“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. “ Romans 13:1
What a challenge we have as parents and teachers to help our children learn to love our country and respect our leaders! It is tempting to think that the current environment in our country makes such a task impossible. However, a study of Old Testament kings and leaders reminds us that in Bible times things were not perfect either. Even the most outstanding leaders had their faults. In spite of all the things happening, it still is possible to help our children learn to be good citizens.
Children need a basic understanding of how and why our country was founded. They need examples of good citizens for patterns of behavior. Boys and girls need to learn that we can love and respect people in spite of their shortcomings.
We cannot depend upon our schools to teach about the foundation of our country. Though some may do a good job, many don’t. The home can pick up the slack by providing good reading and experiences. The Internet has a wealth of material to research. There are many national monuments to visit. Governor Huckabee has some good material for children. Local libraries have a wealth of information. Even storytelling by grandparents will go a long way to help children understand struggles of early pioneers. Visiting real heroes such as veterans is effective in developing appreciation for the cost of our freedom.
We need to be so very careful when talking about our leaders and country. How can we expect children to respect leaders when they hear parents or others talking about “crooked politicians”? It seems that even Christians may think that they can say bad things about our leaders and it is alright. When we are commanded to love our neighbor, that means everyone, even politicians. Children learn much by the examples of those around them.
It is important to help children understand that we can hate actions of people, but at the same time love the people. It is sad that many cannot separate a person from their actions. Many seem to think that if a person’s actions are unacceptable, they must hate the person. No, we are to pray for people and love everyone. As a Christian, we must always try to help others overcome bad behavior—not simply condemn the person. This is such an important thing for children to learn! It’s okay to hate what a person does, but we should never stop loving the person.
Knowing that our leaders would not be where they are without God putting them there, we are obligated to respect them. By respecting them, we are respecting God’s choices. Choosing the right reading and viewing material for children is a must to develop good thinking and good citizens. Providing experiences that show what others have done to provide our freedom is more effective than just telling children what we want them to know. We really can raise patriotic children! ν