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Giving your children a global perspective

The world is changing. Technology has connected continents like never before. Within seconds, we hear about triumphs or tragedies happening in faraway places. With this amazing knowledge comes a deep responsibility.

This is the world in which our children live. We have the privilege of introducing them to its beauties, its cultures, and even its challenges. Our kids can become the world’s problem solvers, providing they’ve developed a compassionate heart and an international mindset.

It’s easy for all of us – mothers and children alike – to be mostly concerned with ourselves, our needs, and our own countries. But a personal, intentional connection with the world broadens our horizons, keeps our problems in perspective, and supplies us with ideas to positively impact others.

A global perspective eliminates a “them” and “us” mentality – when we realize that those around the planet cherish similar hopes and dreams as our own, it makes the world a smaller place. A place our children can influence and help.

taj mahal
Photo by John Haslam

Global-mindedness is a given in our family, which has been blessed by diversity. My biological son and I were born in the USA; my husband’s originally from England, and we have two children through international adoption – Elijah (born in Liberia) and Trishna (born in India).

Other cultures are as much a natural part of our life as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But no matter where you or your children were born – you can have a globally-minded family as well.

Here are six easy and fun ways to do so.

1. Eat!

Photo by Michael Johnson

Most cities have a variety of ethnic restaurants, so take the opportunity to expose your children to various cuisines. Consider an “International Day” once a month based around a country’s holidays, and prepare a diverse meal or dessert at home. Let your kids take turns deciding which country’s delicacies to sample next.

Helpful Links:

2. Listen and repeat.

When you have the chance, let your children hear those who speak another language. Listen to CDs with songs that introduce your little ones to the language of their choice. The goal isn’t necessarily fluency – just exposure and interest. Many kids’ DVDs have dubbed languages – let your child watch once in English (to grasp the plot) and once in another language.

3. Discuss.

When appropriate, talk with your children about what is going on in the world. Learn about various countries that interest you. Have a map or globe you can pull off a shelf and locate a place you hear about. Make global awareness a natural part of your life.

4. Read.

mom reading to three kids
Me, reading with my kids

There are many books that can introduce your family to places far from home. Some of our favorites include A Life Like Mine, Children Just Like Me, and The Lion Storyteller (World Folk Tales). Libraries are teeming with these and similar choices.

5. Watch and play.

Rent or buy documentaries for your children that explore new cultures. Our favorite series is The Little Travelers, a show that follows two young girls as they discover new countries with their mother. This has inspired much imaginative play in our house – my three little people love pretending to be travelers headed to various locations on their “plane” (also known as the sofa).

6. Go!

Only about 25 percent of Americans own passports. I understand some of the reasons: our country is vast and many people vacation within states. You don’t have to travel to form a global mindset, but there’s an awareness that comes from “being there” that’s harder to grasp in other ways.

Our goal is that our children travel to a minimum of one foreign country by the time they graduate and leave home. We hope the number will be even more than one. Yes, it might require financial planning and sacrifice, but the education and exposure our kids receive will far surpass the investment.

Introducing children to other cultures can enrich families in so many ways. It enlarges our worldview and alters our perspective. Through learning about others we grow to know ourselves even more, and we discover more about the beautiful planet of which we’re stewards.

Our children will be the ones to inherit these lands – let’s prepare and equip them with knowledge, passion, and curiosity to influence and bring a positive change to our world.

If money was no object, what country/culture would you like to explore with your children?

This post was first published on September 18, 2009.

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Micha

    We love travelling, but we have only been in European countries with our kids (we’re from Germany). If money was no object, I would like to travel to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico….
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Einladungen / invitation cards =-.

  2. Lo

    I really enjoyed this post. I do believe that we as parents have the means now to raise conscious children and open minded. I really enjoyed your take on the issue.
    If money was no object for me I’d like my daughter to learn about discipline of the Japanese culture, the joy of life of the Italians and the great country of Peru.

    • Jamie

      Yes, Lo – Italy and Japan are on our lists as well!


  3. Shannon

    We were just talking the other day about how easy it is to forget how tiny we are in the big picture. We are incredibly blessed to live where we do, but none of us deserve to be born here anymore than a small child being kidnapped into an army in Africa. I think to teach children about other cultures is to teach them empathy and gratitude for what they have because we live far better than most in the rest of the world.
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Food Roots, September 17: where does your food come from? =-.

