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How to develop more gratitude as a family for freedom, liberty

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We've been building an awareness of and love for our country and its precious freedom in our grandchildren by doing the following:

- Teaching that Heavenly Father planned for our Founding Fathers to make this country the cradle of liberty. God chose those men to lay the foundation of freedom.- Likening the scriptures to ourselves. We learn what Alma, Helaman and Ether wrote as a warning and a guide about government for our day.

- Using storybooks and songbooks that tell about our country's history. We instill a love for our country, its heroes and symbols.

- Visiting historical sites. This brings those times and people to life for the children.

Our grandchildren learn that freedom is one of God's most important gifts and that it is worth every effort to preserve and protect it, even with our lives, as was done by Book of Mormon heroes and brave men and women in these latter days. - Suzanne Wadlow, Hemet, Calif.


What we did:

Scriptural references

We can teach our families a respect and reverence for our country, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and for the men who were willing to sacrifice everything but their honor to give us this sacred legacy. We can read from the Doctrine and Covenants, sections 98, 101 and 134, to help our families understand the sacredness of these divinely inspired documents and our responsibility as citizens and members of the Church to uphold them.

We can read statements and talks by every prophet concerning the importance of the Constitution of the United States from the Prophet Joseph Smith (D&C 109:54) to our present-day prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley.

We can help our families understand how they can best befriend the Constitution and secure the blessings of liberty and ensure the protection and guidance of our Heavenly Father by rereading President Ezra Taft Benson's October 1987 opening conference talk, "Our Divine Constitution," wherein he states: "First and foremost, we must be righteous. . . . Second, we must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers. . . . Third, we must become involved in civic affairs to see that we are properly represented. . . . Fourth, we must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, our teaching, and our advice. - Margaret Townsend, Logan, Utah

Gratitude in prayer

As parents decide freedom is really important to them, they will develop a grateful heart through their own personal prayers that will overflow into family prayer. As children hear their parents' voices crack and tears fall as they pour out their gratitude for living in a free country - and asking Heavenly Father to bless the young men and women who put their lives on the line to protect their freedom - children will feel that love of country and for the freedom they enjoy. You can't teach that which you don't feel. When we as parents rise to our feet and put our hands over our heart and look to our national symbol with pride, our families will feel that and they will do likewise.

Being from Texas we have many stories of brave men who gave their lives for the cause of freedom. Sharing stories and visiting places like the Alamo give children and families a grateful feeling for those who gave so much. - Deanie Martino, Denton, Texas

Historical sites

We live in the Boston, Mass., area, so we often have the opportunity of seeing historical sites relating to our nation and reenactments of historical events.

As a family, we go to a reenactment every year of the start of the Revolutionary War and watch how those people were involved in fighting for the freedoms we enjoy now. We have ancestors who were involved in the war, so seeing the reenactment brings them alive for us.

We try to watch movies as a family about our nation's fight for freedom and other movies relating to other nations and the struggle for freedom. In addition, in our stake we have units of refugees from Cambodia and Laos. Our children associate with those children and we've had the young people in those units speak in stake conference and in our ward about their struggle for freedom.

There are a lot of people who have moved to America, and to see the effort they put forth to have freedom has helped us appreciate our freedom more. - Dottie LaPierre, Woburn, Mass.

Play patriotic music

In our family, we used to play patriotic music, particularly in July. My mother loved this music and it reminded me that it was great to have the freedom we enjoy.

Also, my mother used to tell me stories of when she worked at a store at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City during World War II. She told me about the soldiers who came in and how she got to know them. This made the history of that war come alive for me. She took me up there and showed me around and told me stories. I thought it was neat she would remember that and desire to share those memories with her children.

Today, my parents have a flag pole in their yard, and every day my father raises the flag. In the evening, if grandchildren are visiting, he has them help him take the flag down and teaches them the proper way to handle the flag. This teaches the children respect for our flag. - Julianne Petersen, Salt Lake City, Utah

Different view

Growing up in South Africa in the '70s and '80s gave our family a different view of freedom. We lived in a society where freedom was defined differently for different race groups, even though South Africa considered itself a free country, communism was a forbidden concept and we elected our own leaders. In the earlier years, I saw that people of certain races could not travel without permission to every area of the country like we could, they had to carry identification at all times, and did not have the freedom to choose schools or neighborhoods that they would like to live in or attend. (Things are very different in South Africa now, of course.)

My parents were very strict about teaching us to respect all people. I remember once speaking rather authoritatively to a man who worked for us, and my mom made me apologize to him for not speaking respectfully to my elders. I think that seeing these people in less than free conditions gave a lot of opportunity for us to think about their situation and it allowed the Spirit to work in us to teach us to know that freedom is everyone's right and to bring about necessary changes.

Now, with my own children, I talk to them about the freedoms we often take for granted. - Kirsty Matthews Kelly, Tucson, Ariz.


How to checklist:

1 Read talks from prophets, study scriptures that pertain to importance of freedom.

2 Teach a respect and reverence for our country.

3 Visit historical sites as a family; realize freedom is one of God's important gifts.

4 Give thanks for freedom in personal, family prayers.



July 11 "How to overcome compulsive eating."

July 18 "How to develop positive leadership qualities."

July 25 "How to teach young people sensitivity toward people with disabilities."

Aug. 1 "How to make transition from being newly married to becoming new parents."

Aug. 8 "How to help your wife feel more appreciated as a homemaker."

Aug. 15 "How to help your husband feel more appreciated as a provider."

Aug. 22 "How to protect your testimony."

- Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to avoid greed," "How to be more resilient in day-to-day life," "How to help heal a family after a loved one has caused deep hurt," "How to avoid the gambling trap."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: forum@desnews.com. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.