Imagine a young mother spilling her three excited little boys out of the car to run enthusiastically onto a playground on a crisp spring morning. Sitting quietly on a nearby park bench is a woman with the marks of time drawn on her face.
“Good morning. May I sit here?”
The elderly woman dusted off the wooden seat beside her.
“You know, I used to chase little boys around too. My boys are now men and are doing what they have always dreamed about. My oldest is a preacher in a little country church in Kentucky. My middle son is a Marine and has been in Iraq since February, and my youngest is a high school teacher and chases little ones all day long.
“I often wonder which of my boys has the toughest challenge. Which one will look back on his life and say, ‘I did just what I set out to do. I contributed to my country, made it stronger in the process, and still proclaimed the word of God’?”
Just as the young woman mentioned above, I, too, am a mother of three boys. Although they are not yet adults, I do still wonder what I am doing in their lives to instill pride in their nation, an understanding of war and sadness, and—most of all—the difference between government decisions and godly ones.
Parents today are surrounded by challenges to our children’s Christian upbringing. Many of these challenges we can choose to deal with or just ignore. One challenge from which we cannot turn is defining the difference between government decisions and moral ones. For Christians, the issues of same sex marriage, abortion, prayer in school, and the removal of the word of God from the public square are not in question. We are either for them or against them, based on what we believe to be biblically true. Less cut and dried is the teaching of our precious children to respect our nation and its leaders, support our troops, and follow the laws we are required as citizens to follow.
With my three boys, I often find myself taking advantage of situations that arise to explain as much about our government as I can. This is sometimes done on a serious note and sometimes not. When President Bush was in office, a brown-eyed boy asked why President Bush was “preaching on so many channels.” It was a perfect opportunity to explain what the “State of the Union Address” is and why we have it. Another time, our then seven-year-old did not understand why our neighbor did not start his class in the morning with prayer. I explained that we are allowed to pray before class because we homeschool, and we are not required to follow the rules concerning prayer in public school.
When issues arise concerning our soldiers and the role they play in countries far away, I find it is always good to discuss the positive and negative aspects of war. One of the difficulties of parenting is understanding that no matter how hard we try to shelter our children from the sadness of death and the fright of war, they will be aware of the actions taken by our country and will be looking to us for reassurance and, most of all, knowledge of the facts.
There are many ways to help children understand our government and how it is possible to combine issues of morality with political correctness and still act as a strong American. Take your daughter with you to the polling booth. Explain why we vote and the different types of governments that exist in the world. Read the U.S. Constitution with your son, and talk about what each line means. Discuss morality and prejudice with your kids, not only from a biblical standpoint but also from the view of an elected government official. The best strategy is open, honest discussion with children. Most of all, know the people you are electing into office. Take the time to look into the ways our judges, governors, and elected officials in Congress and the Senate have voted on important issues affecting Christians. That way you will be able to make informed choices when local, state, and national election times come, both on a national and a local level.
What will the future hold for my boys? Where will they be when they are grown? Kansas? Iraq? Teaching high school students? I can only hope that they will be proud of what they are doing, making a difference in the lives of those they touch, having pride in their lives, their country, their God.
We are not only raising our children to be strong, proud Americans; we are raising godly ones.