“I don’t really love my country,” an angry student recently commented on Facebook. Then she listed all the things she didn’t like.
And I get it. I have a list, too.
But if you focus solely on what you don’t like about your country, then you’ll probably overlook all of the good things and discount the blessings.
It’s true that our history is marked by injustice, crime, abuse and racism. And yet, there isn’t a country on this planet that hasn’t struggled with the same problems.
No, 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, our 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.
As July 4th approaches, I want to balance out all the negative things our kids hear by giving them reasons to love America. I want them to appreciate this country and I’m sure 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—the United States of America—to belong to. You can trust that He has a good plan for your life, even when it doesn’t seem good.
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. Being grateful for God’s handiwork enables you to better enjoy and respect it.
3. You are free to speak out. You can say just about anything in America. You can sing, or write, or publish whatever you want. You can complain about the president (and right now, many are exercising this right). You can criticize the mayor or write about the problems with the police force. This isn’t the case in many other countries. As a writer, free speech is one of the blessings I enjoy the 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 had been confiscated and his entire family was sent to prison 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. It’s something I hope to never take 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 serves 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. Recently, 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. 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 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!
Download this fun 4th of July Quiz for your kids!
It’s a free and fun activity for the holiday. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request the July 4th quiz and I’ll send it to you!