12/20/2011 10:53 am ET | Updated Feb 19, 2012

Use the End of the Iraq War! Teach an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Family

I do not want to argue about the war in Iraq. Was it necessary, was it useful, was it just or ethical? I believe it was, but that is not what's important this week.


Do you support the troops that risked, and sacrificed? Do you appreciate the families? These people, in the unpaid service of our country, risked and sacrificed and suffered. Many of them still do, as they watch their loved ones return with internal battles left to fight, or worse, not return at all.

Many of us parents did not talk about this war at the dinner table, unsure of how to answer the questions our children would certainly ask. Why are they fighting? When will it end? How many people are dying? Who are the bad guys? Are we safe from the bad guys?

Many parents didn't talk about the war for fear of scaring children, and some for fear of endorsing a war they didn't support.

There are hundreds of thousands of families who didn't have that luxury. These parents have had to talk about this war daily since 2003, because Mom or Dad or a sibling was in Iraq. Even if they didn't have any of the answers, even if they didn't support the war, they gave their most precious gift in its service.

Are you grateful? I am.

My twitter feed and blogroll are filled each day with parents wanting to teach their kids gratitude, especially in this holiday season. Here is our opportunity.

Teach your children to appreciate the families of our military service members.

It is incredibly likely (given the literal millions of active military in our country) that your child knows someone with a loved one in uniform. So, when you're thanking the mail carrier and the bus driver and teachers at school, pick one military family and have your child write a card or bake a cookie.

Acknowledge their sacrifice. Good will come of it.

Talk about the war they ended. Even if you don't feel it's been won (as one of last majors to leave Iraq said this weekend "Perhaps that remains to be seen"), these soldiers served, and so did their families. Talk about that.

Let's use this happy occasion to teach our children to use their empathy and their smiles and warm even more hearts than usual.