Change The World – How One Child Can Make A Difference

Today, we're featuring a guest post from author, blogger, and mom Christine Gross-Loh. We have three copies of Parenting without Borders to give away -- enter here to win! As moms who care about societal and community issues, we know that one of the most important tools for future social change exists right in our own homes: our children. There is so much potential for them to take the reins and advocate for a better world when they grow up. But how should we nurture and harness this potential?

When researching Parenting Without Borders, I discovered that there are a lot of fascinating ways – ways that go beyond participating in food drives, donating used clothing and toys, or making sandwiches for the homeless - that parents in other cultures believe will help them to raise children who want to do good for the world around them.  One of the many surprising lessons I learned was that it’s not just big acts that teach kids to care. On a daily basis, we also have many chances to inculcate awareness, empathy, and compassion in our kids. If we want to raise kids who will make a difference, we should start at home and ask them to be responsible to those closest to them – to do chores, take care of their siblings, and be competent, helpful members of the family community.

Research shows that children who pitched in at home were actually more likely to volunteer or do community service when they grew up. This isn’t surprising – kids who help out at home have daily opportunities to see and anticipate the needs of others. The more frequently a child sees how his small acts help others – how helpful it is when he folds his own clothes and puts them away, or helps to wipe the table - the more likely it is that later on he will understand that his acts for a wider community, even for those across the earth, do make a difference.

In most cultures around the world having kids pitch in is pretty common. I talked to kids in countries from Sweden, Finland, Japan, and more who run errands, clean the bathroom, cook, do the laundry, and get themselves and their siblings to school. Adults believe this helps cultivate children’s feeling of belonging, competence, and responsibility. We can take a cue from other cultures and guide our kids too: take those few minutes to walk them through how to fold socks, always have them be responsible for their own school things, teach them how to run the laundry machine - so that helping out others becomes a lifelong habit.

In this spirit, The Mission List is giving away three copies of my new book Parenting Without Borders to coincide with Mother's Day.  Enter here to win!