  4. Ann at mommysecrets

    Great post Jamie!! Did you know that ‘cultural competencies’ is actually one of the 40 Developmental Assets ( that have been proven to increase positive behaviors (health, grades, leadership) and decrease negative behaviors (drinking, drugs, violence)? I love that you are encouraging your family & your readers to be culturally competent and open to exploring new things!!
    .-= Ann at mommysecrets´s last blog ..Treasures I’ve Been Waiting to Share with You =-.

    • Julia

      I’ve never heard of that association before, but it makes a lot of sense. To see the world as a place of possibilities to explore is important. We all need hopes and dreams.

  5. Aimee

    Wonderful post, Jamie, thank you.
    My husband and I agreed that we would travel with our children, even if it meant having less ‘stuff’ to be able to afford it. Let’s face it, travel is not cheap! So far we’ve traveled nationally with the children quite a bit, but I hope to take them international before long.

    Honestly, I don’t have any favorite picks for destinations–we’re interested in just about anywhere!

    Did you ever read the blog “Six in the World?” A family with four children traveled for a year around the world. It was fascinating to follow along! Very inspiring.
    .-= Aimee´s last blog ..Talking Jam on SimpleMom =-.

    • Jamie

      Hi, Aimee. I haven’t read that blog, but I did read about a family who did the same thing. So fascinating, I’d love to do the same!


      • TheActorsWife

        We traveled abroad for the first time when our son was 9 months old, and again at 15 months. And though we had concerns, it was so wonderful to see things through his eyes. As if I didn’t already appreciate good French pastry enough, watching my toddler find such delight with that buttery goodness in his mouth, made me love it all the more.

        Agree, it’s all about priorities and my family has put travel toward the top of our list.

  6. Stacie @

    Thanks for these wonderful tips. I did not grow up with a global mindset. It wasn’t until I went to college and did my student teaching overseas that I even had a glimpse into another culture besides my own. I am way behind and want my children to have a better perspective of the world than I did.

    I look forward to returning to Italy, family in tow:).
    .-= Stacie @´s last blog ..When Should We Transition From Crib to Toddler Bed? =-.

  7. melissa

    FANTASTIC! My husband was born in India and we are both very well-traveled. We are always trying to teach the kids about other places. What a great post – thanks!!!
    .-= melissa´s last blog ..yes, that would be rude indeed. =-.

  8. Laura

    Thank for this. It is so important to raise our children with a sense of perspective. I was lucky enough to spend some of my childhood overseas, and returned the to U.S. shocked by how little American children knew about the world around them. I really like the tips you share (and the books you recommend are top-notch), but I also want to mention the importance of news and current events. Obviously, this has to be done gently, with an eye to the kids’ ages, since there is so much going on in the world that we understandably want to shelter our kids from. But I go out of my way to find little international news items that *aren’t* concerned with genocide or starvation, little human interest stories or wildlife things, and then try to connect that to the globe, who we know who has visited that country, etc.

    And if you *do* have older kids, it is essential that they understand current events. So many high schoolers are ignorant of what it going on outside their own little worlds. Reading the newspaper, discussing world news at the dinner table… little things add up. Thanks for this reminder.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Outsourcing =-.

    • Jamie

      Great point, Laura. There are many ways (dinner table conversation seems a natural one) to tastefully incorporate current events in our children’s lives.


  9. Satakieli

    Great Article!

    I’m a Brit, married to an American (of Brazilian descent) and we live in Germany at the moment. Even though my son is only 2, we try our hardest to incorporate all of these different cultures into his life. Because he is only 2 we cannot travel as much as we would like, but we can do what we can with the wonderful opportunities at home.
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..English Tea =-.

  10. Tiffany

    Those are great tips. Recently, we made a small loan through Kiva to a woman in Africa. Browsing through the business plans and loan requests on that site with my kids opened lots of good conversation.

    We also love reading together about different places in the world. In fact, don’t I recognize you from one of my favorite forums where great books get discussed a lot? I think I’ve seen that beautiful picture of you and your children before 🙂
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Mac and Cheddar with Broccoli =-.

