I’ve been wanting to start this series for a long time. Raising global citizens that feel at home all around the world, among various types of people, is a fascinating concept and one close to my heart.
I constantly remind myself and others that we are raising adults, not children. This means that the little ones who currently spend much of their day crying at our feet, asking for snacks, and needing a nap, will one day be contributing members of a globalized society. They will fill the roles of teachers, doctors, designers, baristas, police officers, politicians, and military service members. If there are values you wish the men and women filling those roles today had, you must begin instilling them in your own children right now. As mothers, we have the unique opportunity to positively mold and shape the next generation of leaders to be compassionate toward ALL human life.
Raising children that value and respect others no matter their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other characteristic, is not something that will result haphazardly.
Here’s an excerpt from a PBS article titled, “Teaching Young Children to Resist Bias”
We know from research that children between 2 and 5 start becoming aware of gender, race, ethnicity, and disabilities. They also begin to absorb both the positive attitudes and negative biases attached to these aspects of identity by family members and other significant adults in their lives. If we want children to like themselves and value diversity, we must learn how to help them resist the biases and prejudices that are still far too prevalent in our society.
There are two distinct ways we try and tackle this in our home–Books and Discussion. I also make it a point to stay in connection with groups that value diversity and multiculturalism.
Here are the books we’re currently reading the girls
- Looking at JAPAN by Gwyneth Ashby
- RAD American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz
- Peaceful Heroes by Jonah Winter
- African-American Children’s Stories (A compilation of various authors)
We must be intentional about implementing the concept of talking about subjects we hear about. Of course, this must always be age and maturity level appropriate. But whether it be about presidential candidates, gun violence, or the Syrian refugee crisis (all of which have been topics of conversation this week with my 3 year old), we must not bury our heads in the sand. By discussing tough topics with our children we free them to open up and dialogue with us. Don’t confuse your child’s lack of questioning for lack of knowing. I truly believe that kids are aware of WAY more than they let on. Many times they don’t bring up a subject that they think will upset you, embarrass you, or that you seem to not know about. It’s up to us to begin the dialogue. I chose to share this video podcast (Episode 4) with my daughter as a way to begin a discussion about the Syrian refugee crisis. It focuses on the child’s perspective.
World Refugee Day recently passed on June 20th, and it weighed heavy on my heart that I didn’t post in honor of the day. I really wanted to share with you details and photos of my past experience as a mentor to pregnant refugee women living in Buffalo, NY. But because of my deep respect for the plight of refugees, I wanted to be sensitive and not exploit the women I worked with. For almost two years I was an active member of the Priscilla Project, a facet of Jericho Road Community Health Center. It was an enormously profound experience, that I wish was prevalent in more places throughout the United States. I was able to walk alongside a Somali refugee woman as she gave birth, learned to feed her new baby, and navigated the healthcare and welfare systems. My involvement in the Priscilla Project taught me a new level of cultural sensitivity I didn’t previously have.
I also have joined a group called Multicultural Kid Blogs as a contributing blogger. This is a community of mothers who hail from all around the world and have a common goal of raising world citizens and teaching others to do the same. This site is full of wonderful resources that can help you bring culture into your home, wherever you live. I encourage you to check them out.
Multicultural Kid Blogs:
For families and educators raising world citizens, through arts, activities, crafts, food, language, and love.
I say all of this to challenge you. Challenge you to find a way in your immediate community to become more involved in multicultural affairs. Don’t feel pressured to do this in any specific way. By opening yourself up to those different than you, you will inevitably become more aware of areas in your life that are biased. Think of this as a first step. A step toward becoming a global citizen.
In what ways are you trying to raise a global citizen? Did you watch the Nick News Podcast I linked? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and answer your questions. I always reply.