What does it really mean to raise globally-minded children?

by Anjelica Malone

Raising globally-minded kids means opening up yourself to new ways of learning, living, and being. Once you take the step of being open to other cultures, you’ll be more likely to pass that on to your children.

Presenting my family with a traditional Balinese meal that I learned to make from our host Putu when we visited Ubud, Bali.

When my husband and I first arrived in Puerto Rico we enlisted the help of a realtor. We scheduled a time to meet to begin looking at homes. Unbeknownst to us, our meeting time was a loose one. As we waited thirty minutes, one hour, then close to 2 hours past the time we were supposed to meet, we realized that we were not our realtor’s primary concern. We took this very personally and began to think, “How can a place run if no one’s on time?”

Before my husband and I moved to Puerto Rico six years ago, we really valued timeliness. We left little time and space for lingering chats with friends or neighbors, and we rushed ourselves into a frenzy trying to get to the next thing. If that meant cutting a great conversation off, we did. We also expected others to do the same. We became quickly irritated if someone showed up late for an appointment. We never considered the fact that the person might be engaging in a worthy interaction that required just a bit more time.

Fast-forward to today and two islands later, we find ourselves engaged in a lifestyle of greater tolerance and ease. We’ve learned not to rush every interaction and to give affirmations of grace to friends when they mention running late. We’ve learned to say, “No worries, take your time”, and embrace the freedom that it provides us as well—extra moments to relax, take notes, or simply be with our thoughts. Something I don’t remember having time for before island life captured us.

Since arriving back to the mainland earlier this year I’ve witnessed how the sense of urgency can easily seep back into our lives; weekends are filled with birthday parties, we feel a draw to visit all the local events, and we pile our schedules with dinner plans, making it difficult to slow down for impromptu exchanges. On the islands of Guam and Puerto Rico, I realized that a single, meaningful, soul-filling event with another person or family could really be more than enough for an entire week.

I share this lesson with you because it has been foundational to me as I raise globally-minded children. It’s a regular reminder of how I (though I was raised overseas) still held onto strong American preferences that initially made it hard for me to connect with my new community in Puerto Rico. Once I released and opened myself up to learning another way of living, I found deep wisdom that has helped me in many other areas of life.

Raising globally-minded children sprouts within us as parents being intentional to embrace new views. This spurs us onto partake in actions that will hopefully develop globally–minded characteristics within ourselves and subsequently our children.

Putting these new views into action is where the fun is. It involves tasting, traveling, and talking. We allow ourselves and our children the opportunity to experience these things on a first-hand basis. We show our kids that our way of living is simply a way of living, not the only way.

Through tactile experiences we begin to release our hold on beliefs that our food, views on career, or language are innately better, more civil, or superior than someone else’s.

By experiencing the diversity of our world first hand, we become more open-minded adults who recognize that differences are an opportunity to gain deeper empathy and richer ways of living.

Here are a few ways our family has begun to put global citizenship in action. These are simple steps you can follow on your own journey.

  1. Choose friends wisely. Whenever we move to a new community I look for the same things tha

    Eating at our friend Chee’s house. She is from Hokkaido, Japan and made us some Japanese food.

    t most parents look for, but I also try not to stick too closely to befriending only those who look like me, worship where I do, and come from the same background as I do. We are mindful to choose friends who are also seeking diversity in their friendships. If this isn’t something you’ve thought of doing already you may find it to be more difficult to raise your kids in a globally mindful way because your immediate community consists of those who want to stick with what is familiar and comfortable.

  2. Evaluate your language. Do you speak of those with different hair texture, accent, or clothing choices as if they are an other? This doesn’t just relate to cultural attire but also name brands and quality. Maybe the things said aren’t meaningfully derogatory, but are said in a way that describes what your family has as “normal” and someone else has as peculiar. It may also be important to take note of how your peers speak of people. Do they use terms or imply certain things in the presence of your children that may perpetuate a stereotype or bias?
  3. Respect Cultures & Holidays. During my time on Guam, this played a part in my support of pregnant and new moms. As I would share tips like performing squats to prepare for labor, my advice would oftentimes be met with hesitation because of traditional warnings against it. As I visited new mothers postpartum other cultural beliefs would often come up. I had a mother once share her concern over what she believed to be excessive fussiness in her new baby. I offered advice on feeding on demand, burping intermittently throughout a feeding, and swaddling to soothe, but she went on to explain that she was concerned about a Taotaomona (ancient spirit) disturbance being the cause. Instead of brushing off their concerns, we would collaborate on solutions and ways for them to embrace their truths while also trying modern solutions. These and other interactions with mamas on the island are experiences I cherish because I have learned how to serve women of diverse backgrounds without trying to simply impart knowledge onto my clients. I have learned how deeply culture can play a part in child rearing and that sensitivity is needed in order to truly serve a woman and have her feel comfortable enough with you to share her beliefs. As parents we can do this by simply getting to know the people we regularly interact with in life and the family of our children’s friends. By doing this, we become aware of their traditions and important holidays and are able to offer a simple greeting or acknowledgment during that season or on the date of celebration. This may eventually lead to deeper conversations and possibly an invitation to observe their special occasion with them.
  4. Try Various Cuisines: Exploring different parts of the world through food is probably our family’s favorite way to broaden our outlook. We really love trying foods made by different communities, but when we can’t, we bring the flavors into our cooking at home. One of my favorite dishes to make for postpartum moms is a spin on traditional chicken noodle soup, using turmeric. Turmeric is a spice commonly found in Indian dishes. It adds a bright yellow tinge to the food and contains anti-inflammatory properties. While on Guam we learned to make a popular condiment called Finadene that we love sharing with new friends. Finadene is a soy, vinegar, onion, and hot pepper infusion used for dipping meat and accenting rice dishes. Locals on Guam typically forage their own peppers but you can use any hot pepper you like.

Each of these things is an opportunity to better understand what it means to be globally-minded and raise global citizens. These steps are doorways along a committed path of better understanding. What I hope is that you will find ways to devote yourself and your family to a style of living that promotes unity, empathy, and a greater understanding of our world. As you do, you may find yourself (like me and my family) being late for appointments, slowing down on your daily commute, or just offering friends a little grace when they’re running behind. Those are just some of the things that might change—but I’m sure you’ll discover the many other ways that becoming a global citizen can change your worldview, and in the process, change your children as well.

About the Author

Anjelica Malone is the author of Milk Boss 101: The Modern Breastfeeding Journal and Guide. She is also a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor, birth and postpartum doula, and a Childbirth Educator serving women in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband, two Little Women, and their mini-dachshund, Aoki. Visit www.AnjelicaMalone.com to book her services or read her writings, which focus on encouraging women to embrace their passions and equipping them to navigate motherhood in the way that’s most natural to them.

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