by: Terra Leach, Director of Development
The recent passing of our country’s Fourth of July holiday reminded me of family picnics we used to take when I was a child. The smell of charcoal, seeing fireworks light up the sky, barbecuing hot dogs and burgers, are all memories and images I will never forget. And while all of these things are important, there is a bigger message we want to leave with our children regarding Independence Day and its meaning. The days surrounding July 4th are also a time to reflect on our freedoms as Americans. While we are taught the history behind the holiday and to say the pledge of allegiance in school, what are some ways we as parents and caregivers can teach our children about patriotism and the meaning behind freedom?
Here are a few steps.
- Talk to children about the upcoming election, what it means to be an American and the freedoms that we have as citizens here. Regardless of one’s political views or feelings about a particular candidate, explain to your children the value of voting and how so many fought for this right before us. The more you talk about your patriotic beliefs, the more it will
resonate with the youths you interact with.
- Consider volunteering with children in your life so they understand that in our country we help one another through hardship. This will teach young adults to appreciate all that they have, and develop empathy and sympathy for others. Emotional intelligence is crucial in a well-rounded youth.
- Get involved in your community alongside children in your life so that they can be knowledgeable about what it means to be an active, involved citizen. This could mean participating in neighborhood cleanups, or perhaps being a part of a veteran’s event or parade.
- Reflect. Talk to children in your life about the history of our country, how far we’ve come and how the past has resulted in the freedoms we’ve been awarded. Ask them questions about what they’ve learned in school and see if there is anything you can discuss or clarify further.
Here at Crossroads for Youth we’ve counseled hundreds of youth about being responsible for their actions and aware of their surroundings. By implementing some of the techniques above we’ve had success in demonstrating the freedoms they have, and how to be thankful for the opportunities they can take advantage of.
We hope you had a wonderful, safe holiday and that your discussions with your children, nieces, nephews, students and more, about patriotism continue all year long.