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Parenting Practices Around the World: Why Are We So Different?

You know the handful of times when you had to run into a store or drop something off and doing so would only take you seconds, but because you had your child in the car it ended up taking 15 minutes? It’s crazy how all of that extra time is dedicated to just getting the kid out of the car! As moms, we’ve all been there and we all know the millions of steps it takes to just get our kids out of our vehicles and back in again. Think of all the times you wanted to run in and grab a coffee or mail a package, but because you had a kid in tow you either decided not to because it was too much of a hassle or your simply couldn’t because of their mere presence. Well, we should all move to Denmark because parents leave their babies in their strollers on the sidewalk while they shop and eat!!!

Photo from Emily Lodish’s article “Global Parenting Habits That Haven't Caught On In The U.S.”
Photo from Emily Lodish’s article “Global Parenting Habits That Haven’t Caught On In The U.S.”

Can you imagine?!?! Not only is this completely frowned upon in American, but you risk Child Protective Services being called which could mean going to jail and/or having your child taken away from you! According to Emily Lodish’s article “Global Parenting Habits That Haven’t Caught On In The U.S.” we (Americans) are very protective of our children. Here’s a quick list from the article of the parenting practices we do not follow, but other countries embrace.

  • In Norway, kids nap outside even in subzero temperatures
  • Vietnamese parents potty-train their babies by 9 months
  • Traditionally, Kisii people in Kenya avoid looking their babies in the eye
  • Danish parents leave their kids on the curb while they go shopping
  • In the Polynesian Islands, children take care of children
  • Japanese parents let their kids go out by themselves
  • Spanish kids stay up late
  • Aka pygmy fathers win the award – male and female roles are interchangeable
  • French kids eat everything

Was your reaction to this list something like, “What?! No. Really? Are they serious? You’ve got to be kidding me? How’s that possible?” Yeah, same as mine. It’s amazing how different we are. I’m so used to our socially acceptable practices that it never occurred to me that other cultures might be doing the opposite with their children. What would life be like if our kids were potty trained at nine months? What if we left them outside on the sidewalk while we sat inside a café? Or, we allowed our seven year olds to ride the subway alone? Gasp! It’s really hard to imagine. Well, maybe not the potty training at nine months. I’d be down for that! All kidding aside, why is it acceptable in Denmark to leave your child on a sidewalk while you are inside eating or shopping and it’s child abuse/neglect in America? Why are things so drastically different? As Americans are we more afraid, uptight? Are we smarter, safer? I don’t have these answers, but this piece really got me thinking about things that are socially acceptable versus things that are neglectful, etc. Check out the full article. What do you think?




About Jessica Grundy

Jessica Grundy
Jessica Grundy grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but moved out west when she was 12 years old. She attended Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nevada, and received her communications degree from University of Nevada, Reno. She also studied abroad in London, England. Since 2008 she has lived in Carson City with her husband, Jason, a Carson City native. The apples of her eye are son, Chase, and daughter, Elle. Jessica went back to work in April 2014 after taking two years off to be at home with her kids, so when she's not busy working fulltime or being a mom, she likes to get outdoors. She wishes there was more time for reading and travelling though. On the weekends you can most likely find her playing miniature golf, a favorite family activity.

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