Parenting with Intention: 3 Ways to Raise a Conscious Family
Our conscious kids today will become aware and motivated adults of tomorrow. When we show our kids how to live their values, we can change the world – because our actions show them how to shape the world.
Many parents want to give their kids the world – a healthy and prosperous world, that is. Future generations deserve to grow up with clean water and air, equal opportunities for education and work, and shared prosperity, so they can lead the lives they want.
Thinking even bigger, conscious parents want this for everyone, not just their own kids, because they know building strong communities can inspire change on a much larger scale. They understand that raising children to take action and advocate for the causes they care about can make a better world, now and in the years to come, and they raise their families to feel the same way.
This caring, community-minded spirit often begins right at home, by raising kids with lessons about how to be kind and compassionate.
“Whatever [children] see you do as a parent, they’re going to want to try,” writes blogger Hannah Whittenly. “So, if they see [you] recycling or helping the neighbor with their groceries, they’re going to get into the habit of thinking of others as well. … Your actions will speak a lot louder than your words will. When you cultivate community-minded habits, they’ll be more inclined to do the same.”
So, whether you’re already a parent or are planning to have kids someday, here are three ways of living your values, leading by example, and raising children that care about the world.
1. Think of the World They’ll Inherit
From reducing waste to considering the climate in our day-to-day lives, we can show our kids the connection between the health of our planet and our own well-being. And when kids understand how our everyday actions impact the world and each other, they become aware of how their choices can make a real difference.
There are so many ways our families can lead more sustainable lifestyles. To get started, we can all cut back on plastic with tips from the Green Education Foundation, like using reusable bags and containers, buying food from bulk bins at the supermarket, and opting for cloth diapers. We can choose non-toxic cleaning products that disclose their ingredients, so everyone can pitch in and clean in a healthy way.
For those of us with a yard, we can compost our food waste to boost our gardens. Even if we live in a city and don’t have much outdoor space, our families can still contribute: A municipal composting program might be willing to pick up our food scraps, for example.
And to cut our carbon footprint and promote a sustainable diet, we can go vegetarian one or several nights each week. The team over at Meatless Mondays has lots of good resources, including recipes, to make it easy for families raising children to eat “healthy, environmentally friendly” plant-based meals.
These are small yet powerful steps that are easy for kids to understand and participate in. And that’s the ultimate goal: We want to empower the next generation so they know their actions are meaningful, and inspire them do more.
Another way to help kids make meaningful choices? We can be open and honest about money.
2. Teach Kids about Money
Teaching your kids about money and showing how your family handles the finances can help in raising kids to develop good money behaviors from a young age. According to a study from the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC), financial literacy is an “important determinant of wealth and wealth inequality … [and] up to 40% of U.S. retirement wealth inequality can be attributed to difference in financial knowledge.” This means that people who understand personal finances are in a better position to build safe and secure futures. At the same time, it means that what we don’t know about money can actually hold us back. Knowledge, especially about money, is power.
So, how can teaching your kids about money help them understand finances and be comfortable making money decisions? According to Fast Company, it’s all about knowing what’s age-appropriate and what our kids can handle. For example, we can set our kids up with chores and an allowance, help them open a kids savings account, or tie financial lessons into routine activities like grocery shopping. We can introduce the concept of voting with our dollars to show good spending habits that focus on sustainable products and practices. And in some cases, like going over monthly bills or planning a trip, we can even involve the kids in making budget decisions. This gives them an early glimpse into what things actually cost, helps them understand needs versus wants, and how their money choices can impact what they’re able to do now and in the future.
Additionally, we can all aim to keep money lessons gender-neutral, and even encourage our daughters to get more familiar with money. Research shows that parents teach boys more about money than girls, and down the line, this can contribute to gender equality issues like gaps in earnings and retirement savings, and women having anxiety over money decisions. When raising children, let’s change that, and ensure our girls have the knowledge they need to feel confident with their personal finances. (If you need help getting started, A Mighty Girl has a great list of 30 resources to teach kids financial literacy.)
By teaching kids about money early and often, in a gender-neutral way, we provide meaningful life lessons that may help put a stop to future financial inequality. When we teach our daughters about saving and investing, for example, they’ll understand from an early age how to start building their financial futures. Similarly, when our sons see both parents preparing their taxes, they’ll know money is a shared responsibility at home. As we continue to teach our kids about personal finances, we’ll help them build positive lifelong relationships with money that can set them up for success.
So, we see that being open about finances can help raise conscious kids. Now, let’s talk about increasing kids’ overall awareness, so they understand their own power as engaged citizens.
3. Participate Together
We can show our kids that their decisions matter, in ways both large and small, and that every choice has the potential for positive impact.
Our kids can learn the building blocks of a happy life from us: how to be kind and compassionate, stay healthy, create strong and caring relationships, pursue meaningful work, and give back to the community.
For example, when our kids see us going to the doctor and dentist, and understand why they have to go as well, they can make the connections between regular checkups and their own better health. We can bring our kids to Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, so they can see what gender equality can mean in the workplace. We can take the family to volunteer, from blood drives to local cleanups, and our kids can feel good about doing good works.
“Children are like sponges,” says Rose Erickson, a parenting and finance writer, on Livestrong.com. “They model everything a parent does and incorporate what they see into their own lives.” So, by showing how to actively take part in our families and communities, we can inspire the next generation to be participants, too.
And this inspiration can be everything, because raising kids to be conscious today will help them become aware and motivated adults of tomorrow. When we show our kids how to live their values, we can change the world – because our actions show them how to shape the world.