“This country absolutely stinks!” an angry student recently commented online. Then she listed a bunch of things she didn’t like.
And I get it. I have a list of gripes, too.
But if you focus solely on what you don’t like about your country, then you’ll probably overlook all of the good and discount the incredible blessings. You might even forget to be grateful for what you have.
That’d be a shame.
It’s true that our history is marked by injustice, crime, abuse and racism. And yet, can you name a country that hasn’t struggled with the same problems?
There’s not one.
I’ve titled this post, “Why You Should Teach Your Kids to Love Their Country” because sadly, no one else will.
Most likely, your kids will not learn patriotism at school.
They will not learn to love America from watching the news.
Odds are, they will not learn to appreciate our country from their friends.
Consider this: what would our enemies prefer? For our kids to love & appreciate our country OR to think it “absolutely stinks?”
As we celebrate July 4th, I want to balance out all the negative things children hear by giving them reasons to love America. I want them to appreciate this country and I’m hope you do, too.
Here’s why our kids (and the rest of us) should love our country:
1. God placed you here. The Bible tells us that, “God began by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live.” (Acts 17:26 NCV) In other words, God chose for you to live right here, right now. In His great wisdom, He gave you this country to belong to. You can trust His good plan for your life, even when it doesn’t seem good.
I love this quote: “God gave us the whole earth to love, but since our hearts are small, He ordained for each one a special place—a home—to love above all.” (Adapted from the writings of Runyard Kipling)
2. It’s a beautiful land. From the raging waters of Niagara Falls to the endless mazes of the Everglades, to the white sand deserts and to the giant Redwood forest, our country is filled with natural treasures. These abundant blessings of nature are our heritage. It’d be a shame to take them for granted. When you’re grateful for God’s creation, it helps you enjoy more and respect it more.
3. You are free to speak out. You can say just about anything in America. You can sing, write, or say whatever you want. You can complain about the president (and right now, many are). You can criticize the mayor or write about the problems with the police. This isn’t the case in many other countries. As a writer, free speech is one of the blessings I appreciate most.
4. You are free to practice your own religion. Once I heard a Chinese refugee describe his imprisonment in China. Because he had led a secret Christian church, his home was confiscated. His family was imprisoned for two years. I’ll never forget the look on his face or the tremor in his voice as he talked about how he treasured the freedom to worship. I hope I never take this freedom for granted.
5. You have access to a free education. In South Sudan, 84% of the women are illiterate. In contrast, our country provides all of its children with a free education. When I was young I didn’t like school very much, so it was hard for me to see it as a blessing. Maybe your kids feel the same way. Remind them that school is a privilege that many–especially women–don’t have. A good education can serve you for an entire lifetime.
6. You are free to travel. In many countries, such and Russia and China, citizens are required to have exit visas before they can travel abroad. That means the government decides when and if you can leave. In 2019 I visited Slovenia, a former part of Communist Yugoslavia. Our tour guide told us how she was prohibited from visiting her grandmother in a neighboring country, years ago. Sadly she met her grandmother only once, even though she lived less than 100 miles away.
7. The opportunities are endless. In most countries, opportunity is limited and your place in society is assigned; in America, you determine them for yourself. Your life is like a blank canvas, and you are the artist. Incredibly, a beggar’s son can become president in America. An immigrant can own his or her own business. You meet self-made men and women everywhere. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once said: “A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in . . . and how many want to get out.”
Americans are blessed, not only with the freedom to dream, but with the freedom to pursue those dreams.
I grew up celebrating the 4th of July with my family and friends at the lake. Every year, we paused to thank God for our country before tearing into platters of bar-b-que chicken with white sauce, mounds of coleslaw and creamy potato salad, and of course, American flag cake. After dark, we shot firecrackers and ran around the yard waving our sparklers, celebrating our freedom.
Like an invisible thread, our love of country bound us together. Even as a child, it made me feel like an important part of something special. It gave me a sense of security, belonging and gratitude.
Every kid needs that. I hope you agree.
Instill patriotism in your kids by teaching them:
• Why you love & appreciate America (you can use the reasons above).
• About America’s symbols: the flag, the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, etc.
• That our country isn’t perfect, but no country ever has been or ever will be.
• Why we celebrate Independence Day.
• To honor our soldiers.
• To be responsible citizens, by voting, volunteering and obeying the law.
• What to do during the national anthem.
• That there’s a better country. While America is a good place, you can belong to something much greater: the holy nation of God (1 Pet. 2:9).
Have a great 4th of July!
Related posts: What You Should Teach Your Kids About Politics, Teach Your Kids to be Grateful for Their Country (on Crosswalk.com)
Download this fun 4th of July Quiz for your kids!
It’s a free and fun activity for the holiday. Sign up in the form below and I’ll send you the quiz.