There is so much going on today in our country. We can use this to teach and train our children. Everything from healthy debate and disagreement to responsible citizenship. But how do we do it? It seems so overwhelming right now… one place to start is the difference between deserve and serve. Many people like to tout the rights of citizenship and many people go to great lengths to become citizens, but we also must accept the responsibilities of citizenship.
What do we deserve?
We have raised generations since World War II who ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” We need to work to raise a generation that believes they have a responsibility to “do” for this country. It’s not that I pay taxes so that makes me an entitled renter of this great country. I pay taxes and that makes me a responsible receiver of the blessing. Why do we only rally when we think we might have something taken away? Why do we only seek God when we fear? God has blessed us with this great privilege called America. We need the perspective that some had to work hard to get here. For those of us who have been given this blessing, we need to remember to whom much is given, much is required.
Godly citizenship does not boil down to your opinion, to what you want, to your party affiliation, your personal sociological perspective, marriage or sexual preference or your desire not to offend. Teach your children how to choose issues from what God says. Let’s begin thinking of raising a generation that doesn’t only want to get a piece of the pie but a generation willing to do their part.
So what do we do from here? The first thing is making the choice to be informed. Look into and research the issues. Don’t just take others’ word for it, find things out for yourself. This is a great discipline that you can even do with your older child or teen. Make it a game to see who can become the most informed on an issue even if it’s just days before the election. You are teaching skills that can always be used. Be sure to take back what you learned and compare it to God’s word. Is there anything that Scripture says about that particular issue?
The next thing you can do is make the choice to be active. If there are important issues at hand, make sure that you are at the very least setting the example, or including your kids, and writing, calling or emailing your politicians about it. With the nation seemingly as polarized on beliefs as it is, the next step may be difficult, but make the choice to speak up. We can set the example in choosing to discuss the issues POLITELY. Make sure that you are setting the example for your child and engaging in an adult-like and Christ-like manner. In today’s culture of attacking each other venomously, observing a healthy discussion can be an invaluable lesson.
Be Salt and Light
As a Christian, part of our calling is to be salt and light to those around us. Salt adds flavor to the environment. Light does several things – illuminates the darkness, gives direction and reveals flaws. We can see in the Bible how the children of Israel continuously turn away from following God. Many times God had to bring in a judge, prophet or king to remind them of His ways, but within a generation they had fallen away again. We can see this pattern in our nation when you look at how far we have come in only a little over 200 years.
This starts at home. We must be salt and light in our home then to those around us. How will our children know how to be to be good citizens unless we teach them? We cannot “subcontract” out our citizenship, thinking either I’m too busy or someone else will do it. Our country has no hope for change unless we choose to be the change or raise the next generation to bring about that change.
Another thing we can do is try to create excitement for our older children. One family of elementary aged kids on down all piled in their parents bed having a “debate party.” They were obviously allowed to stay up late and the parents had all kinds of fun snacks available. Talk about creating excitement over something that would otherwise not interest children at all! This not only sets up a fun family experience, but it creates an environment for discussion. We can then explain to our children and discuss as a family what the candidates are saying. And discuss how they were relating to each other. Was it kind? Could they have handled it differently? We can also begin to teach discernment by exposing our children to things like the debates.
Another thing that we can do is instill in our children our country’s amazing history. There are so many who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. We can spend time making sure our children have a sense of everything that has been sacrificed for them. This is a great lead in for the holiday season that is rapidly approaching! This month could be a pivotal point for our country. Don’t miss the opportunity to use it for training your children!
Visit parentingonpurpose.org for more advice from Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts.
For more articles by Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts, visit goodnewsfl.org/author/dr-bob-barnes-and-torrey-roberts/