As parents, we are always looking for ways to educate our children, whether it is at home or through our travels. Never did I think that my children would be able to teach me anything. I was wrong. After many trips I look back and see how much my children showed me on our journeys and I wonder, who is the teacher and who is the student these days? It starts early too. By the time a baby is crawling or walking they see more of the world than their parents ever could. The important thing is to let your children teach you and here is how.
Parents need an endless supply of patience, but you need to learn how to have even more when you travel, and here’s why. Your kids want to explore the places you visit. They don’t just want to hit the highlights in your guidebook. They want to know why the electrical outlets look different, meet the person in the kitchen making their food, swim in every pool (and sometimes fountain) they come across and finish listening to the audio guide they were given at the castle. Allow your child to have the time they need to get what they want out of a place, and take that time to see something more as well. Ask your child about what they are seeing. Why does he or she find it so fascinating? If this means you can’t go to as many sights during your trip, it will be OK. It is more important for you to let your child show you the world than for you to see every square inch of it.
Throw most kids onto any playground, park or other location where other kids are gathered, and you will see the true meaning of friendship and international relations. My oldest son, who can’t stand not to have a buddy to play with, can find a friend in any country, no matter the language barrier. Kids relate through play, as well they should. Running, kicking a ball, and hanging on the monkey bars doesn’t take a masters degree in a second language. All it takes is an open mind and heart. This is the time when parents should be smiling at the other parents on the playground. Practice your Spanish, or whatever language they speak in the country you visit. If your child can make a friend with their child, you might as well try to say hello.
How To Really See A Place
By the time my son was 14 months old he was showing me his view of the world. It was so much lower than mine. I had no idea there was so much to see. As we slowly walked down the street in Hong Kong, hand in hand, he would stop and point at the ground. At first I thought he was just looking at trash, but no, he had found a tiny alter tucked into the side of a building. Most adults would never think to look there for anything but a downspout, but my son found a little something extra that day. Your children find things you don’t see all of the time. They are literally at a different level than you, at least until they become teenagers. Take the time to stop and see the world from their vantage point. You never know what you will see together.
What lessons have your kids taught you?
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