I say Africa, but I mean any non financially privileged place…
It means these children will be rich in gratitude; the opposite of spoiled. Can’t afford less. They will have adaptability in a variety of circumstances, higher capacity to function effectively in situations mono-cultural children may find unbearable. These individuals won’t have time for one-dimensional, self focused thinking, obsessions or addictions. Irrational anxiety, panic and chronic stress become luxury problems we can’t afford unless the situation truly warrants it. Mostly, coping with any kind of discomfort in Africa will require consistent, real interaction with other people. I keep reading how healthy community happens to be a strong cure for many pathologies.
2) Social responsibility.
This is something we can afford not to have here in North America to some extent. We might think we have close friendships/marriages… compared to what, though? What is actually possible vs what we have settled for? Interactions in North America are more professional and surface, because that’s all that is required to exist. This gets us lots of money. But financially poor places have a naturally deeper understanding of community and compassion for one another. This is because if poor societies don’t have a strong connection, they die. Literally, they starve and/or kill each other. Their basic needs depend upon intense connections; our basic needs can afford intense isolation. Growing up in African culture teaches a respect for others, and respect for the provider. In the “developed” countries where saying “hi” to a stranger is considered suspicious or awkward, acknowledgement is expected in Africa. Moreover, the extremely poor would not fight for their right to abort a child; children are their wealth.
3) Bilingual and sometimes multilingual opportunity.
Naturally, children will learn languages through daily exposure in a place like Africa, and this will fling open the doors to international career opportunities, relationships, vision. They will have a sensitivity and respect for cultures of all types. How hard is it to learn a new language fully in a predominantly English-speaking place? Use it or lose it.
4) Global awareness.
Beyond geography, children will grow to understand there is more than one way to look at an experience, concept, situation, solution, group of people. Although those in homogenous cultures may find this new perspective offensive, its education system is extremely relevant and multi-dimensional. For example, things not taught in “developed world” high-schools: how to grow your own food, how to build a house, how to raise livestock, how to find/get/maintain clean water supply, basic auto mechanics, etc. Yet we send our babies over there just to help them, not realizing that we are the ones who need serious help.
5) Cultural-free identity.
This means generations can define themselves by more than the trends and expectations of the culture in which they grow up. While they haven’t been bombarded by any single culture, they may have more of an opportunity to adopt a “kingdom culture”. Google it for fun! Without a kingdom culture, children raised overseas may feel pain related to feeling no patriotic sameness with any one nationality. Therefore, if you’re hardcore “I am a Canadian citizen and will die for it”, raising kids in Africa just might not be for you! I, for one, am willing to risk that. If one knows who they are, it doesn’t matter where in the world they live, but learning this asap is essential. Cultural belonging and attachment do not have to pose a threat to an individual who is secure in their original identity.
6) Respect for Authority.
Unlike patterns in North America, studies have shown that children raised in economically poor countries have a greater respect for authority, interestingly enough. Go look this up, don’t take my word for it. While this makes children more vulnerable to corrupt leaders, it also gives them ability to succeed in relationships; playing well with others, fully accepting those who are a bit (or a lot) different from themselves. It also means they might have a better marriage and family quality since they can actually submit to one another in healthy ego-flexible ways.
Bonus Point: it won’t be just YOU battling the boundary lines of your children’s attractions, because in Africa: a) Counterfeits and addictions are not as competitive there! And b) You would have a highly involved community!
The food will be unprocessed, and health will be a more precious resource. Thankfulness will bloom as a natural by-product of having rice and beans for the thousandth time instead of pesticide pumped hormone injected fries, nuggets and a cup of monsanto. You won’t need to spend excess amounts on organic fair trade antibiotic-free whole foods. Many markets in Africa have huge produce; i.e avocados, for like…25 cents. Moreover children won’t have the luxury of feeling too invincible sexually, as medical risks are high and resources are scant in places like Africa. For example, pornography and sexual reassignment surgery is in fairly low demand there. They simply have other priorities to think about. It would take an impressively organized and massive effort to maintain a food or drug addiction either. Children learn quickly what is safe vs unsafe physically, and are more resilient than we think. Besides, if you’re really sickly, you’re sure to be air med evac’d. If little ol me survived, so can you.
8) The poor want help.
They’ll take anything they can get. They won’t spit on your offer of food. They’re desperate. They rarely have pride, they always want prayer, food, water, basic needs met. They don’t minimize their problems, they’re just hungry. This is a huge difference between even the poor in North America vs the extremely impoverished. I’ve seen it first hand, repeatedly. But don’t take my word for it, go see.
9) Weather is better there.
This is entirely personal, but I prefer not to be even slightly cold. Ever. I’m even cold right now, typing this. Also the beautiful stunning landscapes, glittering sand, exotic wildlife, beaches, amazing music. Not that we don’t have a beautiful landscape here, mind you. Truly, it can get up to 120 degrees some days in Africa. But again, I’d rather take THAT kind of heat…
10) Safety from harm.
Which place is “safer”, North America, or Africa, for example? You be the judge.
Bottom line is, (and please don’t get offended) if you choose to raise kids in North America, it may be physically secured and comfy, but it is a spiritual minefield. In Africa, the physical risk is higher, but spiritual clarity means extreme production, growth and stability. (i.e. For starters, you can say the name of Jesus right out in public and not feel like you’re offending anyone). Most people with kids are pretty rooted here. It just means you better be on top of fighting for your offspring tooth and nail, every second. Warring for them in prayer too, don’t blink. They must be your full time job, even within an “air-tight” church pocket. If you don’t do this, someone else will gladly (and aggressively) evangelize them into another belief system of “freedom” (chains); i.e the common self=god religion of Atheism.
This might not sound super positive but it’s reality. And breakthrough doesn’t usually sustain itself by taking short trips overseas. There needs to be a learning process over a long period of time. And the younger we are moved, the better.
I’ve seen a lot of clients over the past few years here in Canada.
I say that to say this: some patterns have emerged. I started writing down some words that seem to come up repeatedly in sessions. After much consideration, the problems brought up might be a bit too overwhelmingly negative to publish on sensitive public media, therefore I’ve figured out the opposite of each word and strung them into a paragraph:
Safe schooled, champion mentality, authentic community, transcendent peace, original identity, relationally healthy, humility perspective, sexuality honoring, genuinely content, God-loving, Spirit-filled, morality protecting, compassion inducing, spiritually hungry, honestly married, organically grown, nutrient rich, super natural, pro life, responsible, generous, pure, kind, inclusive, intimate, fulfilled, sober, hopeful, humanizing, resilient, trustworthy …culture.
Now that sounds like a great place to live……