How I’m preparing my children for World War III

No one wants to see their child go off to war. But as a former intelligence officer and mother of two young sons, I’ve given a lot of thought to, well, the topic of war.

I’ve considered the possibility that, if a global conflict broke out, my sons may find themselves suddenly called upon to defend the nation. So, if World War III does occur, here are five ways that I plan to prepare my sons.

1. Remembering my duty as a mother

The first way that I am preparing for the possibility of World War III in my children’s lifetime is by reminding myself that my duty as a mother is actually not to keep my children out of harm’s way.

That’s right — it’s not actually a mother’s job to keep her children from harm. Rather, it’s a mother’s job to ensure that her children know how to properly confront danger.

This is a lesson that I wrestled with quite a bit while experiencing some of the ugliness of war in my previous job, and comprehending the full gravity of a parent’s responsibility actually provided a great deal of spiritual peace and clarity: Not only is it impossible for parents to rid the world of dangers and horrors such as war, but it is not what we are meant to do.

What is within our power, and what we should do, is raise our children to have the fortitude to weather even the most terrible storms. And that’s a remarkable, albeit frightening, duty and privilege that I have as a mother.

Practically speaking, this means that I am constantly reorienting my attitude as a parent; rather than thinking, how can I make sure my children never come across/experience/have to worry about X, I try instead to think, how can I raise my children to know best how to deal with/change/confront X.

2. Teaching timeless values

Second, I will teach my children to hold firm to their values despite what others think. They should know that public opinion about a conflict can and will change. If they resolve to answer their nation’s call and go to war, they need to understand that not all people will deem them heroes.

As such, their resolve, their sense of duty to their nation, and their moral compass must always be stronger than public opinion (indeed, if their conviction to act can be swayed by public opinion, they need to carefully re-evaluate their conviction). The U.S. saga in Vietnam is a good way to illustrate this.

3. Studying history

This brings me to my third point: I’ll be teaching my children not only to be students of the Vietnam War but of the entire history of war. A knowledge of how and why people historically have taken up arms not only familiarizes children with common military tactics and strategies, but, more importantly, it tells a lot about humanity itself. Humanity’s history of violent conflict may offer the best (if not the most sordid) illustrations of both the darkest and the noblest aspects of human nature.

Because my children could see conflict in the Pacific theatre involving China, I want them to study Chinese history, especially Mao Zedong’s Marxist theories and how his policies left millions dead. I want them to understand the tyranny that the Chinese people have lived through in China’s recent past so that they have both a sense of compassion for Chinese civilians and an understanding of the brutality of the Chinese Communist regime and its disregard for human dignity, which may help prepare them for any atrocities they may encounter.

4. Learning from everyday heroes as well as renowned ones

I will ensure that my children study warriors and heroes, both fictional and historical. They will know the stories of figures like King David, Achilles, Spartacus, Sun Tzu, George Washington, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Harriet Tubman (not many people know that she was a Union spy and scout!), the Tuskegee Airmen, and Winston Churchill, just to name a few that jump to mind.

Familiarizing youth with warriors and heroes should not, however, be limited to heroes of great renown, so I’ll also encourage my children to seek out and learn from the more “everyday” war heroes, such as the elderly stranger with the “Vietnam veteran” cap with whom my child may strike up a conversation when they meet one another by happenstance.


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Though by no means without their faults, these warriors and heroes—including those unrecognized or unappreciated ones around us—impress upon children the beauty of noble actions, especially in a divisive, politically charged time.

5. Raising children of faith

Finally, and most importantly, I plan to emphasise to my children that the Christian faith that my husband and I strive to pass on to them holds everything they need to face the greatest challenges in life, including death. It’s significant that in the following famous passage from his letter to the Ephesians, Paul used armour and battle imagery to illustrate the Christian’s need to be prepared:

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Paul knew that the Christian life is not an easy one. It will call for, as we say so often in defence and intelligence circles, “resilience”.

According to Paul, this spiritual and mental strength — or resilience — comes through aligning oneself with truth, living righteously, spreading the gospel’s peace wherever possible, and living by faith, emboldened by trust in our salvation.

Although modern firepower is quite horrific, the spiritual forces of evil are actually a more insidious foe. If our faith gives us what we need to stand against even the invisible “rulers and authorities” of the spiritual realm, then we certainly have the mental and spiritual resiliency to stand against adversarial human forces in an earthly conflict. The Gospel of Matthew tells us, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”

Just as teaching children when and how to confront danger is actually good parenting, so, too, confronting the inevitability of death is an integral part of a life well lived. Because we need not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, evil cannot ultimately prevail. Victory is not determined on a battlefield, but in the soul of man and man’s relationship with the divine.

I strive to teach my children (and myself!) the simple truth that if we’re right with God, we will have the mental and spiritual resilience to withstand whatever the world throws at us, even if it be World War III.

Are you and your family mentally prepared for war? Comment below.

Rebekah Bills served four years as a civilian intelligence officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency, earning 6 Individual Act Awards, DIA’s Science and Technology Mission Enabler Award, and the Director’s Personal Coin. Now — her best assignment to date — she cares for her two young sons, Gabriel and Emmanuel, and her exuberant Great Dane puppy, Beowulf.

