I Have a Dream--Part One

4:32 PMHeather

Traditions are big to me. I like how they give a sense of connectedness and identity for our family. We have traditions galore--even for Martin Luther King Junior day. Chris and I both deeply admire MLK, and want our kids to appreciate who he was and what he worked so hard to achieve. So, every MLK day, we watch his "I Have a Dream" speech with our children.

We have been deliberate to talk about the way things were and what MLK was all about--because we want our children to appreciate how far we've come. Understanding the mistakes of our past will help us avoid making them again. Martin Luther King Junior died the year my sister was born. In that short span of time, much has changed. No, we aren't perfect yet, and yes, we have far to go. But, I love that my children find segregation unimaginable, and in their own words, "That's just stupid! Why would anyone ever make some people use a different water fountain?"

I grew up as an Army brat on Army bases with people of all races and nationalities. More importantly, I grew up in a family where my parents truly did teach me that a person's character was important--not their skin color. I'm not saying that I have it all together. I am saying that I was raised with an appreciation for all people and an intolerance for bigotry.

The values that we teach our children are integrally tied to our history. My children have two uncles, two grandfathers, and two great-grandfathers who served in our military. These men served in World War II, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, and in search and recovery at the Pentagon after 9/11. I don't want to shy away from these topics--as hard as they might be. My children have much to gain by understanding who these people are--even those they have never met. I love to help my kids know my dad by telling them funny stories about him, or things I admired about him. I feel that my kids need to know about great men and women of history--both in our family history and in our country's history. We can shape our children's world view beginning at home, in small ways, through shared history and conversation.

INTENTIONAL challenge: I'd venture to guess that you have family members that your children never met who can still serve as inspiring examples. What personal stories can you seek to share? On a larger scale, what people in history do you admire? Have you explained their significance to our country and our world to your children? Today, what is one way that you can help your children appreciate the heritage they've been given through your family, through our country's history, and in our world?

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