Independence Day: How to Foster Independence in Kids and Country

How do we foster healthy independence in our own kids and in our nation? The two seem inseparably  linked to me. So, I brought in my expert on childhood philosophy and fun, my daughter Anna Pierce, to brainstorm some fun ways families can foster freedom in our country by nurturing healthy independence in their own children’s heart. What she says may surprise you. (For our complete interview, click below or go to Fireside Talk Radio.)

Anna and I chat about how to foster independence in healthy ways for family and country.

Maybe, like us, your family has a strong independent streak. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Especially when we think about how our forefathers committed to fight for freedom. Still, with toddlers and teenagers, independence can flat wear out parents!

Have some fun

A national holiday is a great time to reboot and focus on family fun. With summer in full swing at our house, we float watermelons so often, my grandchildren may think they grow in water! Anna suggested neighborhood parades and collecting kiddie pools for all kinds of fun. (For more on initiating neighborhood parades, listen our 28 minute podcast above.) 

“I’m going to fill one kiddie pool with ice and drinks. And I’m gonna fill one with cold water for the adults,” laughed Anna. But she doesn’t mean drinking water. “I’m going to put all my lawn chairs in a circle so the adults can soak their feet in the cold water while the kids do water balloons and squirt guns.” As an artist, Anna also likes face painting for backyard gatherings.

“There are tons of homemade recipes for face paint,” adding one caveat because food coloring and drink mixes can stain skin for a long time, “read the recipe carefully and try it somewhere it won’t show first!” (For more ideas to create fun family memories, click here for more podcasts.)

To foster independence in our kids, remember kids always learn better when they’re laughing and having fun. Once the stage is set for fun, make the holiday more memorable by emphasizing the reason we celebrate.

Acknowledge with Gratitude the Sacrifice of Others

In order to emphasize the sacrifice of heroes, Anna anticipates asking one of her husband’s dearest friends to talk about why he served in the military.

“Because just asking another adult a question in front of someone younger is a way of honoring them,” Anna says, “I visualize asking him questions about why he chose that (to serve) in front of our son.”

In order to honor beloved elders who did not serve, she suggests changing up your questions only slightly. When we show gratitude for others’ sacrifice, we foster independence in our kids as they learn to serve others, too.

“You can ask them to explain something to your kids like ‘Why do we honor the flag?’” Anna suggested several more questions, like What do the colors represent or Why is the eagle a symbol of our country. All those symbols prompt powerful messages, according to Anna. (To receive free weekly ideas about fostering freedom in families and communities, click here.)

Promote Education

“Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.” ~ George Washington, January 8, 1790, in his first annual address.

Our forefathers committed to the idea that people should be educated in order to read, to learn, and to participate fully in public discourse, thus ensuring all the freedoms for future generations. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, all these wonderful freedoms we have hinge on our citizens’ understanding of the rights we enjoy, according to Anna.

As an enthusiastic educator, Anna offered a list of fun ways to teach kids to respect and cherish our nation’s history, starting with memorizing speeches and important documents. After the Declaration of Independence, she particularly likes Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The rhythm of the poem captures the horse’s hoofbeats and the anxiety of danger. Freedom always includes danger and sacrifice, including additional historic moments of freedom.

“Throughout American history, other leaders influenced our national perspective on freedom, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King,” added Anna, “They dealt with some of the same issues again. People were making sacrifices because they wanted freedom.”

Additionally, don’t forget to teach your kids all the verses of patriotic songs. For instance, as with America the Beautiful, many of our most patriotic songs are actually hymns of gratitude to God for freedom. (For more ideas about raising creative kids, click here.) By revering God, we foster independence in our kids by teaching them to look to God, not men, for direction.

Never Marginalize Free Will

As citizens of a spiritual kingdom, how do Christians reconcile their loyalty to God and country? For Christians, there’s something so glorious and freeing in a deep understanding of how much God loves freedom. That is, God loves freedom so much He gave individuals free will to choose their path. In fact, He loves free will so much, He created a plan to pay for our mistakes and our sin nature long before humanity’s arrival here on earth.

By giving us each a free will, He set us free to choose a relationship with Him or to reject Him. 

Christians recognize and cherish a beautiful truth. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the price of our sin. Thus, we can come into a relationship with God freely.

I know, I know, that beautiful truth often gets lost in the rhetoric. Certainly, those who do not follow Jesus can’t be blamed if they miss the main point altogether. (For Free weekly ideas about how faith can impact family unity, click here.)

To the outside world, it must seem like Christians struggle with perfectionism, always focusing on the sin of others, without acknowledging our own human frailties. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. (For more of Anna’s thoughts about how poor choices can impact the whole family, listen to our interview above.) Free will means Christians still face the same temptations all humans face to choose selfishness.

However, with God’s Spirit Himself residing in our hearts, we now experience a new kind of freedom; the freedom to choose wisely with others’ best interests in mind. Beyond all imagination, true freedom is really about the freedom to choose a relationship with God.

Raising Kids with Healthy Independence

Unselfishly channeling your child’s natural independent streak is for warrior parents, not wimps. But, hey, we come from strong freedom-loving stock! (We’ve got lots more ideas for raising creative kids here.)

“It is an era of life where we are raising children, but our goal is for them to be independent adults,” Anna continues, “They are going to be their own individual people. Independent implies free. They are going to have to make choices and utilize their free will.”

Will your child disobey and rebel? Or will your child stand alone for what is right in the face of cultural pressure to do what is wrong? We can foster independence in our kids by modeling a healthy respect for their free will.

“The prayer of my heart as I’m parenting is that everything we do would equip them to be powerful, brave, and faithful in how they utilize their free will,” Anna summarizes tenderly.

Gratefully, our family sends out our heart-felt gratitude to all who currently serve sacrificially in our Armed Forces and our First Responders on this day when we celebrate our nation’s love of freedom. May you be safe and blessed and may your families prosper.

May we join together in prayer?

Dear Father in heaven, You are the One who leads us. You bless us with freedom. In fact, freedom was Your idea in the first place. Your Son even paid for it with His life. We thank YOU! Thank You for the gift of free will. Thank You for the freedom we enjoy in this country. We gratefully acknowledge that heroes went before us to secure the freedom we enjoy to day.

As we consider the sacrifice attached to freedom, we thank You for those currently serving on our nations behalf in order to preserve peace. We ask that You would faithfully bless them and their families. Preserve their families. Protect our troops today. Protect our first responders today. Please, O Lord. Grant them wisdom, courage, and strength for the tasks they face. Provide all the supplies, equipment, technology, and intelligence they need to make wise decisions and execute their responsibilities precisely. Give us wise leadership. Help us remember to turn to You, O Lord, for guidance. We seek Your wisdom now. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

“America, America, God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.” ~America The Beautiful, 3rd verse, Katherine Lee Bates 1859-1929, Samuel A Ward 1847-1903.

Coming Soon:

Next week, Anna regales us with a zillion ideas for creating backyard adventures in the natural sanctuary of the great outdoors. Okay, maybe not a zillion, but whole bunch! 

Plus, I soon welcome Janet McHenry, Yaziri “YO” Orrostieta, Mike Sahno, and Jeannette Hanscome, and Melissa Moore. Yep, this is shaping up to be an amazing season of interviewing some of my all time favorite heroic people! Plus, sharing it all with YOU!!!

We love to hear from you!

How are you passing on deeply spiritual truths to your kids and grandkids? What are some of your favorite ways to make history fun? Which songs and hymns touch your heart every time?

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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