This is a guest post from André and Jeff Shinabarger of Love or Work.
Society has forgotten about the art of raising world changers.
Culture tells us we need to raise our children to be successful. Our children “need” to be on every sports team, “need” to have all the video games, “need” to speak multiple languages, and “need” to score top grades to go to the best college.
Well, we think it’s reasonable to say that society has it wrong.
There is more to raising a “successful” child. The word “success” now means more than school, sports, and the best things.
Our world doesn’t just need “successful” children, our world needs impact, it needs change. We want to raise kids that will change the world, not just win another baseball trophy to display on a bookshelf.
World changing kids give to others.
Our American culture has an amazing way of influencing our kids (and ourselves) to always want more.
If we want our kids to help make the world better, we need to fight the “more is better” mentality with something different. And let me just say it is really hard when everyone around you is getting the new American Girl doll, gaming system, electric scooter, or latest phone.
How do we teach our kids the reality that we have been given much and to consider our responsibilities for others? Teaching generosity starts young and must be continuously reinforced.
If we only surround our kids with people who keep getting more, our kids will only want more. But when we have friends in our lives who live a different story and are content, our kids gain a broader perspective of what they have been given and how they can give toward others.
One idea: Every time your children invite friends over, encourage them to give a toy away to each friend as a departing gift. Foster the spirit of generosity early.
World changing kids love all people.
Kobe Bryant once said, “You can’t inspire millions of people around the world and not be able to inspire the people within your own home.”
As a dad, I want to raise kids that will find love, that will raise great kids, and will also do meaningful work with the abilities they have been given.
That mentality begins today in how we teach them what is important, how we show them to live, and how to love all people. Teaching our kids to love all people, especially those who are different than us, allows open mindedness and diversity of perspective into their lives. This love of diversity is essential to changing the world.
One idea: Introduce your children to a community of people different from them. During this Covid time it may be hard, but you could join a community gathering respecting social distancing guidelines, you could research a different culture, or even watch a documentary about a people-group that is different from your own.
World changing kids have courage.
What they catch us doing they will also do.
If kids see us living out of fear, they too will live out of a scarcity mindset. If we make decisions out of fear or “what if’s,” then they will see that fear of the unknown leads my path, and they will be afraid of pursuing big scary dreams.
If they catch us living out of courage, they too will have a greater opportunity to believe they can follow their dreams.
This is where parents often have a hang up and get stuck in a “safety” mentality. “I am just trying to keep my kids safe,” they exclaim. We must shift our outlook past a fixed mindset of safety as the only priority in parenting.
When we introduce appropriate and reasonable amounts of trials and difficulties to our kids, it will cause them to begin problem solving. Teaching our kids what it means to be problem solvers will cause them to think bigger. It reminds them they are global citizens and they must have courage to change the world.
One idea: Introduce problem-based learning. Focus on a social issue in society and invite your kids to brainstorm ways to solve this problem. If you are brave, take one more step, and DO that idea with your child.
To raise kids that will change the world, we must introduce them to the world.
The world is vast and each culture and community has something unique and important to teach us. Each new experience we choose to introduce to our children expands their hearts and their capacity to love more, and accept others who are different, and treat all people with the dignity they deserve.
We are all different and yet we have so many elements of the human condition that are very much the same. As parents, we have the opportunity to show our kids that we learn from those who are different from us.
One idea: Travel is hard during Covid, but take a road trip and explore the indigenous people groups and their lands in the United States. Learn about the people groups that inhabited the land before us. Explore and learn together.
Seeds planted in youth have created some of the greatest movements in history. If the next generation is raised as thoughtful citizens, our work, our love, our world will change.
Let’s commit to equip our kids to impact our future and push back against society’s view of success. The next generation could be world changers if we teach them how to give, how to love, and how to have courage.
André and Jeff Shinabarger are the authors of the new book, Love or Work: Is It Possible to Change the World, Stay in Love, and Raise a Family?
André works for Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta as a Physician Assistant and is an adjunct professor for Emory University. Jeff is the founder of Plywood People, a non-profit in Atlanta leading a community of startups doing good.