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Talking to Kids About Veterans Day

How to help your young ones understand and appreciate military service

Veterans Day and other military holidays are a great time to instill pride in your children, but sending the wrong message could introduce some really tough concepts for kids to deal with—like the idea that Daddy or Mommy might die while they’re away for their “Guard job.” Since lying is never the right answer, here are a few ways to avoid misleading your young ones while still communicating the important stuff—like how awesome Mommy and Daddy are.

Avoid the D-word

Even if your children are old enough to comprehend the concept of death, they don’t need to associate it with your Guard service. Since Veterans Day is not intended to celebrate those who have given their lives (that’s Memorial Day), talk about the positive aspects of military service that America is celebrating, not the negatives.

Choose some military heroes 

Kids (and grown-ups, too) respond more positively to storytelling than speeches. Instead of telling your kids that they should celebrate those who serve their country, show them why they should. Pick a great story about an American hero (we’d suggest going through the list of Medal of Honor recipients) and inspire them.

Make your service real

Most children struggle with visualizing unfamiliar concepts. They need a relatable frame of reference for things to feel real. With this in mind, Veterans Day is a great excuse to bring your kids to the unit. It will enable them to visualize what you’re doing when you’re at your Guard job. Plus, no matter your MOS, all kids think Army stuff is cool. 

Tell them your story 

If you really want to instill an appreciation for serving the country, there’s no better example for your kids than you. Talk about why you joined the Guard and what kind of experiences you’ve had. And don’t wait for them to start the conversation—they won’t know to ask.