Sunday, May 27, 2018

How to Teach Kids About Memorial Day

One of the primary definitions of good mental health is what the professionals call “affect tolerance”, simply, the ability to experience a range of emotion without being compromised. The ability to feel a wide range of emotions also ensures that we will feel emotions well. If I’ve never been sad how happy could I possibly feel?

As most adults know we seldom experience only one emotion at a time, rather we often experience a number of emotions at one time. And what most adults also know is that one definition of maturity (as told to me by Rabbi Noach Orlowek) is recognizing that the emotion I feel now is not the one I will feel for the rest of my life.

Memorial Day is a great example of a day that ideally should contain multiple emotions and it is a wonderful opportunity to both teach our children the value of experiencing multiple emotions and at the same time teach them about the value of the human lives that have been lost in the service of the United States of America.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army
Since I was a child I cried at the National Anthem. For my grandfather too this nation’s song was a trigger for tears. When I hear the Anthem I think about how fortunate I am that my ancestors came to this country and worked their fingers to the bone to make a life and that every day my children and I benefit from that hard work. And then when the words “and the rockets’ red glare” come forth I think about all of those men and women who, throughout the generations, gave their lives for the ideals of our country which I and my children benefit from every day.

On this Memorial Day my family is going for a hike, maybe we’ll go watch airplanes at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, and we’ll have a BBQ with my wife’s delicious hamburgers. We are also going to stand in silence for one minute at 3:00pm and we are going to visit the military section of our local cemetery. While there we will talk about the fact that the United States is the Land of the Free because of the Brave. 
My kids might see their sentimental father cry a bit and while it’s not the most comfortable experience for me it is important because they will see a model of someone who can experience different emotions even at the same time in a healthy way.

I urge you to take this opportunity to both model good mental health for your children and also teach them what Memorial Day is really about.

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Here are some Memorial Day activities you can do with your kids:

An interesting video for kids about Memorial Day

Stories and info for kids about Memorial Day

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