Parents, this article will:
- consider issues that arise when children aren’t exposed to other peoples and cultures
- how international travel can help allay these issues
We, kids especially, are products of our environment. This is evident in our accent and the slang we use. Sometimes, an accent and the using of colloquialisms aren’t the same even in a place an hour away from your home, because there, they too are products of their environment.
The less we move around and rub shoulders with people with other customs, skin color, ways of talking, the more our ways get into a rut and the more uncomfortable and inadaptable we are to other peoples and customs. This, in fact, can make a breeding ground for ignorance and prejudice. If you’ve never seen the way other people look, live and talk, you can’t help but be ignorant. And if you are raised having pride for your way of doing things, prejudice can develop when seeing ones who do things differently. No one in their right mind wants to see their children gradually develop prejudice or inability to accept other peoples or ways.
Counteracting the Development of Ignorance
Granted, parents can open their children’s eyes to other customs and people right from home through careful instruction. Many times, it is beyond the family’s means to fly the entire family across the world or to move abroad. If this is the case, perhaps there is a way locally your children can spend time with people from other countries, that look and act different then themselves. This exposure can do much in their mental development and acceptance of other peoples. If their friends are of a different race from childhood, this is a good thing.
Yet the impact sinks down better into the child’s heart when they go to another country. There, they find themselves the minority and the foreigner. Now they can relate to minorities they see in their home area. After seeing people having a “strange” way of doing things elsewhere, they may be less surprised and awkward around people with different customs, and with some parental reasoning, be helped to see that “our way” isn’t necessarily the only way, nor the best way.
Some parents are hesitant to take their children to another country because, naturally, they want the best for their children. The living conditions in most cases are not as cushy as their home country, and they don’t want their children to be without. This is a parental instinct, but sometimes, it can blind a parent to seeing what is really important for their children. This subject will be considered in How Kids Flourish Abroad.