woman and man seated in a park with baby carriage in background

Photography By Nicholas Jones

The secret to raising socially responsible children

GTA parents share their top tips for informing kids and teaching them how to give back

How best to help kids navigate the emotionally charged, 24-hour-news-powered world of today? There’s a lot to take in and it can be overwhelming, even for adults. But to make the best choices, kids need to be informed—and they need to be given the grounding and the tools that will help them make change for the better.

“It’s important to raise socially responsible kids because growing an awareness of lives outside of their own, both in their community and in society in general, helps them connect more deeply and empathetically with the struggles and joys of day-to-day living,” say Emily and Sarfaraz, who live in Toronto with their five-year-old and two-year-old. A pretty good point. And so we asked them, and other local parents, the question: How do you raise socially responsible kids who understand the value of giving back? Here’s what they said.

Man with glasses blue sweater grey jacket standing in alley

“You have to be open with kids about what’s going on in the larger world. When you’re the one talking to them, you can answer their questions and have a say in framing their understanding of important issues. If we don’t raise socially conscious children, then we put the world in more danger than it’s already in—and I want my kids to grow up thinking we need to try to put stuff right.”
– Gavin, parent of four children aged 15, 13 and 11-year-old twins

Woman in glasses and blue scarf brown coat standing on Bloor street

“I encourage my kids to be socially responsible by setting an example for them. I’ve volunteered for the Jays Care foundation and I donate to both the Sick Kids Foundation the Daily Bread Food Bank. Daily Bread in particular is close to my heart—I’ve often thought that, if things ever got really rough, I might be in a situation where I needed to go to the food bank. And, instead of buying Christmas presents every year, we research charities that could use our support. My hope is that if I model this for them now, they’re going to take it and run with it when they have jobs of their own. I’ve shown them that it feels good to give, and they seem to really enjoy it.”
– Killi, parent of three children ages 22, 18 and 14

Man with glasses wearing black suit and charcoal shirt

“It’s a lot easier to get your kids to give back to causes related to something they’re already interested in. It was through their involvement with Girl Guides and Boy Scouts that my kids first saw what it means to support the community, and then their interests helped them find where they wanted to help out. My son enjoys sports, so he gets involved with sports in the community through coaching. My daughter is closer to her Estonian cultural roots, so she volunteers with folk dancing and cultural events.”
– Jack, parent of two children ages 22 and 18

woman and man seated in a park with baby carriage in background

“Between two young children and work, the time we have right now for volunteering is limited. For now, we talk about the concept of volunteering a lot with the kids, using their grandfather as an example as he volunteers much of his time at his mosque. Both kids are becoming more aware that time and service to others is a value in our family. We feel it’s important to raise our kids to be grateful for the life they have and to be aware that not everyone has the same luck they do. As they get older, we hope to help them recognize their privilege and guide them in giving back to their communities and causes. We want to ask them how they want to make the world a better place and help them discover ways they can make that happen.”

– Emily and Sarfaraz, parents of two children ages five and two

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