My mother taught me never to discuss politics, religion or money, and how desperately I wish that lesson was one I could pass down to my children. But we don’t live in that day and age anymore. Open floor plan concepts in our new and redesigned homes allow children to hear our adult conversations clearly, and large TVs provide access more readily than when I was young (and given a designated playroom in an unfinished portion of the basement). Social media has thrown us into the depths of immediate information-passing, where assessments and assumptions are widely distributed with little regard for facts and lacking responsibility for integrity. I’m terrible about handing over an electronic device without turning off my alerts so my son has seen some very controversial Facebook and Twitter statements.
However complaining about the current state of affairs for our state and country might seem like the new normal, but rising above the status quo is still the American way – right? We are supposed to quit complaining and do something other than re-tweeting or Facebook-ing political sarcasm – right?
So raising good citizens starts with me.
My enthusiasm for our great nation is fueled by history, but for kids, that can be code for B-O-R-I-N-G. So we introduced Liberty’s Kids as our Saturday morning cartoon and cereal ritual. We have annual traditions on American holidays that include watching the The Presidents, The States, and my favorite, America-The Story of Us, on the History Channel. We also strive to make family vacations seeing what America has to offer—theme parks, ballparks, national parks, Freedom trails, monuments…we love them all!
Here are a few other things we do to keep the American spirit going strong in our home:
⋅ We start our mornings by putting out our flag. This daily activity helps us teach our son about honor and respect, flag code, allegiance and loyalty—even when we don’t always agree with direction our country is headed or its decision-makers.
⋅ I love the quote, “Small minds discuss people, large minds discuss ideas.” So when I hear or see conversations that condemn anyone for speaking ill of our armed services, but allow for blatant blasphemy of our Commander in Chief, I am left scratching my head. In our home, we discuss ideas. When people say whatever they want about the Second Amendment, I remind my son we should also give thanks for the First Amendment.
⋅ We keep a copy of our Constitution handy, because we often make our kids support their ideas with documentation, so we do the same. Simply pointing out the reference is sufficient, we don’t make our kids turn in an annotated bibliography (although I do secretly role play “The Supremes” in my head during these moments).
⋅ We participate. This year’s exciting and controversial election cycle is a great lesson in participation and civic duties. We take our kids with us to vote. We email our representatives, and we inform ourselves of current events by sources beyond Facebook and Twitter.
⋅ We identify ourselves as Americans first and foremost. When we are asked to describe ourselves, I readily tout that I am a woman, wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, and American. We believe in the American spirit, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These are individually realized ideals, but everyone’s should be respected.