A Day to Speak of Heroes

May 30, 2010
Tomorrow we mark a day that honors those who died in the service of their country.

What character traits have these heroes shown?

Love of country
Love for others

That's not to say that all veterans are angels, but the character traits required for service to one's country can't help but inspire admiration.

What a perfect opportunity to ask your child: What does it take to be a hero?

Too often today, heroes are defined not by the list above but by looks, entertainment value, the coolness factor, and wealth.

Brad Meltzer, author of Heroes for My Son, says, “The one thing you need, in my mind, to be a hero is you have to help someone," His book, inspired by the birth of his first son, includes short stories from the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Mr. Rogers and Jackie Robinson, among 48 others. Many are heroes whose names you recognize, but a number are not. Some are people who made mistakes but learned from them.

Elisa Medhus, the author of Raising Everyday Heroes: Parenting Children to be Self-Reliant sees the value of learning from one’s mistakes. She writes, “There is an increasingly common tendency for adults to rescue children from adversity: from want, from irresponsibility, from personal responsibility, from boredom, from self-assessment, from frustration, from challenges, from problem solving, and from the consequences of their poor choices.”

“The dangerous – and unintended – consequence of this parenting style is that children who are rescued from every conflict fail to develop the tools they need to rescue themselves.”

How will our children serve as heroes for others if they can’t even take care of themselves?

Many of today’s children look through the eyes of their peers to find their identity or form their self-worth. They grow up, wandering through life without an inner compass and without the skills to rescue themselves or others.

What can a mom do?

Medhus suggests that we first redefine heroism. Our children should know that a hero is one who does the right thing in spite of the consequences, is willing to brave ridicule, rejection, criticism. A true hero accepts the sacrifices that moral choices may demand.

And Medhus’s second recommendation is that we must acknowledge that the inner hero – the potential for greatness – lies in all children. We can foster their imagination, creativity, their belief that anything is possible. We can equip them with the skills to take off without us one day and to succeed.

You’ve heard it before, but the truth rings through:

There are two things we should give our children: one is roots, and the other is wings.

Re-tell those stories of heroes – real ones, family ones, ones from literature and the Bible. Teach them to say “thank you” to those who have served their country. Let them know that heroes are real people, and they’re often flawed. But who isn’t? Heroes, in spite of their flaws, reach outside themselves and show selflessness, courage, faithfulness, among other things.

How do you celebrate your child’s inner hero?
How do you give him roots and still provide wings?


Susan DiMickele said...

I love this post. (And I do think great minds think alike.) I can't wait to read your book to get the real scoop, but I've been meaning to ask you -- as an English teacher and follower of Christ -- to recommend some good summer reading for my 9-year-old BOY who is crazy about reading. He really needs to read about some true heroes!

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Do you have Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt? She has great recommendations, grouped by age.

It's a good place to start...but I have more ideas! I'll email you!

Karen said...

Ah, Laura, roots and wings-I love that one.

Victoria said...

I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day!
This post is a wonderful one, and something I think about often.

Faith said...

Great post, Laura!!
We try to teach our children that heroes are not just the famous people they read about in the media or in history books but...people like the 2 missionary families we help to support, their teachers, their youth group leaders for going out of their way to share the deep things of the Lord, AND have fun in social events, AND pray for them....etc. etc.
Roots and wings.....hopefully my daughters know at ages 16 and 11 that their roots are firmly planted here at home yet we give them freedom to "explore" with peers, extracurricular activities, etc. and that eventually they will fly out of the nest and be comfortable doing so. And my husband and I both believe in NOT rescuing our children from small problems that they can problem-solve for themselves.....
Hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!!

Bina said...

Wonderful post!

It can be so daunting...trying to spread the wings of our kids while trying to keep them grounded enough to know their limitations. I find that I lean towards praise of each accomplishment (the "just between you and me" kind, as with 5 it can easily become "yeah, well, did you see what I did when they did what they did?" and so on...) and I work hard to engage them in conversation that is God-focused...reminding them that as proud as their MOM is, imagine how much more so their Creator is.

Thanks for this...needed it tonight :)


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