As our American holidays continue the slow decline into commercial bliss, I try to take the time to consider the message I am conveying to my children. The 4th of July is a celebration of a free nation, a place where ideas can be challenged freely and change can be implemented. Does it work perfectly? Of course not, it’s something I constantly take for granted and I want to remind myself why it’s important, so I can pass it along to my children. Here are 5 things every kid should know this 4th of July.
Be thankful for what you have
Kids don’t know how good they’ve got it. When I was growing up I had to beg to get call waiting and chose poorly in my BETA/VHS gamble. It can always be worse, ask the people who lived through the Great Depression. Be thankful.
Nobody is perfect
My son came home from school one day and told me his teacher had said the President was a mean man. I said, “Son, the President has a hard job, I’m glad I don’t have to decide the things he does. The people who run this country are always going to make mistakes, it’s always been that way and always will be. The best thing you can do is figure out how you can make it better. A lot of people talk about the way things should be, but the important ones do something about it.”
[Source: Fresh Hues Blog]
Freedom isn’t free
The reason we have candy-soaked parades and get to play with explosive items past our bedtime is because there are men and women who fight for us and keep us safe. They are forced to make decisions that we would never even have to consider. Tell a soldier how much you appreciate them today.
[Source: Photo of Christian Golczynski]
History Repeats Itself
For every young whipper-snapper who is making things “worse” there is an old one who can’t stand how things are these days. We cannot change the past with the future, but we can use it to make a better one.
Pay it forward
Children are an endless stream of wants and needs that find it inconvenient when the world does not bend to their will. Whenever my son takes out a library book, he never wants to return it. “If you kept all of the books, there would be no library. Someone built that library, so everyone could learn something. Whatever you take from it, you need to give back.” Should a country receive anything less?
At some point, the American Dream changed from something a person worked to earn, into a right that was given and deserved. We get the privilege of living in a country where we can speak our minds and know our rights. Our forefathers worked together, despite their differences, to build something worthwhile to pass on to their children. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children how to acknowledge the past, live in the present, and prepare a future for the generations to come. Every child that understands that is one more person to keep the real American Dream alive.