Every parent hopes for his or her child to be better than the proceeding generation — to be strong, confident, responsible and kind. So it stands to reason that raising a generation of responsible protectors goes far beyond teaching our kids how to shoot. We should be striving to develop a protective spirit in our kids in terms of their ability to ensure not only the physical safety of themselves and others but also the protection of our great American culture.
Five and a half years ago, my wife gave birth to our only child, a wonderful little boy. Since my wife was born completely blind, she has some limitations, which made developing early protective instincts in our son a priority for me. Many concepts of familial responsibility that are critical in the development of a child’s protective spirit have been lost in modern culture. And it all starts at home.
Raising Kids to Be Confident But Kind
Confidence does not often come naturally. We need to teach our kids to be confident! Confidence does not equal cockiness but rather encourages growth. When children have the confidence to try new things, they progress in several facets of life. Kids need to have the confidence to stand up for what they believe in.
We can teach our kids confidence by letting them stand alone when trying new activities. That can be hard, but parents should teach kids that it is OK to fail, as long as they try again. Standing back and watching our son take swimming lessons last year was rough for me. But I knew that if I didn’t, he would never feel confident in his own ability to swim.
Unfortunately, arrogance and selfishness can be the product of unfettered confidence. These traits can best be reined in by instilling kindness in your children. Kindness must be taught by example. Teaching children kindness toward animals (even stuffed animals at a very early age) is a good starting point. When adults show compassion to the elderly, younger children, military veterans or those who are less fortunate, kids will follow suit.
Raising Kids to Be Strong and Responsible
I am appalled by the shortage of parents who are willing to lead children toward responsible adulthood. The number of 16-year-olds who aren’t interested in learning to drive a car (something which boys and girls of my generation couldn’t wait to do) astounds me. A relative of mine recently turned 18 and has made no move toward earning her driver’s license. Instead, she burdens her mother and grandparents, who have to take her to work and school activities.
Children need to be taught responsibility, starting with small things they can handle when they’re very young. My wife has had our son pick up his own room and help with the cleaning, laundry sorting and even cooking since he was 3. As he grows, he will be given more responsibility and trust. Responsibility breeds confidence, which becomes strength — the strength to be responsible for yourself and others.
The process of helping my son develop into a protector is long-term and won’t end until he is capable. In addition to what he learns at home, we plan to enroll him in a traditional martial arts program to teach discipline, focus, confidence, defensive skills and restraint.
These qualities — strength, responsibility, confidence and kindness — should be more than words in your household. Reinforce these in your children and teach them the importance of standing up for them. Raising the next generation of protectors doesn’t come easily or without effort. I hope we are all up to the task.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.
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