Parenting Styles From Around the World That Would Raise Eyebrows in the US

Jodi Meltzer | Sep 4, 2014 Baby

US parents are overwhelmingly guilty -- even if they really don't have a reason to feel that way. They're scared something will happen to their kids. They hover, they stifle ... they hold hands too tightly, for too long. It's common criticism we hear from parents who raise children in other countries.

There's praise, too. US parents are creative, silly, loving, attentive ... but there may be some lessons worth learning if we open our minds. Here are 7 ways parents from around the world approach childhood differently.

Do you think the US could learn a thing or two from parents in different countries? What could they learn from us?


Image via © Michele Constantini/PhotoAlto/Corbis

  • Costa Ricans Co-Sleep

    1

    In Costa Rica, there are no nurseries or bedside cradles in public hospitals. After you recover from the delivery of your child, you will share a bed. "My husband, who is from the US, was surprised there were no nurses to whisk our daughter away after I gave birth so I could get a good night's rest during my hospital stay," Jeimy Hernandez, a native Costa Rican, explains. "Co-sleeping encourages the mother-child bond from the beginning. I wouldn't want it any other way."

  • Norwegian Kids Follow Protocol

    2

    In Norway, parenting is institutionalized. When a child turns 1, he or she is enrolled in Barnehage (Norwegian for “children’s garden”), which is a state-subsidized daycare that runs all day. A creative approach to parenting is frowned upon; the Norwegian way calls for the same style schooling, eating habits, and bedtimes. 

  • It Takes a Village in Israel

    3

    In Israel, the tight-knit community greatly influences families. The US mentality of MYOB parenting wouldn’t fly in Israel. "Everybody’s your kid’s parent," says Yael Shem Tov Sostiel, an Israeli mom now living in the US. "People will stop you on the street to offer helpful advice. Grandparents are also like second parents and spend a great deal of time nurturing their grandkids."

  • In Denmark, 'Me Time' Is Not Overrated

    4

    Danish parents leave their kids unattended to go shopping, have lunch, or hang out with friends. If you walk down the streets of Denmark, you will undoubtedly see kids outside waiting for their parents ... and no one looks twice (except Americans).

  • Terrible Two's Don't Exist in Guatemala

    5

    In a landmark studyPrivileged Treatment of Toddlers: Cultural Aspects of Individual Choice and Responsibility, researchers reported that San Pedro La Laguna moms do not report a sudden onset of negative behavior with their kids at age 2. Instead, they make a seamless transition from grabby toddler to cooperative child

  • Autonomy in Japan

    6

    It’s perfectly fine for a child to ride a subway by himself in Japan (age 4 isn't too young). There’s no horrified looks, no awkward stares. It’s just the way it is. And they survive.

  • In Vietnam, Babies Are Potty Trained at 9 Months Old

    7

    Are you struggling with potty training your child? Perhaps it’s time to take a cue from Vietnamese moms who manage to train their babies to pee on command. Parents take notice when their kids start peeing and make a whistle sound. With some repetition, babies associate the whistle with peeing, and most of them are diaper-free by 9 months old. 

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