Two of the character qualities that define our military service members are Service and Sacrifice. These character qualities are important for everyone, and as Captain Dad leading your little troops, you need to help your children understand why service and sacrifice are important and model how to practice those qualities. Of course, this doesn’t have to involve putting your life on the line in a field of combat – service and sacrifice should be practiced in the simple things of every day life.

Service Military members devote their careers to serving the country, but you don’t have to be on call ready to report for duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve your community and others around you.

Serve your community: Make it a family habit to do one service activity a month or every other month. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, clean up a local park, participate in a 5K run/walk to support a local charitable cause. Check out to search for volunteer opportunities in your local area for issues you are interested in. Volunteering as a family will not only build great memories for your children, but help them value the importance of giving back to their community.

Serve others: Talk to your children about noticing other people’s needs and taking time to serve them by meeting those needs, without expecting anything in return. Then put that into practice. Your family can make a meal for a family in the neighborhood with a new baby. Maybe your child can take care of his brother or sister’s chores on a day when his sibling has a lot of homework to do, or tidy up the house when you or Mom has had a stressful day at work.

Men and women serving in the military regularly sacrifice many of the comforts we take for granted, especially when they are deployed overseas. Sacrifice is an important principle for everyone to practice because it teaches other important character qualities like selflessness, patience, generosity, and gratitude.

Understand Sacrifice: Talk to your kids about what sacrifice means: giving up something you value for the sake of a more important ideal, belief, or goal. Ask them what ideals, beliefs, and goals they think are worth sacrificing for, and what they’d be willing to give up for those things. Read about famous or historical people who have sacrificed for something valuable.

Practice Sacrifice: Help your children practice selfless sacrifice by encouraging them to pick out some of their favorite toys to donate to less fortunate children, perhaps at a homeless shelter. Encourage them to save a portion of their allowance to donate to charity. Sacrifice time by serving in the community.

Value Sacrifice: Do your kids know that you would support them if they chose a career path of serving in the military, the police, emergency care, or other community service occupations? Many children won’t consider certain career paths if it’s not something their parents would support. Take opportunities to express support for the people who serve your community in those capacities to help your children value the important contribution they make to society by their sacrifice.