We all want the same things in life—healthy relationships, to feel safe and the opportunity to determine our futures. Unfortunately, we know not everyone experiences these building blocks of life.  

While much progress has been made to reduce poverty worldwide, nearly half of the world’s population still struggles to meet their basic needs. * And now, because of the trickle-down economic shocks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation is worsening for millions as they slip back into poverty, reversing decades of improvement. 

As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children to look outward and consider the needs of others—as we hope others would do the same for our children. And as Christians, we are obligated to not shut our eyes to the world’s injustice, instead “caring for the least of these” as our faith calls us to do.  

I believe when we fulfil this call in our homes, the results don’t stay there but reverberate into the world to create a fairer, more just future for everyone.  

So, how can we, as parents, teach our kids about poverty? Here are a few ideas to get you started on your journey—no plane ticket required. 

1. Face the facts  

Start a conversation by drawing comparisons on the experiences of an average child in New Zealand and those living in extreme poverty.  

For example, does your child know that one-in-five children in New Zealand do not have enough food, but in Rwanda, it is four-in-five? Or that the average Kiwi earns $251.20 a day, but the world’s poorest only earn $2.84 a day? 

Helping your children grapple with the hard facts can help them get fired up to make a difference. 

2. Make it practical 

It’s one thing to know the facts, and another entirely to experience it.  

In a country like New Zealand where food choices are abundant, why not challenge yourselves as a family to eat only rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Talk about what the experience is like of having less than you desire, or not having as many choices. 

Or commit to a day without electricity—a luxury we take for granted. Talk about the difficulties of doing homework by candlelight or taking an ice-cold shower.  

These experiences help kids grow to understand the challenges of children elsewhere and the privileges they hold.  

3. Make it personal 

We all know the feeling when our child reaches a new milestone. We beam with pride and assume they have received a spark of genius!  

Us parents are naturally proud of our kids—as we should be. But we need to be careful to not inflate their sense of importance that they start to believe they are more important than others.  

I intentionally remind my children that they are neither more important than the next person, and no person is more important than them. It's a valuable reminder that every person is created with equal value in the eyes of God, even if the world has not treated them equally. 

4. Empower them to act 

I have seen through my work and in parenting my kids, that children have a deep desire to matter and to make a difference. And frankly, the world needs them to. Age-appropriate service opportunities empower kids to do just that. 

Brainstorm ways you can tackle poverty as a family. Maybe you can volunteer at a local food bank or animal shelter. Challenge your children to give a portion of their pocket money to a good cause. Or have them come up with a fundraising idea they can do themselves, like a lemonade stand, bake sale, or 5k run. 

You can also consider sponsoring a child as a family. Through sponsorship, your child is matched with a child overseas and experiences the world through the power of friendship while helping a child in need to have food and clean water, healthcare and education. 

Whatever you do as a family to start nurturing global minds and generous hearts at home, will surely have ripple effects beyond what we think is possible. 

We’ve created a free resource for families with tools and conversation-starters to help you make a difference together. 

*The World Bank, 2018 
 

Global Minds, Generous Hearts Family Activity Pack
 

 

 

 

Download your free copy


Related posts

Why you should support a Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand

Why you should support a Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand

Tuesday, 17 May 2022 — Morgan Theakston

The New Zealand Government has proposed legislation to address modern slavery and worker exploitation in New Zealand and internationally. But what does this mean, what is proposed and how can you help? 

Read more

Why does New Zealand need a Modern Slavery Act?  

Why does New Zealand need a Modern Slavery Act?  

Wednesday, 20 April 2022 — Morgan Theakston

You may be wondering if modern slavery happens in New Zealand supply chains or just overseas. Will a Modern Slavery Act be a burden on businesses? Can legislation truly create change? We unpack these questions in this blog.
 

Read more

Ukraine Crisis: The view from Poland

Ukraine Crisis: The view from Poland

Thursday, 17 March 2022 — Medair

As millions of Ukrainian refugees flee to safety, Tearfund’s partner in Poland shares their heartbreaking stories and helps them adjust to life on the other side of the border. 
 

Read more

Three beautiful short stories of the church in action during Covid-19

Three beautiful short stories of the church in action during Covid-19

Tuesday, 08 February 2022 — Compassion International

From Colombia to Educador to Uganda, here are three short stories from our Compassion churches we hope will encourage you!

Read more

Former Kiwi cop combatting Thailand

Former Kiwi cop combatting Thailand's dark underworld

Thursday, 20 January 2022 — Grace Ellis

Matthew Valentine spent 14-years of his life as a detective with the New Zealand Police. Little did he know his passion for fighting crime would take him to the streets of Thailand working for an organisation fighting human trafficking.
 

Read more

I regularly give to Tearfund, so what?

I regularly give to Tearfund, so what?

Friday, 22 October 2021 — Carl Adams

Tearfund’s ministry is about creating positive impacts in people’s lives but this would not be possible without the generous support of Kiwis.  Your donation is not just about how much money gets to where it is needed, but the level of positive change it creates.  I want to present impact through the lens of stewardship, and asking the question: “so what?”

 

Read more

Why periods are no longer a red light

Why periods are no longer a red light

Monday, 11 October 2021 — Compassion International

Today is International Day of the Girl Child where we recognise the rights and unique challenges girls face globally. One of the many challenges they face is period poverty. Millions of girls in developing countries experience shame, confusion and even stigma and discrimination when they get their period. The good news is in Compassion centres around the world, girls are finding education, protection, empowerment, safe bathrooms and period supplies.

 

Read more

Show more