    • Jamie

      If you mean Sonlight, then yes, yes, yes! =)


  11. Lisa

    Jamie, This is such a fantastic post– I wholeheartedly agree with everything you wrote! Travel has always been so important to me…I’ve often said my first trip to Africa was one of the most person/character/life shaping times of my life. I am a BIG fan of volunteer vacations, having done a number of them myself, I know they allow you to connect and know a place in a short period of time that would be hard without doing the volunteer part.
    And kids can get involved volunteering as well…even from home by making and sending cards, small gifts, or collecting money for places they will see before they go (wonderful for in states travel or beyond!). How special to seek out a charity in a place you’ll visit spend some time giving to that place in some way and then being able to personally visit later on!
    When I read your post I kept thinking of the blog A homeschooling mama who has a strong focus on cultivating an international compassion in her children for people all over the world– she has many excellent resources and posts on her site to help you do the same.
    Thanks so much for writing this!
    Blessings, Lisa
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Five Things to Share =-.

    • Jamie

      Hi Lisa! Africa is a life-changing place, isn’t it? The first time I went, I came home with a son – forever changed, for sure – and so much for the better…


  12. Kirsty-Abu Dhabi

    Great post – my children are lucky enough to have travelled to many countries and their awareness of the world and geography amazes me. My 3 1/2 year old can rattle off capital cities and point out countries on a map just because she’s been there and found them fascinating. A second language is also very important to us and my blonde haired blue eyed daughter speaks as much chinese as english and says she’s chinese because she was born there!!
    We love the Little Einstens series becase not only do they go on advantures but they go to real places and my big girl loves that she can shout out “I’ve been there” or “My Grandma’s been there”
    .-= Kirsty-Abu Dhabi´s last blog ..Sheik Zayed Mosque | Abu Dhabi Photographer =-.

    • Jamie

      Little Einsteins is a hit around here, too, Kirsty! You’re right, a personal connection with a place makes it so much more memorable – for someone of any age.


  13. Sarah

    This post was so good, but the resources I’ve found in the comments have been just as wonderful! So excited to explore more.

    I went to Ireland as a young adult and worked there for a short time. When I returned to the states I was blown away by the lack of interest in anywhere outside of the USA, sometimes the lack of interest in anywhere outside of their own STATE! It was no surprise that when 9-11 happened, most Americans were truly clueless about any hostility towards the USA. I wish it could have been more of a wakeup call for those around me, but it hasn’t been.

    I read an article that I’ve been meaning to blog about. It’s about how even babies discriminate based on skin color and that as parents, you have to answer their questions about the differences when they ask instead of putting them off with platitudes. VERY interesting article.

    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Our day is ending. =-.

    • Jamie

      Hi Sarah – great points. We have MANY conversations about skin color around here, as you can imagine, but it always seems to come up very naturally. So far, our children all love being the color they were born with – I’m sure we’ll have interesting talks as time goes by….


  14. Caroline Starr Rose

    Thanks, Jamie. Thanks to my mom and dad, too, who naturally lived their international experiences in front of me and made the world my home.
    .-= Caroline Starr Rose´s last blog ..Jane Austen Confessions =-.

  15. Emily

    Jamie, so glad to see you here at Simple Mom! You two are two of the three blogs I try to check every day! Your post here resonates with me today deeply. I have had the seed of international adoption sprouting in my heart. My husband and I can do these wonderful suggestions with our son and expand our connections with the world, prepare ourselves to consider welcoming a child from another culture. But as I read here, I am very sad because I worry about the limited experiences of our extended family and their unfortunate lack of exposure to communities beyond their own. I would love to know how that has gone for you. How have your families welcomed your children? How do you insure that your children are surrounded in global thinking when outside of your own home?
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..First day of school =-.

    • Jamie

      Hi Emily. Nice to see your comment, and you have some great questions.

      We’ve been blessed to have relatives who have welcomed our diverse family with open arms. I’ve found that at first the “idea” of an internationally-adopted child can raise questions in a family’s mind, but when the actual child arrives home – he or she is no longer just an idea and everyone falls in love with him/her in the same way they would a new biological child.

      We make it a point to live in a place that is diverse and open to our family, and we try to seek out experiences/friends to instill this type of perspective within our kiddos.

