Hello Brothers and Sisters. For those who do not know me (which is just about every one of you) I am Jaclyn Mitchell. We moved into the ward 2 weeks ago. My husband Kevin and I have been married for 14 years and have known each other for 20 years. We have 5 beautiful children. Kaitlyn just turned 10, Brittany is about to turn 9 next month, Matthias turned 8 this past January, Our Angel baby Adam would have been 8 last month, but, being too perfect for this World, returned to be with our Father in Heaven last summer, and our baby Alyssa turned 6 last month. I will save myself some time later in the hallway from those who were listening..... How is it possible to have 3 8 year olds at the same time. Our 2 boys were adopted from Bulgaria, and we brought them home when they were 6 years old. Our son Matthias is deaf, although he has cochlear implants, he does not speak, understand speech or sign. He does not walk on his own and he is dependant on us for all his day to day needs. As was our sweet Adam.
Well, moving right along..... Brother Batemen stopped by our home on Friday evening. He asked me to speak on how we teach our children the principles of Liberty and Patriotism in the home. I agreed then later questioned my ability to do this topic justice. Afterall, what is Patriotism? Webster says it is "Love for or devotion to one's Country". Ok.... so what is Liberty? Wester says it is the state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely: the power to do or choose what you want to: a political right.
Ok so basically what I gather from this is that we need to be teaching our children in the home to be thankful that we live in a land where we have the legal right to utilize our God given gift of free agency, and to honor that land, but how do we teach this?
I ran across a talk on LDS.org from 1976. Called Declaration of Dependence: Teaching patriotism in the home by Robert K. Thomas and Shirley Wilkes Thomas.
They say " The heart of , however, lies in attitudes that are rooted in family relationships, for the family unit, in microcosm, undergoes most of the stresses which test the larger societies that make up a nation. The qualities that distinguish are all of the “homely” variety: respect, integrity, loyalty, self-sacrifice, consideration, fairness, appreciation, and devotion. "
If we are teaching our children these "basic" atributes at home then they will naturally apply them in society. When tested outside of the home, they will fall back on what they have always done.
I happen to have a child who is on the autism spectrum. She is very intelligent and high functioning, but she does not see anything in grey. It is either black or white. We recently had several friends who made promises they did not keep, who said they would do things then didn't follow through or other such things that we, as humans, do. This has lead her to question the things that I have taught her. Regardless of what our friends, or society as a whole may be doing, it is our job to be the best we can be both within our home and in honoring our Country. I have lovingly explained to my daughter that "In this house, we will continue to be honest, loyal, keep our promises, say only what we mean (without being mean of course) and be the best "Citizens" we can be. While this may be confusing to my children, I refuse to "slack off" when it comes to teaching "homely values".
While we live in "Perilous times" as Boyd K Paker called them back in 2008, where many of our freedoms are being "tested", we must continue to stand by what we believe and teach our children these beliefs. As Boyd K Paker discussed the saints reaction to finally being free from persecution he replays the following events from history "Now on this 24th of July in 1849, free at last from the mobbings, they planned to celebrate. 8
The Lord told them, “I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose.” “… As we have inherited the spirit of liberty and the fire of patriotism from our fathers, so let them descend [unchanged] to our posterity.”11 ” Elder Phineas Richards
I love how the word "unchanged" is highlighted in this quote. Although things around us are changing, our love for our Country, Our desire to continue to fight for our freedoms, Our appreciation for our freedoms is something we shall continue to teach our chilren to appreciate. Having been born into the United States, many of us take these things for Granted.
I remember at one point during our adoption process we were filling our paperwork which said to state our religion. I didn't even think twice before writing LDS. Sadly, within seconds, my paper was returned and I was told to "re-think" that answer. I was advised that since we were adopting from a foreign Country without as many freedoms it might be wise to be "less specific". I altered the form to say simply "Christian". I later questioned "what could they do anyways?" It was explained to me that many times paperwork for LDS people came up missing. Their adoptions were denied or other similar things. Other Countries are not blessed with the same freedoms we are. My children have learned a lot about appreciation for what we have after having witnessed what little kids from other Countries truly have. The Thomas' mention in their 1976 talk that "the child who equates freedom with indulgence may never understand the consideration for others that is fundamental to a workable democracy"
My children watched as their brothers came home tiny and barely even knowing how to eat. Not knowing how to play with toys because they never had any. Not knowing how to walk, talk or communicate because their "rights" were taken from them because they were different. I think it was at that point that my children learned to love and respect this Country in a whole new way. It is imperative that we teach our not only to appreciate freedom, but not to take it for granted. To continue to fight for it and to honor those that fight on our behalf. As parents, as saints, as citizens it is our duty to teach patriotism and liberty to our children, our friends, our fellow citizens. It is a commandment of God.
I want to talk a second to thankmy father, Gordon, who served 20 years serving our Country, fighting for our freedom and instilling in me Love and Respect for My Country.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.