PARENTING IN THE new fast-paced world is no longer just one parent’s role. As parents, we all want the best for our children. But defining what is best is only sometimes obvious.

My husband Sudeep and I grew up in India and moved to the Bay Area 18 years ago. We are constantly trying to evolve as parents as parenting itself, changes across the interlinked world.

Ten years ago, I first began conversations with my circle of mom friends about raising global children. Our discussions would always lead to how we could help our children thrive in a new world which is a rainbow of cultures. We live in diverse communities, we meet, interact and work with people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and customs, at our schools, educational institutions, grocery stores, and social events.

As parents, we want to empower our kids with the right tools and an inclusive mindset, to connect, appreciate, and interact with a variety of people.

The question is, how do we do it?

Understanding the global mindset

As immigrant parents, my husband Sudeep and I encourage our boys to accept all cultures wholeheartedly. We live in California’s most diverse zip code.

Sumiti and Sudeep Mehta with their sons Akshaj and Atiksh at Diwali (Courtesy Sumiti Mehta/India Currents)

Our sons Akshaj and Atiksh witness strong friendships among families from different backgrounds and cultures. We have learned from our friends whose backgrounds and experiences differ from ours. One takeaway is developing the self-awareness to be open to insights into the lives values of others.

It takes cultural sensitivity; the skill to understand diverse situations while being an empathetic team player; and the curiosity to enjoy the cultural diversity others offer.

Global parenting is a belief. I want my sons to understand multiple points of view. I’ve had open discussions with my boys about racism, privilege, responsibility, diversity, and inclusion, to help them learn to empathize with different people.  To me, helping them understand the significance of a diverse and inclusive society, can stop ignorance and hate from spreading. 

Empathy and a strong family culture

My sons are 17 and 11.They are are American citizens of Indian heritage. They are proud of being both.

Sudeep and I are mindful about inculcating an appreciation of their own rich Indian culture while teaching them accept the diversity they encounter in their schools and community.. 

Moving to the U.S. made my husband and me more conscious of the challenges that immigrants and minorities face. It’s important to acknowledge our kids’ experiences, feelings, and emotions of sadness, anger, and frustration when they feel lonely and disconnected. Empathy is an essential soft skill. As parents, we want our boys to recognize what others feel and how their actions can affect others in a larger world. A compassionate person can understand another person’s perspective. We love that our kids are experiencing many different nationalities and learning about their cultures from a young age.

Supporting global awareness in your community

Sumiti with the Community Engagement Initiative team (Courtesy Sumiti Mehta/India Currents)

As a minority woman and a parent, I believe in investing in in this perspective. I volunteered my time to talk about diversity at my children’s school and at other schools in districts.

Since 2019, a friend, Satty Kaur, and I have partnered with our school district’s Family Engagement Department to give presentations on Indian culture across our school district. We were invited to join the Community Engagement Initiative group. I always encourage my fellow parents to be parent ambassadors and connect to their child’s classrooms to share their culture. 

Kofi Annan once said, “I am often asked what can people do to become a good global citizen? I reply that it begins in your own community.”

About the author

Sumiti Mehta is the author of ‘A Campaign That Won Hearts and Not Votes.’ She served on Sacramento city’s YPCE Commission and is serving on several Natomas Unified School Committees. Mehta is also on OnCore Consulting’s staff as Recruiting and Proposal Writing Specialist.

This story originally appeared in India Currents.