The other day, a friend of mine who is co-founder of an amazing blog, Grace for Moms, posted about opening our children‘s hearts to the world. I was grateful for the article and loved Jessica’s ideas. It’s so easy raising children in affluence to forget about how the rest of the world lives. When we’re not doing all of the things that our daily life demands, we as parents worry about things like class placement and test scores, our children fitting in and being involved in the right activities. I’m not saying these preoccupations are bad. We all want the best for our family. I just believe that exposing our children to what’s happening in the rest of the world is also part of our role as parents.
I know that I often refer to my own mission experiences in developing countries when on this topic. To be fair, I realize this provides a whole different dynamic to the conversations I have with my children. I do say that I highly recommend doing something similar if the opportunity comes along. My devotion to raising grateful, global children is in large part due to my involvement in other countries. But there are ways to reach out without leaving your native soil.
Just the other day, AP had one of her kindergarten classmates over to play. They had stools pulled up to the counter while we baked together. Her friend turned to the side of the refrigerator and asked “Who’s that?”
AP looked at the refrigerator, glancing at the picture of herself in a swing with her Daddy at 10 months old. “Oh that’s me as a baby.”
“No, him.” Her friend pointed to a photo of a beautiful Kenyan girl with a shaved head, smiling from ear to ear.
“Oh, her?” AP replied. “That’s Mary.”
“Who’s Mary?” her friend asked.
“She’s our friend.”
I went on to explain about Mary, that she lives in Africa and we help her to have a good place to live and to attend school. Then the girls moved on. But I was left to digest the conversation. The nonchalance with which AP responded made me realize that including Mary in our lives is integrated into my young girl’s world.
KP and I began sponsoring Mary before AP was even born. She’s always seen the latest picture of her on the refrigerator. Now that she’s older, she draws her pictures and writes her notes when we send care packages. For AP, she is just part of our lives. She is not unlike our family and friends who live in other states. There is no denying the deep chasms that separate Mary’s world from our own. AP will learn those over time. But I hope she will know that just because she was born here and Mary there doesn’t mean Mary shouldn’t have the same opportunities she does. Opportunities like the right to a safe home and the chance to get an education.
You hear again and again that our children are watching us. So try bringing opportunities for world outreach home . Check out Jessica’s ideas here.
If we show that we care about the world, our children will do as we do. They will learn that, inherently, we are all the same. As adults they will believe this. And, as their hearts yearn for change, they will make it happen.