Raising Kids to Make Sense of This Diverse and Connected World

Start today: Three tips on raising tiny global citizens

By Lindsey Rickard, StrollerTraffic Associate Editor January 16, 2019

Today’s parents have more resources at their fingertips than ever before — hello, smartphone! — but we’re also tasked with a big responsibility: raising little minds to make sense of a complex, diverse, and connected world. 

When all your parenting energy is going to convincing them to eat veggies, helping them learn to sleep through the night, and basically surviving, how do you make learning the importance of global citizenship a priority? It’s easier than you might think … and you’re probably already off to a good start!

1. Hit the pavement (and the food blogs).

When it comes to cultural understanding, nothing compares to hands-on experience. Let your child see, smell, hear, and experience the different cultures in their very own ‘hoods. 

It’s one thing to see something in the pages of a well-illustrated book. It’s an entirely different experience when it’s happening down the street. Find nearby festivals and other cultural celebrations. Your family will learn a thing or two about different cultures and your own community.

Perhaps the best way to bring a new culture into your own home is through the kitchen! Experiment with different recipes, spices, and flavors. Call the food by its proper name, then explain what it is and where it comes from. Food and a story? Pure parenting gold!

When you travel, make the experience as much of an immersion as possible. Rent an apartment over staying at an all-inclusive. Take a break from the usual tourist destinations. Explore the area on your own or find a culture-based excursion. Because nothing is quite as Insta-worthy as a toddler taking a Balinese dance lesson.

2. Make teaching inclusivity and kindness part of your parenting strategy.

Encourage curiosity, empathy, flexibility, and independence in daily routines. When the “he stole my truck” playground dispute erupts (#beenthere), use it as a teachable moment on kindness and inclusivity. If questions about skin color, gender identity, or language arise, be frank and honest with your answers and let your child’s curiosity guide the conversation. 

3. Make their little world as big and diverse as the world around them. 

At home, fill the nursery and playroom with diverse dolls and toys, books that celebrate differences, and music from other cultures. 

Holidays are a great way to give context to cultures. Who doesn’t love a party? Incorporate traditions from other cultures into your own holiday celebrations, or celebrate a new holiday ... and watch the learning and memory-making ensue.  

Once you start on the playgroup circuit, encourage cross-cultural and cross-gender friendships. Seek out schools that are intentional with their cultural education and make learning a second language a priority.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

StrollerTraffic is written for moms with kids under 3. Find must-read info, recommendations, and the scoop on what's new for little ones discovered by a been-there-done-that mom or touted by a bona fide expert at There's also not-to-be-missed swag giveaways. Find StrollerTraffic on Facebook and sign up for free.