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My phone buzzed with a local news alert this past Tuesday evening, just as I was putting our youngest boys to bed. It was nearly 9 p.m.

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Protesters had managed to close the northbound lanes of I-25, a major thoroughfare that runs through Colorado Springs. The ruckus was centered near downtown and consisted of about a dozen cars filled with young people blocking the busy corridor.

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“We will shut it down until we get justice, no matter what that means,” one of the individuals told a local television reporter.

Looking at Will and Alex settling in for a quiet and restful night’s sleep, it occurred to me that every single one of the people who were blocking the interstate that night was somebody’s child – and not that long ago had been the age of our boys.

How do you go so quickly from being a carefree kid to a rabble-rouser who willfully breaks the law, whether by tearing down a statue, throwing paint on a monument or blocking a major public roadway?

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What can a parent do to raise kids who grow up to be responsible adults who build things up rather than become people who tear them down?

What can a parent do to raise kids who grow up to be responsible adults who build things up rather than become people who tear them down?

I think a good place to start is by doing what my wife and I (along with countless other parents) are trying to do – we’re attempting to teach our boys a whole host of things about our great, but imperfect country:

1. American exceptionalism is real. This doesn’t mean we’re somehow better than everyone else. Instead, it means that our nation stands apart from others because our country was founded upon a unique set of ideals.

Our founders flipped the typical formula – the government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around. The individual is superior while the bureaucracy is inferior.

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2. Our nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian ideals. On this Independence Day weekend, it’s important to remember America has been blessed because at the country’s inception, our founding fathers were welcoming to God.

This doesn’t mean that everyone who helped launch the United States were devout, orthodox people of faith. Many of them were, but some were not. Yet, none of them were hostile to religion. In fact, they warmly welcomed it because they knew properly channeled religious belief serves an enormous cultural good.

3. The Constitution is a treasured jewel – not a toy to be leveraged to suit modern whim. Its author, James Madison, was diminutive in size with a weak speaking voice – and yet he presided over the creation of one of the most remarkable documents ever written. In his genius, he and his colleagues figured out how to write a document that centralized power yet provided enough room for 50 separate states to independently govern themselves.

But the Constitution is constantly under assault, chipped away by lawyers and judges who feel it should be malleable to meet modern mores.

Good people can disagree on how it should be interpreted, but as for me, I agree with a man named Henry Esterbrook who once declared, “I would fight for every line in the Constitution as I would fight for every star in the flag.”

4. America is a tremendous land of opportunity – but it will only last if we raise children to become strong and responsible adults to take our place.

Research suggests today’s young adults are “better educated than those of the greatest generation. But to what end? My grandfather on my mother’s side never went to college – but he fought and helped win the peace in World War I. He came back home and became a bookkeeper, got married and raised three beautiful daughters. Success.

My dad’s father was an artist at heart, but had to make a living to support a wife and 5 children. He became a commercial painter, working in Manhattan’s tallest buildings. “I’d start at the bottom and work my way to the top floor,” he said. “By the time I reached the roof, it was time to start all over again.” He sacrificed his dreams in order to help his children reach theirs.

5. Yes, our country has its flaws, but America is a miracle. Wise people don’t burn things down – they tend to them by shoring up the foundations, stabilizing and then strengthening the structure.

My friends and colleagues, Tim Goeglein and Craig Osten, recently published a wonderful book, “American Restoration: How Faith, Family and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation.” Their solutions to our current turmoil are profound yet stunningly simple.

“The local solutions [are] in our families, communities, marriages, parenting, churches, synagogues, neighborhoods, civil society,” they write. “It’s from the bottom up, not from the top down.”

Our Founding Fathers would wholeheartedly agree.

Paul J. Batura is a writer and the author of seven books, including, “GOOD DAY! The Paul Harvey Story.” He can be reached on Twitter @PaulBatura or by email at [email protected].

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