The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious of Parenting

Happy 4th of July: Raising A Patriotic Child

on July 3, 2012

My father was a very patriotic man.  He loved the USA.  He often wore t-shirts printed with the flag, and figurines of eagles were everywhere in the house.  When he became sick with Leukemia, I even bought him an eagle to keep by his bedside.  He believed that America represents the best of the best.  He stood very straight and tall and proud when he recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sung the Star Spangled Banner!  My father lead by example, and I too am very proud to be an American. 

However, I get very frustrated in my classroom when students refuse to stand for the pledge and argue it is their right not to stand.  I try to make them understand that the fact they even have that right is the reason they should stand.  I point out that in some other countries they wouldn’t have the right to choose whether to stand.  My argument often falls on deaf ears which supports the notion that there is something now called “The Patriotism Gap”. 

What does it mean?  An excerpt from this article sums it up:  “…Independence Day poll on patriotism taken by Fox News in 2005 found when it asked Americans: “All things being equal, would you prefer to live in the United States or would you prefer to live in some other country?”

“Most of us probably feel like almost 95 percent of the respondents over thirty who said they preferred the good old USA.  No big surprise there, but nearly a quarter of our young people—the very Americans who are supposed to fight the war on terror, beat back the economic challenge of China and India, and keep our country strong, safe, and prosperous—would hightail it out of here if they could!”

“And an even higher number of our young teens are pessimistic about America’s future.  In a 2005 Time magazine cover story about thirteen-year-olds, the editors themselves were surprised at how gloomy young teens have become about America: “In a shift from just five years ago, when the new millennial teens were generally optimistic about the future . . . almost half, or 46 percent, believe that by the time they are their parents’ age, the U.S. will be a worse place to live in than it is now.” 

“A startling percentage of our youngsters have little or no hope for America’s future.  Almost half, it seems, have no confidence in their own abilities to ensure that our country will remain a good place to live when they are ready to bring up their own children.”

 So, how do we raise patriotic children and close this so-called “Patriotism Gap”?  And more importantly, why would we want to raise patriotic children?

The why is simple.  If we raise patriotic children, they will become patriotic adults.  They will work to maintain the greatness of this country by acting and making necessary changes, great and small, to better this country and the lives of those who live in it. 

Here are some tips on the how:

1) Fly The Flag:  Take some time to teach your children the meaning of the flag.  The thirteen stripes on the flag represent the thirteen original colonies.  The fifty stars represent the fifty current states.  Figuratively, the flag stands for freedom and democracy. It represents the unity of America, our common cause, and the hope for a better tomorrow.

2)Take Your Children To Vote With You:  I have been doing this for years.  It serves a couple of purposes: first, it allows them to see inside of the voting facilities so when it is time for them to vote they aren’t “scared.”  We often avoid doing the unknown.  Second, it opens up the opportunity to discuss the importance of having a say in our government and how it is done in other countries. 

3) Model Patriotic Behavior: As I have said before, we have to lead by example.  Don’t be afraid to wear a t-shirt with the flag on it or to thank a veteran for their service to our country.  Stand up tall with your hand over your heart when you say the pledge and sing loud when you sing the Star Spangled Banner.  You can even practice democracy at home by allowing the kids to vote on such things as which tv show to watch.

4)Bring America To Life: I am lucky to leave in a state with much history and only a few hours away from Washington DC.  But all of America is packed full of history, and you should take a moment to find local areas that would allow you to explore this history with your children.  You could also take virtual tours of historical places that might be out of reach for you.  Read books about America; watch movies about America; by bringing America to life for your children they can internalize the importance of being patriotic!

5) Make Being An American Fun: Celebrate the American Holidays — Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day.  Honor such days as the Flag Day, 9/11, and The bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Give thanks for our country during Thanksgiving.  Have cookouts, do crafts, and celebrate the greatness of our country.



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