      Hope this helps,


  16. Rachel

    Great post!! This is something that I think is so important! One thing my family did growing up was host exchange visitors from other countries in our home. We had a different person living with us from a different country every year from the time I was in first grade until I was in high school. I didn’t realize at the time what a gift it was. I was so used to having cultures other than my own surround me to learn and grow from. Plus we learned to know so many other people whom we are now able to visit as we travel internationally. It not only gives you a chance to see and do less “touristy” things but also can provide free or cheap lodging, not to mention maintaing and strengthening friendships. And I also think that knowing someone from another country personally, helps to break down the barriers of “us and them” and helps you to focus on all of the commonalities we have as human beings living in this world. I only hope that I can give my children the rich multi-cultural experiences I was blessed with as a child! Thanks so much for reminding me how important this is to me!

  17. Kika

    My husband and I have both travelled some and want to share this with our children. We’ve taken our oldest to West Africa (my husband’s home) but he doesn’t remember much so this would be a priority because of family there and so that our children may understand their roots. We have a plan to drive across Canada next summer, spending most of our time in Quebec (our favorite city and where my husband and I met. We speak both French and English at home and the Quebec trip will be an opportunity for my kids to practice their French as well. Beyond that, I dream of renting a villa in Italy and spending a year there, soaking up the language, culture and eating tons! We hope to learn a third language at some point (my husband already speaks three). My immediate family is culturally diverse as well, including four adopted children. One brother has married a dutch girl, another is planning to marry his sweetheart who is Chinese and of course, I married an African. I believe that my parents’ love for people of other cultures rubbed off! Lastly, I agree with the ideas of sharing our love for other people and lands both through literature and through natural discussion of current events.

    • Kika

      Oops! forgot to say another sister married an Brit!

  18. Jenny Brown


    I feel very lucky that my parents believed strongly in exposing my brother and me to the world and its history. When my father served in the Army in France, he made friends with a French family; they took turns hosting dinners in their homes and speaking the language of the hosts. Later, their daughter came to stay with us for a summer. We’ve continued to visit back and forth lo these 40 years. What a gift.

    Children will only care about their world if they feel like a part of it. Thanks for making that point so well.


  19. iman

    Malaysia, Morocco, Holland and the list goes on.
    We are very lucky that we have been able to make an international trip almost every year. This year it’s Spain!
    .-= iman´s last blog ..For the kiddos =-.

  20. Dominique

    We stay in Singapore and travel quite a bit within Asia. The boys go a school with an international mix of students and they do get to mix about with the different cultures, people, languages and food. You can say we are lucky to have a melting pot of cultures and food at our doorstep.
    .-= Dominique´s last blog ..Weekend Reflections- Being Systamatic =-.

  21. Trina

    Thank you for the lovely post! I think there is a great 7th thing you can do to make your children more globally aware, and nuture a spirit of Love, Joy, Peace, Kindness and Goodness at the same time: Become foster parents to children from an impoverished country. We have 3 children but have fostered 2 from Uganda for 5 years now. It’s a joy and a complete blessing to live sacrificially in some areas of our lives in order to make sure that Derrick and Isabella are cared for, loved and educated. It’s a very special thing! If you want to know more about our charity of choice, you can check out Loving others is what life is all about!

  22. Jill

    My kids LOVE the Little Traveler’s DVD’s – Im so glad you mentioned them once in a prior post where I first heard of them. Even several weeks after watching the DVD my daughter saw something unusual and said, ‘that is just like what they eat in Bali!’
    I also think having a globe/ map in access is great- we are always running for the globe to pin point something…
    Another great idea to get your child connected in a special way to another culture it to help support a child in need. At my son’s leading we recently looked at the children online (at organizations such as World Vision and Compassion) where your child can pick a country of their interest. My son is so excited to exchange pictures and letters to a boy his age who lives in China and be able to help him!
    Thanks Jamie- I think this was stemmed from mulling over your intentional giving ideas- I loved the visual I had of your kids taking turns ‘clicking’ and giving…beautiful!

  23. Catherine

    Thanks so much for this post! Oh gosh, if money and time were no object – I think my husband and I (and our soon-to-be baby boy!) would start at one end of the world and visit every country. How amazing would that be?

    Next on our list is Seoul, South Korea, from where we are adopting our son. We’re expecting a travel call any day now. In addition to teaching our son about his birth country and culture, it’s so important to us that we explore other cultures with him as well. Traveling and experiencing other cultures is one our favorite pastimes, and we are so excited to share our passion with the newest little addition to our family.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Itching For a Travel Call =-.