This article has been republished under a Creative Commons licence from Intellectual Takeout

The views/statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are strictly the author’s own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Government.

Image credit: Pexels


Showing 9 reactions

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  • mrscracker
    I was blessed to have an opportunity to visit Switzerland last year & it’s a beautiful place. The mountains were just amazing.
    I don’t have a deep trust in any govt. intelligence agency. I just practically understand they are a necessity in a fallen world. Especially for nations that, unlike Switzerland, don’t have special knowledge of everyone else’s private banking. Every country has its own carve-out for survival.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-06-13 18:47:22 +1000
    Dear Mrscracker, of course you are living in a decent place and probably have decent neighbors. I have relatives in the mid-western US, and over there it is exactly the same.

    But: your trust in the US intelligence services is really not justified. According to recent news, there are 17 such agencies. According to a Business Insider report from 2013 the total budget of these agencies was 75 bln USD. It might be 150 bln p.a. today. Plus, the agencies might have built additional internal/illegal income streams, such as when they financed the weapons to the Contras in Nicaragua with profits from drug trafficking, drugs that were consumed in the US!

    But what surprises me most is that you are willing to accept the illegal actions of the agencies, some of which I have described earlier. I call that a double standard and a case of hypocracy.

    The many crimes committed by the CIA are committed in the name of the US. That includes you. It the responsibility of the US citizens to say No to these crimes!

    And just imagine that the Nazi-Germans used exactly the same reasoning for defending their agencies, the same reasoning you have used.

    Agencies are acceptable when they are controlled and obeye the law. Here is an example of how it should be: it is Switzerland: they employ between 300 and 400 people in their agencies. Most of those just spend their days reading foreign newspapers. Furthermore, Switzerland spends significand amounts on cyberdefense, to defend the country against, amongst others, who?

    Switzerland does not bomb other countries, it does not interfere in foreign elections and does not murder foreign politicians, and there is no swiss prison camp overseas.

    Almost everybody loves Switzerland. Switzerland is really governed by it’s citizens. Why is it not the case in the USA?
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Jurgen, I do appreciate your comments & I share your concern about the sort of tactics that can be employed by military intelligence. But I’m just being pragmatic , not naive.
    Truthfully, whatever moral decline you see in the States likely first had its origins elsewhere. We’ve historically experienced cultural change- for better or worse- after it crossed the Atlantic. We’re not on the forefront. These days though with the internet it’s harder to determine the source of things.
    I deeply appreciate where I live & our own state differs greatly from states like California. There’s little wokeness found here. But the US has always had its troubles & it began with a violent revolution/war of secession, has invaded its neighbors on multiple occasions, suffered a second war over secession, & generally went about taking other folks’ lands. I don’t know there’s any point in time that the US was perfectly the land of the brave & free. But it’s mostly a decent place where we still enjoy enough freedom to live our lives without all powerful federal govt. interference. That can change though. So vigilance is necessary & intelligence agencies also. It’s a fallen world. Sadly.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-06-12 15:23:31 +1000
    Dear MrsCracker, please do not be so naive. The CIA has assassinated not only terrorists but also foreign politicians, tortured, dealt with weapons and drugs, spied on all friendly and unfriendly nations, interfered in many foreign elections and destroyed the infrastructure of a friendly nation (nordstream). And they did more, some of which we know or suspect, more of which we do not know or suspect.

    What they are used to do outside the US they may also do inside the US, if necessary via the MI6.

    And where is the benefit to the US? I bet that in the end the result is negative, as the risk is continuously growing that more friends are turning away from the US. When NATO falls apart it will be the responsibility of the imperialist US elite, Biden, Blinken, Nuland, Yellen and all the others who hate God and love power.

    I want my USA back, the old one that once was, the land of the brave and the free, the land of those who trust in God.

    Do you not see that the US is rottening from within, and that its disease is spreading through the western world?

    To all Catholics in the US: do not join the army or the CIA!
  • mrscracker
    Mr. Jurgen,
    What intelligence agency has not behaved in similar ways in the past? Intelligence gathering isn’t something that can always be tidy & transparent, for obvious reasons. Things can be accomplished for the good of our world off-label.

    The end can justify the means to some extent if the end is for what’s truly in a nation & its allies best interest & security. But not by any means. There of course are limits to that.

    I’m wary of the ways our freedoms could be restricted through a ruse of national security but there really is a need for intelligence agencies. We live our everyday lives mostly in safety because people like the author of this article did the job they did.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-06-11 20:10:06 +1000
    Just read again the last paragraph, where this former CIA-employee writes “if we’re right with God”.

    Just wondering if she has ever asked herself how she can be “right with God” when working for the CIA, that has a history of criminal activities, which are well known and documented.

    By the way, the CIA was built by Nazi-Germans, who had been captured by the US at the end of WW2.

    Now, I am asking myself if the atheistic Nazi-approach, that the end justifies any means, and that the elite-warriors in the organization are above the law still prevails in the CIA?
  • mrscracker
    I certainly hope we don’t see WWIII but it sure seems like the powers that be are preparing us for something like that.
  • Jürgen Siemer
    commented 2024-06-11 03:00:12 +1000
    Catholics and other Christians should not join the CIA or the US army. The leadership of those organizations are people with bad intentions.
  • Rebekah Bills