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




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