Want to help your children succeed in the decades ahead? You don't need money. More than anything, building a global mindset is the key to their success. And it's easier (and cheaper) to do than you think!
Like most moms around the world, I worry about how best to prepare my 5-year-old for success. Of course it's hard because I want "success" for her to be about her dreams not mine and at 5 years old I honestly have no idea what she will grow up wanting to be. Will it be a ballerina like Angelina Ballerina? She loves ballet and she is good at it but I'm thinking that's not likely if she grows to her predicted 6 feet in height. Will it be an artist given her penchant for painting or drawing anything and everything? Perhaps. Will it be a business person like her mommy....a career she thinks is cool because "I" make delicious foods she and her friends love to eat like Mac & Cheese and Oreos and because I sometimes get to be "the boss."
Or, will she be more like her daddy - a fearless sailor and a builder and fixer of all things electrical and mechanical? Whatever she chooses in the end, I want to do my best now to prepare her to be successful at it. The question is how? And how to do it now when most of us are trying to cut back and when the conventional wisdom seems to be that we have to spend a lot to help our kids get ahead - be it on private schools, private lessons, etc.
Before I go further, let me confess that I am a product of private school and I did have my fair share of private lessons. And, I will forever be thankful to my parents for the sacrifices they made to enable me to have those things. But looking at the world today, I don't think that any of these things individually will help my daughter succeed as much as how I help shape her attitude towards the world at large. That's why I think we all have to start now to ensure that our kids grow up with global mindsets.
What exactly does that mean and why do I think it matters today? Well, to me it means our kids have a genuine curiosity about the world and a respect for those who are different - those from other cultures, those with different beliefs, those whose values may not be exactly the same, etc. And this curiosity and respect doesn't just apply to people from other nations. It applies equally to those living around us. Fellow Americans. After all, have you looked around recently? Almost no matter where you live in the United States today, you will find multiple races, religions and cultures. And, while I understand many Americans are struggling with the statistics that indicate our population will get even more diverse in the decades ahead, I for one feel this is and must continue to be one of our greatest assets.
So, building children who are "at home" with classmates and teachers (and later colleagues or teammates) be they Hispanic, African, Asian, etc., is critical. It's critical for them to succeed in America and for America to continue to be successful in the world. Think about it - everything from business to ballet has gone global. How can we build our kids for success if we keep them isolated from the rest of the world?
And the time to build this mindset is when they are young - before negative stereo types and biases have been engrained. Because we do that to our children -with what we say, what we do, what we let them watch. They aren't born biased. It has to be learned. So I say, let's not teach our kids that. Instead, let's teach them to embrace the world and all the variety therein. For their sake and for the sake of others.
The problems we face today are complex, entrenched and will not be solved overnight. And the only solutions to those problems will involve empathy, compromise and broad engagement. Whether we're talking about health care or nuclear disarmament. Being able to understand and work with a broad cross section of people will be key to success on virtually every issue and in virtually every career in the future.
So, if you agree with my premise about the need for an open, global mindset, what do you do? The good news is that building this global mindset is easier than ever. I won't try to list all the things you can do here because - conveniently - I recently met a woman who shares my point of view and has just written a book for parents who are interested in this idea. It's called "Growing up Global" and it's by Homa S. Tavangar. (Let me make clear here that I had never met Homa until a couple months ago and I have no financial stake in her book's success so my praise is genuine not commercially motivated). The book came out just a few months ago. I loved it as soon as I read it. Why? Because it's a book that everyone - and yes I mean everyone - can use. Because it doesn't just contain ideas like foreign travel or foreign language lessons - things that take money and time many people don't have.
Instead, while those things are in there, this book also has literally hundreds of ideas that every mom (or dad) can do. Many from right in your own home. Many for free. So, really, what's our excuse? I say, let's stop fretting about all the things we may want to be able to provide for our kids but can't right now and start doing something that is important, timely and totally doable. Let's help ensure our kids will always be at home in the world. Let's all start today!
Follow Perry Yeatman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@perryyeatman