It Takes a Village. How Parenting Around The World Differs.

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

You’ve read all the parenting books. You regularly attended parenting classes. You are an active member on your child’s PTA. You’ve watched Super Nanny a hundred times, so you consider yourself a well-informed and conscientious parent. But have you ever considered that perhaps despite there being certain universals when it comes to raising kids: A child needs proper amounts of sleep, food, and nurturing to bloom. But how we, as parents, meet those necessities varies wildly depending on where we live. Parenting styles differ greatly around the world. Some global parenting practices may make you cringe, but other, perhaps, deserve a closer look.

Less is More

Children spend much less time in school in other countries. In the Finnish model of education, children do not begin any formal learning until they are 7 years old. Schools provide frequent & long breaks for outdoor time (as often as every 45 minutes throughout the day), shorter school hours and more variety of topics than children in the U.K are provided with. Equity, not high achievement, is the guiding dogma in Finnish schools. While we in the U.K seem to be eating into play time to teach more formal academics and cutting funding to subjects like art and music. Finnish educators emphasise that learning art, music, home economics and life skills is essential.

It takes a village.

Parents in countries from Spain to Greece to India to Italy, believe that children are best off when others help raise them—the extended family, friends or community. In Brazil, for example, it is not uncommon for several generations of a family—parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins—to live together in separate but adjoining homes or on separate floors of the same home. Brazilian culture puts great emphasis on extended family ties. This makes it easier & perfectly natural for parents to tap into “the village” to help raise their children.

We live increasingly further away from our families than a generation ago so have lost that ‘it takes a family’ mentality fearing criticism from others, not support.

 Allowing children to wait

In Korea, eating is taught to children as a life skill. As in many cultures, children are taught that food is best when enjoyed as a shared experience. Children in Korea are taught the value of waiting until it is time for the whole family to sit down and eat together.  It teaches delayed gratification, stops ‘grazing’ and helps cut down on obesity due to too many snacks. Another great thing is that children eat the same things that adults do, so as a result, Korean children are incredibly good eaters & don’t suffer the ‘fussy food syndrome’

Spoiling” children is a concept that doesn’t exist in other cultures.

Children take care of children.

In the Polynesian Islands, adults take the lead in caring for children , but as soon as they are able to walk, babies are turned over to the care of other children. Toddlers become self-reliant much sooner than they do in the U.K because they learn that is the only way they are able to hang out with the older kids. It also teaches responsibility and capability to, the older siblings too.

Staying at home is not an option.

In Norway, everyone works. Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so parents can’t afford to stay home. As a result, there is no “playground culture.” There are minimal kids’ activities, few children’s museums, no playgroups, no “mummy and me” classes. Childhood is very institutionalised. When children turn one year old, they enter Barnehage (Norwegian for “children’s garden”), state-subsidised day care. Parents pay a small amount each month, and children are cared for from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m

Parenting is about guiding, teaching, nurturing, supporting & loving unconditionally – & in my opinion children spell love T-I-M-E wherever they live in the world.

Thanks to Shannon Ralph from The Next Family.

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