    • steadymom

      Congratulations on your baby boy, Catherine! Getting “the call” is one of the most amazing parts of the adoption process!

      .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Inspiration for Your Weekend =-.

  24. Becky

    Our 3 kids are from Liberia, and I often daydream about going back with them, finding their village, tracking down relatives, and experience “real” Liberian life.
    .-= Becky´s last blog could I refuse? =-.

    • steadymom

      Hi Becky – it’s always special to “meet” other families with Liberian children. We look forward to taking our whole family back when the kids are a little older….

      .-= steadymom´s last blog ..In Search of Steady Moms =-.

  25. nova

    one of our kids favourite toys is their Hugg-A-Planet – a soft globe that they can look at & play with.. it gets used all the time in conjunction with story books 🙂

    my greatest travelling inspiration is one of my friends who has spent the last year travelling with her *8* children (aged 3-14) + husband, mostly overland from new zealand to singapore, through asia, through russia & throughout europe, and all on a shoestring budget! they’ve got a few months left to go, and i always think what an amazing life experience this will be for her kids! –

  26. beingMRS

    Luv this post! I’ve always agreed in living forward and learn globally. I’m a stay-at-home blogger Mom of a 3year old, from Malaysia. Last month we traveled to our neighbour country, Singapore when he’s 2yr 10months.

    From that trip, he learn about the purpose of maps. We drove around the city ourselves. We couldn’t start traveling overseas any earlier coz he doesn’t seem to understand things that much yet.

    Next month, ‘if circumstance allow’, we hope to take him to Japan Disney Sea. A country with much to explore; their culture and their daily living with technology advancement.

    We’ve spent about MYR4000-MYR5000 (USD1150-USD1400) in our Singapore trip and to join a travel tour package to Japan for 7-8days would require another MYR20k-MYR25k (USD5700 – USD7000)! That is our ‘my circumstance’… LoL.
    .-= beingMRS´s last blog ..In Between =-.

  27. Amy Reads Good Books

    Ooo, if money were no object, we’d start in Asia, probably Japan (since I’ve never been) and then work our way back home via Europe!

    Until then, it’s great to share books. I love your ideas!
    .-= Amy Reads Good Books´s last blog ..Teaser Tuesday =-.

  28. Cate

    I work in international education (K-12) and I’m thrilled to see so many parents dedicated to helping their children develop a global perspective.

    @nova – Is the Hugg-a-Planet available online? Sounds like it would make a great gift. Also, I’ve been following your friend’s blog as they travel the world – very inspiring!
    .-= Cate´s last blog ..Time and…Coffee? =-.

  29. luucy

    The light that plays, like a naked child, among the green leaves happily knows not that man can lie.      mens tiffany rings

  30. Luckybeans

    When we had children, we actively chose to move overseas. There is simply no substitute for experience, on one level. That said, it is wonderfully encouraging to find posts like this. People can be very monoscopic in their understanding of the world, and the more awareness, the better.

    The one thing I would add to your list would be to make friends! People who are traveling and living outside of their home country appreciate any help and inclusion into a welcoming home they can get.

    Thanks for this post. It’s obvisiously got us all thinking.
    .-= Luckybeans´s last blog ..Hello There =-.

  31. hottiffanyshop

    Genius only means hard-working all one’s life.

    Mendeleyev, Russian chemist

  32. Alex

    If money were no object, we’d visit my 90-year-old grandparents on the other side of the country more. We won’t have them for long. The rest of the world can wait!

  33. Hanadi

    I really like your post! Your whole blog!

    I believe that raising our children with this perspective, globally thinking, will make as all the same, remove all the different between all of the countries..

    BTW, am from Saudi Arabia!

  34. Nichole

    Great post! My husband’s family is from West Africa and I remember while we were dating, all the interesting dishes his family would make (fufu, stew, plantains, goat)- really is was very eye-opening to me. Now we see our own children eating a global variety of foods-things that I was only exposed to as an adult. Really it’s amazing how children are open to learn things about different cultures.
    .-= Nichole´s last blog ..autumn: in a basket =-.

