. I, personally, love the books by David McCullough as he writes the history of our nation and its founders in a profoundly personal manner that touches the soul. Teaching patriotism to our children should include:
- Ensuring they know the words to the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance.
- See their parents showing respect to the flag.
- Speaking about politics and disagreeing with the leadership of our country in productive manners.
- Informing them of their American Rights in our Constitution.
- Show and tell them what their responsibilities are such as voting, obeying the law, paying taxes and what the results of each of these action entail.
Most importantly, give them the opportunity to share their opinions about what is happening in the news today. Ask them: How are citizens showing their patriotism? Give them a voice and let them know that you respect their opinions (even if you disagree with them).
Allowing our children to have their own opinion -especially in politics -can be a highly volatile experience. It is not always a good experience when they share an opinion that differs highly from their parents. My oldest son pompously came home from school one day to announce that he supported a dictatorship form of government. Immediately, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up on end. I was appalled. I did not handle his announcement very well. I provided him with a list of reasons as to why his opinion and dictatorship was wrong.
The response only alienated my son. For days, we communicated in a strained manner. He had no respect for me because I didn’t respect his opinion. I finally, prayed, with fervency to help me figure out what to do. One afternoon, following school, I invited him to help me finish baking something. He reluctantly joined me -only persuaded because I had chosen one of his favorite dishes! I started the conversation by apologizing for not listening to him and overpowering him with my perspective. He was silent. He still wouldn’t offer anything. We worked in silence for several minutes before I made another attempt. I asked: “Tell me why dictatorship is a better method of government.”
He passionately started. He shared his thoughts. When he finished, I agreed with everything I could that he stated, creating a relationship of trust and beliefs that we could agree upon. Then, I continued with my pros and cons with dictatorship. I didn’t change his mind that day. He did eventually change his mind. However, what I gained from that day was a new perspective on a good way to teach my son about patriotism.
How have you taught patriotism to your children?
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including The Art of Learning Journals, Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.