Raising Good Citizens

By John Rosemond

Many parents hope their kids will learn to be good citizens when they go to school; others believe that signing them up for a Scouts program will do the trick. What many parents don’t realize is that good character is learned in the home. The “3 Rs” of good citizenship– Respect, Responsibility, and Resourcefulness– are the bedrock of good character. A solid moral and ethical foundation supports the development of compassion, integrity, commitment, selflessness, and all of the other attributes that constitute the “good neighbor.”

Teaching Respect: Respect for others is the linchpin of good citizenship. Instilling a respectful attitude in a child requires that discipline, when necessary, be delivered resolutely, yet calmly; that the child’s point of view be taken into account when making family decisions; and that parents’ actions be consistent with their words. These actions simply provide what has been called a child’s first right, good government.

Teaching Responsibility: A community cannot thrive without citizens who are willing to ask, paraphrasing President John F. Kennedy, not what the community can do for them, but what they can do for the community Children acquire this sense of social responsibility if they are not overindulged and if they are consistently expected to contribute to their families. Overindulged children never really learn that it’s better to give than to receive. Children who aren’t expected to perform daily chores are in danger of believing it’s possible to get something for nothing. Unfortunately, children who don’t do chores are usually also overindulged, and vice versa. This combination is devastating to a child’s healthy character development.

When it comes to giving to children, parents should be conservative. Hearing the word “no” on a regular basis helps children learn to postpone gratification, tolerate frustration, and set long-term goals, all necessary attributes of good citizenship.

By age four, a child should be performing household chores on a daily basis. As the child grows, those responsibilities should increase so that by the early teen years the child is capable of carrying out just about any task. The more productive a child is within the family, the more productive a citizen the child will become.

Teaching Resourcefulness: This third “R” of good citizenship involves learning to tough it out when it comes to challenge. It was this frontier spirit that made America great, and it is just as important today as 100 years ago.

Parents can help children develop an “I can!” attitude by setting reasonably high goals and then providing the support and encouragement needed to reach those goals. A second aspect of resourcefulness is imagination. The more opportunities a child has for creative play, the stronger the child’s imagination becomes. Parents need to provide plenty of opportunities for free play, and also see to it that the benefits are not canceled out by an excess of television watching, which is an inert and passive activity and does not encourage creativity.

Remember, children don’t learn good citizenship skills from baby-sitters, electronic or otherwise, but from their parents.

My Lucky Day

Garland Chapman, principal of Robert E. Lee High School in Midland, Texas, relates an experience during his days as a grade school principal. A little second grade boy started out in the morning by falling from the bus and hitting his head on the concrete. It required three stitches to close the gash. Recess proved a little unfortunate as he and another boy ran together. The result: two of the boy’s teeth were loosened, and a lip was bruised. During the afternoon he fell and hurt his arm. Mr. Chapman decided to get the boy home before anything else could happen. They were riding towards the boy’s home when the principal noticed the little guy clutching something in his hand.

“What do you have?” Mr. Chapman asked.

“A quarter. I found it on the playground today,” exclaimed the little fellow. He smiled and with an excited voice exclaimed, “You know, Mr. Chapman. I’ve never found a quarter before. This is my lucky day!”

So much is dependent, not on how the day looks at us, but how we look at the day. Some people miss seeing the roses behind a broken fence. Every day has its problems, but faith can turn them into blessings. It depends on how you look at it.

A Sermon Never Forgotten

Throughout the years I have heard many wonderful sermons which I have forgotten, but one sermon have I seen and it has remained in my heart until this day. It happened on a Sunday morning when I was on my way to one of the two small congregations in Munich, Germany, on a cold, rainy day in November. After I got out of bed, I looked through the window which was covered with ice ferns. New deep snow had fallen during the night covering the streets of the city. I tried to decide whether I should go to worship or stay home and read my Bible.

I realized the congregation would miss me, for I was the only song leader they had. On the other hand I would have to walk a half block to catch the bus to the building. Finally I decided to go but only because I must lead the singing. While I was riding the bus, I noticed two people trying hard to make their path through the snow. I recognized the people and knew where they were going. They were Brother and Sister Trollman, a faithful couple who attended every service. Brother Trollman was a man in his eighties who had lost his eyesight. His only guide was his seventy-eight year old wife who was lame in one foot. They lived in a little two room apartment, and received a little support from the government. Because they could not afford to ride the bus to the services three miles away, they walked the distance every Lord’s Day.

Here I was sitting in a warm bus, unwilling to go to worship, forced by my duty as a song leader, and there, outside in the cold weather, were two old people driven to worship by their love for the Lord. I was not able to do anything but blush, ashamed of myself and the weak faith and love I had proved to my Lord. I felt like an evildoer in court being judged by his own conscience. This old couple without their knowledge and without ae word had taught me a greater lesson than could ever be said with words in a sermon. (An American GI; Quoted in Jack Ray, “The Power Of An Example,” The Lehman Avenue Weekly Communicator, Feb. 4, 1987)

A Renewed Life

Do you feel that your spiritual life is lacking in depth and dedication? Are you displeased with your rate of spiritual development? Any Christian who so desires may experience a… spiritual rebirth. The important question is how? Where do I start? Here are some suggestions:

1. Get thoroughly dissatisfied with yourself. spiritual progress cannot be made until a need for improvement is seen.

2. Carefully determine the areas in your life where you need to make changes and begin now to make them.

3. Do a thorough job of repenting. Let godly sorrow do its healing work. Where sin has been of a public nature, let a public confession be made.

4. Make a definite place in your life for daily worship. Do not neglect prayer and Bible study for any cause. Never be too tired or too busy to spend some time alone with God.

5. Deliberately narrow your interests. You must decide what is most important to this renewed life and invest your time accordingly. There are many activities and projects which use up time and energy but bring you no nearer to God.

6. Begin immediately some definite labor for Christ. Be sure that time is devoted each week to the Lord’s work.

7. Trust the Lord. Begin to expect a resurgence of spiritual joy. (James LeFan)