For a lot of families with young ones I know that Anzac Day will mainly consist of munching down on Anzac biscuits and having a nice relaxing time together (which is still great!), but my husband and I have always wanted our kids to know the true meaning behind the day and these are the reasons why.
War is a part of our history
My husband is a bit of a war buff and often watches documentaries about World War I and II. So when my eldest son started showing an interest in history as a preschooler we decided to let him (and subsequently his younger brothers) learn about these wars and the role our soldiers and Australia played in them. We bought him children’s books which explain the World Wars in simple terms, and let him watch some parts of the documentaries with us while explaining what’s happening.
Once he reached the age of five we decided he was old enough to attend a dawn service. It was an opportunity for him to meet those who have served in the army and to see how others show their respect and gratitude towards our country’s soldiers. Whenever one of my boys starts to play with a toy soldier, my husband will use it as a chance to remind them how lucky we are that we don’t live in a war zone.
Their ancestors were soldiers
My grandfather was in World War I and my husband’s grandfather in World War II, and while both were actually British and neither of them are alive anymore, we use details about their experiences at war to help our children relate to these major historic events. As a result, when Anzac Day rolls around our boys feel more of a connection to what is being celebrated and remembered. We talk about how brave their great grandfathers were. Just like how we talk about other relatives in the family who might have lived in different countries or done interesting things, we think it’s important that our kids know and understand our family history.
Death is not a taboo topic
My father passed away before my children were born and they recently lost one of their grandmothers, so death is a topic that has been discussed in our house since my boys were very young. I know it can seem like a scary topic for a lot of parents, however, I believe that by openly discussing death it helps them prepare for and process grief in a healthy way. It’s a natural, inevitable part of life after all, and as long as it’s explained gently, with reassurance that they are safe and their loved ones should be here for a long time to come, then it doesn’t become an issue. When it comes to talking about Anzac Day, the fact that soldiers died at war is something we don’t shy away from either, using it as a chance to discuss bravery, sacrifice, patriotism and the sadness faced by all those who lost so many loved ones.
Read more on holiday celebrations:
- 8 ways to holiday with your little ones this Easter (minus the stress)
- How Australia Day really plays out when you’re a mum
- 7 ways to celebrate your child’s birthday when it falls on a holiday
Appreciation for our lifestyle
Anzac Day offers parents a wonderful opportunity to teach young children appreciation for the country they live in and the privileged life they lead. My boys are easily excited by talk of war, they love imagining the big tanks and guns, however, we always bring them back to the reality of war and the tragic toll it takes on all nations. I think this generation is in serious danger of being so spoiled by the comforts of modern society, that they will develop a warped view of how wonderful their lives really are. By educating our boys on the loss and cost of war, both in the past and in war-torn countries overseas, my husband and I hope to create more empathetic, appreciative and insightful human beings.
We owe it to them
I’m so thankful we made it a priority to share the meaning behind Anzac Day with our boys early on, because I think we owe it to our kids and our country’s ancestors to share with them the reason they live in a safe and peaceful country. Don’t you?
How do you teach your children about Anzac Day? Share your stories on our Facebook page.