  35. MamaShift

    I think learning languages is necessary in today’s world. In much of the world people are at least bilingual. Most of the people I know speak at least three.
    I live in Lithuania and it’s pretty much a given that I ask someone if he or she speaks English or Russian he or she will be able to respond in one or the either — and often in either. (I’m working on the Lithuanian, but it’s a toughie!)
    .-= MamaShift´s last blog ..Memory Monday: Montana =-.

  36. pretty

    Tiffany there are new pull, come to buy it

  37. tiffanystock

    I am a former employee of tiffany&co. Just to answer your question of why Tiffany&co Jewelry sterling silver is so expensive,
    well, yes you’re paying for the designer name, but they’ve earned that name. Honestly, Tiffany has outstanding craftmanship
    and quality. Just compare it to any other piece of sterling silver jewelery and you will see the difference. You will see this excellent
    craftsmanship in everything they manufacture…from their sterling silver, to their crystal, to their engagement rings.
    I hope that one day I will get an engagement ring from Tiffany! And just for your info, tiffany&co set the standard for sterling silver (925 parts pure silver and 75 parts copper) that is now used worldwide.

  38. kathy lawler

    At the “mid-age” of my life, I have returned back to college; and found this site, for a research project…… A single unemployed mother, blessed with two children, ages 11 and 20; I have spoke of my past life; I have shared experiences/challenges with them; No matter what don’t ever LIE CHEAT OR STEAL !! and I am bless that they don’t. they are diverse. they do accept.. if one does not like someone… just be nice..we say..
    Our children are our future; We must guide them into loving, peaceful, caring, respectful directions, to achieve much greatness..

  39. Nicole @ Burning Bushes

    There’s great inspiration here to keep striving to introduce my kids to more of the world. I lived in China for two years but can so easily find myself forgetting to share other cultures with my kiddos. We’ve really enjoyed watching the short prayer videos from Operation World and I have an art book, ‘The Image of God’ by Ric Ergenbright with fantastic photos of people around the world.

    I suppose I’d love the kids to see China, where I was for a few years or Turkey, where their daddy was. We’ll see! Thanks again!

  40. Green Beauty Girl

    Learning about different cultures at an early age is an important social skill.

  41. Betsy

    Thanks for these great ideas. My kids are TCK’s, born in El Salvador and living in the Middle East. We dream of going to Egypt.

    Our kids are old enough to handle most international news, and my 14 year old keeps ME posted. He subscribes to CNN and gets updates on his ipod. I love talking with him about the issues.

    A great resource for prayer with upper elementary kids: “Window on the World” by Spragget and Johnstone. We got it through Sonlight, great stories and photographs.

  42. TheActorsWife

    Such wonderful advice! We recently enrolled our toddler in a daddy and me french class. My husband’s work partner lives in Paris and given that we anticipate traveling to France on semi-regular basis, we thought it was important that he hear and eventually speak the language. But even if that were not the case, exposing our little guy to the global world, in an effort to raise an educated, curious, and open-minded world citizen, is one of primary goals.

  43. Tere

    What a wonderful article. I am, for the most part, Ameurasian, & grew up in San Francisco.

    My father is Poruguese, Irish, Goanese and Chinese from Shanghai. My mother is American with a European mix.

    Culture was never a question but a lifestyle for our family and our friends. I have always been overwhelmed by people who had an ignorance towards cultures and differences. At times, comments were shocking and still are.

    I love curry and coffee from all over the world. I treasure dinners with family and friends and the foods they share with us. My mix has created a love for life that is admired and has made me a interesting and talented woman. I am 48, cross cultural marriage was a no-no in the 1960s. Praises to my parents for raising me without ignorance of cultures.

    I truly hope that your article here inspires and educates others who are not so fortunate to grow up in the manner I have been raised, raise my children in, and that you are raising your children with.

    Darling, YOU ROCK! Would love to see you share your cultural adventures with your family on this site… The more people know, read and see, the better they can accept the incredible variety of lovely people out there in the world!

