By Karen Whiting, Crosswalk.com
Children loves shows with heroes. Younger children view their parents as heroes. They want heroes, to know people around them care and work to keep them safe. Yet, we live in a society that often shows disrespect and anger toward people who are committed to serve us.
Let’s work at raising children to appreciate people in our communities who are true heroes, willing to risk danger to help us. Let’s help them find and celebrate these courageous individuals. Share stories, including Bible lessons, on real heroes. Start with their desire to find heroes and heroines.Photo Credit: Pexels/Brett Sayles
Appreciate Real Heroes and Heroines
Children watch and read stories with champions. They want to believe someone will protect them from bullies and harm. When talking about a favorite hero or heroine, stop and chat about real people who keep them safe. Praise firefighters, EMTS, and military personnel who help in the community and beyond. Find books that celebrate real heroes.
Notice men and women in uniform when you go places. Some cities hold special events to celebrate service workers and first responders. Some major sport teams have started honoring military and first responders at their events to honor military men and women bravely served. Try to attend a ceremony that honors someone who serves.
Understand Heroes Sacrifice to Keep us Safe
Talk about danger and how people serve even though they may get hurt or die. On September 11, 2001 terrorists targeted this country and killed thousands of people. Many people who serve us stood up and faced the danger as heroes. Firefighters quickly entered smoke and flame filled buildings, EMTS carried out victims and treated them, and military personnel assisted in keeping order and helping to catch the bad guys.
That day 414 real heroes who served as firefighters and law enforcement officers died in New York and 55 military personnel died at the pentagon. Marines risked their safety to carry children out of the building to save them. These people showed how much they cared about lives.
When you see someone serving, pray for them with your children and thank them for keeping you safe. Be aware that these individuals are always ready to act with courage.
Point Out How Sirens Signal Heroes at Work
When you hear a siren mention that a hero has been called into action. It might be a fire, an accident, danger, or someone who needs medical help. The drivers and workers are on the go to help. Say, “Hear that kids, a hero has been called to serve!”
Pause if you can and pray for the safety of everyone involved. Explain if you need to pull your car over if the emergency vehicle is behind you or coming into the intersection. They need to pass and get to the emergency fast, but safely. Behind the scene communication centers receive call to sound the alarm. Chat about how it takes lots of people to respond to emergencies. There’s a story being made as the siren starts, and heroes doing their jobs.
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Tune into Heroic Deeds
When the news shows a local hero helping someone and doing heroic deeds be sure to share the story with your children. They don’t need to see graphic news, but you can tell them what happened in simple words. If you have members of your family or friends who serve be sure to mention them and state that they are heroes because they are trained and always ready to save people.
My grandfather served as fire chief for many years. He founded my hometown’s fire department. We celebrated when he received awards and I recall friends telling me how the firefighters rescued them. The firefighters all served for free as volunteers. Once a year the town showed their appreciation by donating wonderful gifts for their children for Christmas and holding a party for the families. Check and see if you can honor some heroes in your community to show appreciation and respect.
Realize that Respect Begins at Home
Our words and actions communicate our thoughts. If we get a ticket for driving too fast, that is not a time to rant about police. It’s time to be humble and admit we broke a law. We should express gratitude that the police work to keep people in the roads safe and model respect.
I always turn off a show if people speak with disrespect about anyone, especially people who serve. I don’t listen to news announcers who call people names and put down others who serve. We are gatekeepers to protect our children from anger and disrespect.
Be sure to set the right example and speak with respect to everyone in your home and when on the phone. Children listen and notice how we interact. Be polite and disagree without yelling or name calling.
Understand Lifestyles of Community Workers
Chat about the lives of families in which someone as a rescue worker, peace officer, or serves in the military. Share the difficulties for the children in those families. A mom or dad might have to be gone for weeks or months. A phone call can interrupt a birthday party, dinner, or holiday fun and the dad or mom might need to leave to help people. If you have neighbors, friends, or family, who serve offer to host their children when needed or to be a helping hand when the spouse is away on call/duty.
The call to serve is bigger than the person who serves. It also means the family need to understand and support their mom or dad and their choice to serve. Talk about what it means to be called and to commit to serving others as part of making the community and world a better place.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Spencer Imbrock
Spot the Heroes
When you are out driving or shopping, see if your children can spot a community helper. Can they name some of the work the person might do and how they help us? For young children, let them dress up in costumes of these heroes and heroines. For older children, teach them first aid and basic rescue techniques. Be sure your children know when and how to call for help.
Fill an album or wall to honor heroes in your family. Put up photos or loved one in uniform and a description of what they do.
See if your children can interview a first responder and write about the person. They can ask questions about why they chose to serve, what dangers they have faced, and how they stay in shape for their work. Write it up and share it. You can even submit to your community paper or see if a local store will display it to show gratitude.
Appreciate Those Who Serve
September is First Responder and Military Appreciation Month. That’s a great time to show you value those individuals. Find out if someone in your neighborhood or church is a first responder of in the military. If so, make an appreciation kit to give those servants. Send a thank you card with a gift card to a local grocery store so they can buy snacks for the unit.
In your home, fill a dish with lifesavers to offer guests to enjoy and as a reminder to pray for the people who serve. Send Christmas cards and appreciation cards to those who serve. Writing a note helps children remember to thank people and be grateful.
Foster Service Attitudes and Hearts
Help you children follow the example of those who serve us. Help them think of ways to put other people first and to pray for people around them. Teach them compassion by being empathetic when they are hurt and show them how to stop bleeding and bandage cuts.
My oldest daughter accompanied her dad to help her brother when he had an accident and his thumb was bleeding. He dropped them off at the emergency room door of the military hospital and parked the car. She walked in holding her brother’s arm and spoke softly to him. The medic pointed said, “At last someone came in knowing how to care for a bleeding patient and she’s just a child.”
He asked her how she knew what do. She replied that she was told to press hard and hold her brother’s hand above his head. He applauded her for listening. It’s no surprise that she’s a disaster case worker. When we teach compassion, our children develop servant hearts.
Follow the Best Examples
Read scriptures related to serving others and respecting those who serve. Include Romans 13:1-7 and John 15:13. Read about healings in the Bible, Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (John 13), and how Jesus fed a huge crowd because he had compassion for their hunger (John 5).
Discuss ways you can serve one another and help neighbors and friends. Volunteer in your church and community. This might be making sandwiches for the homeless, donating clothes or food, and picking up litter. Any way you serve, you will help people or creatures God made.
Thankfulness and putting others first are choices people make. We encourage a servant attitude with stories of real people who serve others with love and kindness. We can inspire our children through our example and praising them when they help someone, when they help someone, show love, and display other attributes of real heroes.
Karen Whiting, widow of a Coast Guard Officer, grew up surrounded by family members who served. He newest of twenty-six books, 52 Weekly Devotions for Families Called to Serve, helps children develop servant hearts and shares stories of heroes and volunteers among us.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jay Heike