The men and women who serve our country and our communities – and their families – sacrifice much, including time away from loved ones, personal comfort and safety and sometimes – their very lives.

Helping our children understand the magnitude of these sacrifices is the key to teaching them to respect and honor those who serve in the armed forces, as police officers and as firefighters.

Interact with Those Who Have Served

Unless you live in a community where there are many military families, your children may not be exposed on a regular basis to seeing men and women in uniform. It can be difficult for a child to assign value to something that she can’t see, so an excellent way to cultivate respect for those who serve, or have served, is to seek interaction with them.

Some of the ways you can do this are:

– Visit your local police or fire station and monitor your community news for announcements about special programs they may offer in the community, such as bike safety, child fingerprinting and fire safety fairs.
– Take a family field trip to a museum or national park with military exhibits.
– Attend parades on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
– Visit a recruiting office with your children and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing a little with your family about what the men and women do in their branch of the service.

Share Your Pride

Share with your children, your own pride for those in your family, or close friends, who have served. This is an excellent way to help your children personalize the pride and respect for our service members you hope they will embrace.

Discuss your relatives and how they served our country, either recently or even several generations past. Find pictures and invite family members to share stories with your children

Discuss about Honor and Pride

Discuss the concepts of honor and pride in service with your children. Ask them about things they’ve done that they are proud of, and see how many people they can think of who are proud of them. How does this make them feel?

Then, ask them who they are proud of – who they should be proud of. Discuss why we should be proud of those in our country who serve. Then, brainstorm with your family several ways you can show your appreciation for these people. These activities can include:

– Baking cookies and delivering them to your local firehouse, along with a hand-made thank you note
– Reach out to your local USO to see if they need volunteers
– Write letters or send care packages to service members overseas
– Help with projects that serve injured soldiers and their families
– Ask at your local nursing homes if they have residents who are veterans, and arrange a visit to say thank you with cards and perhaps some fresh-baked cookies

Keep in mind that modeling respectful behavior is probably the most powerful way you can teach your children to show their respect to our service men and women. Let them see you in action.

Make it a point to thank the people you come across daily who serve, the veteran who proudly wears his cap, the soldier you see waiting for a flight in the airport, the police officer you see waiting in line in front of you at the convenience store. 

Give therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor. Romans 13:7

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