As a mom of ten kids I’ve discovered that often the best things we can teach our kids aren’t about things they can see, but they’re about the unseen things. Things like justice, equality, friendship and faith.
In our world they often see prejudices and injustice. Usually kids know this isn’t right, but they don’t know how to change things. The good news is the best way for kids to make changes is for them to start with their own hearts.
January 16 we take time to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., but the lessons he taught us are ones we can teach our kids any time of the year.
Here are three lessons we can teach kids inspired by Dr. King.
“The time is always right to do what is right,”
said Dr. King. There are a lot of people who mistreat others because of their skin color or ethnic background, yet today is the day we can do what is right. Doing what is right may mean standing up for a classmate, neighbor, or friend who’s being picked on. It might be creating toiletry bags to carry in your family car for homeless people. Doing what is right can change on a daily basis. We can pray each day and ask Jesus to show us how to act right in even hard situations.
Take a first step.
The best way to have friends from all backgrounds is to be friendly to everyone and to take first steps in getting to know others who are different than us. It’s having faith that if we treat others well they’ll do the same to us. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” says Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The first step can start simple. It just starts with introducing yourself and offering a smile.
Read about people who care.
Often the best way for our kids to learn how to care for others is to read about people who have done it well. Our family loves to read missionary stories and stories about people who serve others. One book we read recently and loved was Same Kind of Different as Me for Kids by Denver Moore and Ron Hall (available for pre-order). The book shares about Denver’s life growing up as a son of a share cropper. Without the opportunity of an education, Denver grew up feeling trapped, and he left his home and jumped a train, ending up homeless in Fort Worth. My children listened intently as I read Denver’s story and shared about how a woman named Miss Debbie befriended him, which changed his life forever. It opened up some great conversations, and my kids learned how everything can change when someone cares.
As we consider Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we can teach our kids about all the things he cared most about. These three steps are great places to start, but we don’t have to stop there. We all can continue to honor him by living and loving with the same heart of service to all people.
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Do you and your family spend time to intentionally celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. day? What are other ways you can carve out the time to celebrate & think deeply about issues of justice, equality, friendship and faith? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!