10 Ways For You And Your Children To Make The World A Better Place

Brainstorm with your family to find ways that you can help to make the world a better place. Here is a list to help you get started.

It can be difficult, as a family, not to become swept up in consumer culture. Millions of Americans are in debt, and many of us have lost touch with our communities, as well as experiencing a loss of perspective about our privileged lifestyle. It is a benefit to ourselves, our children and society at large to think of ways that we can participate in our world to make it a better place.

1. Volunteer to mentor a refugee family. Many cities have refugee assistance programs that you can sign up with. Tell the agency that you would like to volunteer with your children, and they can match you with a family that also has children. Your children get the benefit of learning about other cultures and lifestyles, as well as a different perspective on their own lives. After working with refugees, children are less likely to whine about not having the "right" clothes, etc. Although these things may still be important, they will no longer hold the place that they once did in the children's consciousness. Volunteering with your children will also help the refugee family to more easily integrate with their children into our society. It is an enriching experience for all concerned.

2. Participate in community clean-up days. While picking up trash and debris, you and your children will be working to improve the environment while meeting like-minded people. Any chance you have to expose your children to other families who share the same values is an opportunity worth taking.

3. As a family, examine what you buy and the impact that it makes on the earth. Learn about the companies that you buy from as well, and how they treat their workers. This becomes a valuable social studies lesson, and raises everyone's consciousness about the world we live in. The next time you go shopping with your kids, discuss whether or not you really need the object, and if it worth the cost to the family and to the environment, and if it is in alignment with the family's values. This also applies to eating out at fast food chains as well.

4. Take a family vacation where you volunteer to help build a house in Central America, or assist in an environmental clean-up. Your children will get to see how people in other cultures live, and have the satisfaction that comes from helping others.

5. Choose not to eat meat and animal products that come from factory farming. Instead, take your children to the local farmer's market and buy free-range meat and dairy products as well as organically grown vegetables.

6. Recycle together. Teach your children which materials can be recycled, and what happens to them after they arrive at the recycling center.

7. Be a good neighbor. When a neighbor is ill, or someone new moves to the neighborhood, participate in the traditional practice of bringing over a homemade dinner and introducing yourselves. You help to build community this way. Additionally, you and your children can participate in your neighborhood watch program, or your neighborhood association, both of which often hold meetings and events. It is a great way to get to know people and to participate in making your neighborhood a safer place to live.

8. Buy some cookies and put them into bags to store in your car. When you are driving around with the children doing errands and see a homeless person, give anyone who is soliciting money some cookies. This provides an excellent model for your children about how we should treat all people as human beings deserving of eye contact and conversation. Of course you will want to reinforce that children are not to talk to strangers, but add that it is okay if Mommy or Daddy is present. If you feel comfortable giving money or something else, by all means do so. The important thing is that your children learn to respect all of humanity.

9. Teach your children to write thank you notes. This is fast becoming a lost art, and is a social skill that will help your children become successful in their dealings with others in life. It is always good to teach an attitude of thankfulness. Talk about how good it makes the person who gave the gift feel to receive a handwritten, personalized note.

10. Walk places together. Not only will you use less gas, thus making it easier on the environment, but also you'll become more familiar with your neighborhood and the individuals in it. You will have more time to spend with your child talking, and children have a way of making you notice things such as perfect spider webs and so on, that you might otherwise overlook. You are also teaching them that driving is not the solution to every trip in the neighborhood, thus modeling conservation.

Each family has different values and may feel comfortable doing some of these things, but not others. This is simply a list of ideas to get you started. What can you and your children do to make your world a better, kinder, safer place?

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