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Jamie M. Howard, PhD, is a clinical psychologist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety and mood disorders in children and adolescents. She is leading a discussion on helping kids cope with trauma and stress. Read and Comment »
Homa Tavangar is author of Growing Up Global and has over 20 years of experience working in cross-cultural issues. Read more »
Sorry, Homa Tavangar is no longer taking questions.
My family is lucky to live in a neighborhood with dozens of school-aged kids, where a lemonade stand often springs up on a clear day. Most parents passing by will try to stop, if only because we know our own children will be itching for an entrepreneurial moment soon themselves. We tip more generously when the proceeds will benefit charity. Increasingly, the six- or eight year-olds might be earning quarters to cure cancer, rebuild Haiti or buy school supplies for kids across town or in a country whose name they can barely pronounce.
The example of children mobilizing for a cause beyond their circumstances demonstrates their readiness to embrace a global mindset. With encouragement and good examples at home and in their community, qualities like compassion, generosity, and practicing the Golden Rule become standards they wish to strive toward, and which put substance behind what it means to be a global citizen.
The notion of global citizenship becomes clearer when I recall the ethic, "Be a friend to the whole human race." Friendship is a universal value - it's important to everyone, and it can be fun. Envisioning this on a wider scale ("to the whole human race"), discussing it, and practicing it in daily life serve as simple, yet powerful tools for raising a new generation to be well-adjusted and peaceful, and ultimately, successful and happy.
We learn what we see.
As a parent, your own willingness to try a new food, learn about another faith, genuinely befriend diverse colleagues and neighbors, or embarrass yourself trying to express ideas in a different language will leave an impression on your children, and they'll be better for it. We're more plugged in than ever, but not necessarily more connected. So, striving to be a friend to the whole human race - starting at home - can be a huge challenge, but also makes a great gift for our children, and an awesome adventure.
To get started with your own family, try one or more of these ideas - in whatever way works best for your own circumstances and interests:
I'd love to hear about your own experiences. What challenges, dilemmas, or
opportunities have you encountered in raising little global citizens, or just trying to be one yourself?
If you'd like to know more, look for a copy of Growing Up Global at your local library or bookstore.
Sorry, Homa Tavangar is no longer taking questions. Feel free to comment on the article and let us know what you think about the topic.