Discover how you can raise your kids to change the world

Learn how to nurture passion and compassion in your kids so they will be inspired to make the world a better place.

By Marc and Craig Kielburger and Shelley Page

Discover how you can raise your kids to change the world
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Here’s a childhood story we would like to share with you. When Marc was about 11, our mom (a teacher) picked him up at school to take him to tennis practice. En route she made a pit stop at a discount store that sold the kind of no-name clothing that sends self-conscious teens running. One minute Marc was sitting contentedly beside Mom in the car, the next he’d slipped down to hide below the dashboard. The store was near school, so he was worried he’d be spotted by classmates.

Mom was taken aback. She let him stay in the car but says, “It was hard to concentrate on my shopping. My son was turning into a snob.” The outing embarrassed Marc and worried Mom, who fretted she was raising a spoiled and entitled teen.

Shortly after that incident, life changed at our house. Mom was eager for Marc to see that we were very lucky. She dragged him along when she went to see the immigrant families whom she supported with small gifts and acts of kindness.

Teaching children how easy it is to make a difference
One of these homes belonged to the Chan family from Hong Kong. Mrs. Chan had a girl and three boys, and her daughter was in Mom’s class at school. Aware that they were struggling, Mom got to know the family and did what she could. From time to time, the Chans joined us for dinner and on family outings. We took them gifts at Christmas, likely the only ones they received.

One Christmas, Mom asked Marc to accompany her on the gift run. The Chans lived in a run-down building in Toronto, the kind where the elevators stink of urine. The family’s two-bedroom apartment was dingy. It was a world away from our comfortable bungalow. Marc was uncomfortable. He thought the plan was to drop off the presents and be gone.

But as he sat there he started to pay closer attention. He noticed that the children were in their fanciest clothing and on their best behaviour. The cookies before him were clearly a luxury. It dawned on him that the visit that seemed meaningless to him was of great importance to Mrs. Chan.

Mom presented the gifts, which were accepted gratefully. Then Mrs. Chan handed a small present to Marc. “You are our best friends,” she said in broken English. “And best friends are so important to us. Thank you.” The words, which Marc will never forget, cut through his cool veneer. He realized Mom’s kindness, time and caring meant the world to these isolated and impoverished newcomers. He marvelled at how easy it had been to make a difference.

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