  44. Kristen

    My mother-in-law took each of her children, just one at a time, on a special vacation when they were seniors in highschool. My husband went with her to Ireland, where they researched and met some of their distant relatives. He still shakes his head in amazement that his cousins live in a house with a dirt floor and only got electricity 20 years ago. My sister-in-law, who was and is an artist, went to France and visited the museums. My mother-in-law is a wise woman who knows that by following her children’s interests, they’d become more involved in the trip and she got one more great memory with her kids before college, jobs, spouses, and children got in the way. I am going to try to make money no object and do the same with each of my kids. I wonder where they’ll take me…

  45. TracyAlsterlund

    My daughter is adopted from Pune , India and we are planning a family trip when she is in her early teens. One birthday she decided to for go presents and just asked for money for her India travel fund. While the food, clothing, music, art, etc is so enticing, my daughter will need to be cured of her bug and germ phobia, and easy gag reflex before we make any big plans. At least annually we go to Camp Masala a camp for families that have adopted from India. It gives us some global experiences without the long flight or driving the streets of India.

  46. Klara

    you and your hubby must be great parents, im sure! i absolutely agree your advices to make some interest in the kids to foreign cultures. we only used to travel with my son, when he was small. BUT now he wants to go on with their studies in japan, inspired by a trip from his childhood! i’m so glad to see how many impressions he got from the early years. it would be interesting to make a diary of the things you do with your children and ask for the impressions they made after a decade.

  47. Krista B

    My husband and I recently spent a number of months in a third world country with our three small children. It was the first long(er) term experience we each had had in a place. It was absolutely life changing. We are not frivolous people nor were we on holidays, in fact, we sacrificed much of our own time and money to take such a trip. Our conviction to give our kids a global perspective, as God enables us, we pray not only serves to allow us to give them great experiences, but allows God to cultivate in them a compassion for others and an awareness of our own cultural snares (materialism) that would otherwise not really be as possible. What a gift!

  48. Amy

    Great post! I spent four challening (but renewing months) in West Papua, Indonesia studying missions and cross cultural missions in the winter of 1999. I would LOVE to take my husband and children there someday and show them where I was. It was over $3,000 to fly there in ’99–I can’t imagine how much it would cost now!

  49. Leslie A.

    One thing we have done to get to know the world around us is hosting our church’s missionaries for dinner. We try to read their websites. When a missionary is in town, I try to have them over for dinner and listen to their stories. Monday is “Pray for Missionaries” day – we go over any needs or praises the missionaries have shared and each child picks someone to pray for. This has kept them connected to people around the world.

  50. Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou

    What a great article – and what a coincidence. I just published an article called : Celebrate Diversity Awareness Month With Multicultural Instruments To Make and Play At Home.

    I was born in the USA , but grew up in Peru. I’ve traveled with my kids and my music to Israel, Greece, Latin America and back and forth to visit cousins on the Jemez Native American Pueblo. Having knowledge is one thing, seeing the world and experiencing how others live is truly educational and makes a world of difference to us all!

  51. Living the Balanced Life

    I remember reading the Children Like Me book when we homeschooled, as well as some other great DK books. And of course there are lots of video/DVD options. Be sure to check your local lobraries. Also be sure to sheck the events calendar, especially if you live in a large metro area. We try every year to attend a large traditional Greek festival held in Atlanta every year. Lots of opportunities even if you cannot travel.
    If I could travel? Italy, Greece, Ireland, New Zealand…

  52. Rita Gleason

    I love this post…I have always said that the summer between my boy’s junior and senior year of high school I want to take them for one month to the countries of their choice (I really should start saving soon.)….but if money where no object and I got to make the choice I would probably choose Ireland, Italy, Bali, Peru and perhaps Japan.

  53. Sharon W

    Taiwan! That’s where my husband grew up and neither my daughter nor I have been there.

  54. Criss

    My husband and I have been to China (among other countries). Our kids have heard us talk about China so much over the years, they are eager to experience it themselves. I would love to take them there.

  55. Becky

    Love it!:) We also are from 3 continents, 4 countries and try to give our kids a global perspective.

  56. Jeff

    This is excellent. I’m not a parent yet, so I write about aids to those in their twenties and thirties looking to spend extended time abroad.

    My premises is exactly that of the authors, “[we] can become the world’s problem solvers, providing [we’ve] developed a compassionate heart and an international mindset.”

    Might we all work to expose ourselves to other cultures. We will be better for it. Our careers will be better for it. And our world will be better for it.

    Thank you for this post. I’ll be sure to share it with my community of travelers.


    Santa Barbara, CA, USA

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