By Kristin Littrell, CFCA correspondent
Small changes, big impact
Sometimes when we imagine the people we want our kids (or ourselves!) to become, it can feel paralyzing. How do we get there exactly?
Although it may sound clichÈ, I do think we become a sum of our days. We all know that the old Chinese proverb is true: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.”
Sometimes small changes, casually sprinkled into daily life, really can take root in our kids’ lives, and our own.
The map on our table
Every morning, noon and night, our preschooler perches at our dining room table, her brightly colored world-map place mat catching her many drips and spills.
I bought the place mat on a whim one day when she was just an infant. It seemed silly at the time to buy a place mat for a child that wasn’t even eating solid food yet, but it wasn’t.
As I’ve said before, I want our kids to have a global worldview, and this was a tiny step in that direction.
Quickly, my infant become a toddler, gave up the high chair, and started making milk-puddle messes at every meal. So I pulled out the place mat. For months, it was just something to protect our dining room table ñ nothing more.
But then my parents took a European vacation and over breakfast one morning, they showed my daughter the country they visited on her place mat. And it clicked for her. She proudly identified that country every day for weeks.
Then other family members traveled, and we learned that we have friends moving to Ethiopia, so she added those destinations to her repertoire of countries identified on the map.
Slowly it snowballed, one country after the next.
Her world-map place mat became her pride and joy. When friends came over to play, she eagerly showed them these countries, and told them the personal stories behind each one.
As I listened to her, it was hard not to catch her enthusiasm for the world at large.
Her tiny voice would practically scream, “Did you know this is England? And this is Ethiopia? Our friends are moving there … ”
It was like she was saying to her friends, “Did you know that this ñ our neighborhood, our city, our state – isn’t all there is?”
She was filled with possibility, with adventure, with a dream for what is out there. Is there anything better?
The map serves to expand her reality, gradually teaching her that there’s a whole world out there, where people live, and work, and play. A world just waiting to be explored, and people waiting to be loved.
All of that, from a simple place mat.
We hope this interest in the world will later translate to a desire to make the world a better place.
A Harris Interactive poll states that only one in four Americans believe that they bear “some responsibility to create a better world.”
If that’s true, then we’re going to need some world-changers.
Developing a global worldview doesn’t have to be daunting, or all-consuming. You could start with a place mat, like we did, or something else that works for you or your family.
Maybe you choose to decorate with a globe or map, or you start reading the tag on your clothing to find out where it was made. Small steps often lead to bigger changes in the heart and the mind, which is really what matters most.
How do you stay mindful of the larger world around you? Please share your ideas with us!
(If you’re looking for a world-map place mat, a quick Amazon search for “world-map place mat” yields several inexpensive options.)