How Can We Teach Our Kids to Love Their Country?
“It is the duty of citizens to contribute to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity.” (CCC 2239)
In years to come, I hope my children and grandchildren will carry on our family tradition of sitting around the campfire on the Fourth of July with friends, holding American flags and singing patriotic, Christian songs. I hope that they will still have the same profound love of America in the depth of their hearts that they now have as young children. I pray that the same joy they savor as they sing America the Beautiful will remain with them, alive in their spirits, as it is now, and that the Pledge of Allegiance will always be more to them than just a mantle-piece of United States history.
Yet, when I look around at our nation today, I can’t help but wonder — and worry. Will my children be able to go to Holy Mass freely, post Bible passages on social media or run a Catholic business? Will their beloved nation remain the land of the “somewhat free” and the “wannabe brave” or will socialism have strangled every last inch of freedom and bravery away from it?
Will they even want to sit around a campfire and sing patriotic songs with their friends, or will their hearts be too discouraged over what has happened to the country their parents and grandparents once knew, to even sing at all? I don’t know — only God knows.
I can’t control the future, but I can affect it by doing my very best now and today with my children. I can teach them authentic American history, help them strike up a profound friendship with the United States Constitution, and pray with them about what it means to be a true Catholic and a patriot. I can nurture their talents so that one day they may help America rise tall and strong once again. With joy in my heart, despite everything genuinely “American” that is crashing down and falling apart around me, I may show my children that I am proud to be an American, regardless.
In his mid-20s, my father left the Netherlands because it was being overtaken by socialism, cultural decadence and atheism. He left nearly all he had and migrated to America so that he could raise his children in a Christian nation where honest work was abundant and ingenuity was commonplace. His English wasn’t good and he was terrified — having moved to Los Angeles, of all places — but his spirit was upright, and Our Lord watched over him because of it.
When I grow discouraged by current events, I remind myself that I truly do live in “one nation under God.” I remember that no human force can destroy the Christian faith upon which our nation was founded. Try as they might, but they cannot burn the last copy of the Constitution, pretend our founding fathers were atheists, or erase the God who created America. The love with which he crafted each valley and mountain, and the wisdom with which he endowed our Founding Fathers, can never be taken away. Liberty is a work of God — it can be threatened, but it cannot be put to death forever.
Recently, I have been searching for materials with which to educate my children on the history of our nation, and what it means to live out its founding principles. I came across a company named Bushel and Peck Books, which has created a highly engaging work of American historical art named The Interactive Constitution. When I asked the author, David Miles, about the book, he said, “More than ever, our kids (and adults) need to appreciate the miracle of the Constitution. … We earnestly hope — we pray, even — that it will continue to be respected as the guiding light it was meant to be.”
Additional accurate, informative and inspiring resource materials for children include:
- Rush Revere audio and print books
- Understanding the U.S. Constitution (sold by Seton Educational Media)
- Grade-level history books created by Seton Press
- Land of Our Lady History Series (sold by Tan Books)
- How Our Nation Began by Don Sharkey, Sister Margaret and Father Philip Furlong (a beautifully illustrated, more recent edition is sold by Barnes and Noble)
- United States History Coloring Book (Dover Press)
- America the Beautiful to Paint or Color (Dover Press)
- History texts sold by Mother of Divine Grace Books such as Pioneers and Patriots by Father Furlong
- Pioneer Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes by David C. King (amazon.com)
- The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (sold by Seton Educational Media)
- Childhood of Famous Americans series by various authors (sold by Seton Educational Media)
With tools like this in our hands, along with the graces of Our Lady’s Rosary, we can illuminate the minds of the future generation and make their souls resilient with hope.