Imagining what your children will be when they grow up can be exciting. As parents, we want them to grow up to be well rounded adults and become something great… something we can be proud of and feel as if our parenting efforts were successful.
Listening to parents of young children speculate as to what they are going to be when they grow up is always amusing. Do these scenarios sound familiar? “My Johnny wants to be a doctor because he just loves science projects and helping others.” Or, “I just know that Susie is going to be a veterinarian because she absolutely adores animals and brings home something homeless every week.” And, “Our Michael is going to play professional soccer because he just lives for the sport.” These are all very noteworthy professions and very achievable for children who decide to make it a goal and actually succeed, however the reality is that we parents really have no idea what our kids will become when they grow up.
Here is something that you don’t hear very often: “Our son is going to grow up to be a combat soldier for the United States Army and serve as a volunteer for his country and someday make huge sacrifices including risking his life to fight for our freedoms.” So here’s a question for you…could you be raising a soldier?
When our son Jake was 9 years old he witnessed on September 11, 2000 the falling of the twin towers on television along with millions of other Americans. I will never forget what he said to me and his Dad while we were watching as a family. With his eyes still glued to the TV he said, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a Marine and fight for my country.” Of course I reacted as any protective mother and replied, “That’s really great Jake, but I bet you decide to be something else when you grow up.” And I left that comment right where he spoke it…in the living room in Cabot, Arkansas. In March 2012, Jake informed us that he was going to join the United States Army Guard as an Infantry combat soldier. And bam…just like that, the comment that our 9 year old son made 12 years earlier came true.
How do you know if you are raising a soldier? As a parent, it is such a difficult thing to diagnose. You see, a United States soldier is just a regular person who starts out as an ordinary child that grows up to be an ordinary adult who volunteers as an ordinary citizen to do extraordinary things. At least that’s how this Army mom sees it.
What kind of parents does it take to raise a solider? Because you can’t be really sure of your child’s future career choice while they are young, I think it takes patriotic parents who feel comfortable practicing patriotism at all times in order to fuel their kids’ love of country. We were always open with our kids on world issues and American values.
Here is my Sweet Southern Advice:
Educate your kids in America 101.
Learning how to be patriotic doesn’t have to be boring, however it does have to be taught. It should be fun and become a tradition within your family.
Teach your kids the meaning of self-discipline.
Education is key when kids are learning to make decisions for themselves. I have always told our kids that you must stand up for your freedoms and the issues in which you believe.
Respect the flag.
Teach your children to respect the flag. The American flag was designed in 1777 to represent the unity and strength of the country. Our military soldiers wear this flag on their arms to show dedication to their country…America. And it drapes the casket of those who sacrifice their lives when they are flown home.
Encourage patriotic leadership.
Children learn by example. Embrace teaching moments about our country’s heritage, show appreciation by thanking an American soldier when you see them in uniform, and present your kids with opportunities to show leadership within your family and among their friends.
It’s important that we be thankful daily for our freedoms. The July 4th holiday is about more than just food and fireworks. Teach your kids that it is really about sacrifices that have been made to allow us to live free in the United States of America.
Happy Fourth of July! Spread some love of country among your family and friends.