If one thing is the same about all parents worldwide, it’s that they want what is best for their kids. However, what this looks like can vary depending on the country that parents are in. Given this, there may be a lot of unique parenting tips that moms and dads in the United States can learn about from their counterparts. These out of the box parenting approaches may seem different to Americans, but they’re something to consider.
Different styles of parenting can begin as early as childbirth. While childbirth experiences sometimes vary in the U.S., many of them take place with the assistance of a doctor who has provided medical care throughout the pregnancy. The baby typically arrives in a hospital where medical assistance, including anesthesia, is possible and hospital stays last a day or two.
In other countries, things are different. New mothers in Holland work with a midwife and only see a doctor if there’s a medical complication. Many births take place without anesthesia, a large number of deliveries happen at home. In Germany, women are also more likely to see a midwife. In fact, it is required that one is present during birth. Alternately, birth for Japanese women is marked by a strong bias against using anesthesia due to the Buddhist-influenced perception that pain helps prepare a woman for motherhood. Japanese women are more likely to give birth in a hospital than at home, and fathers aren’t expected to be in the delivery room. Lastly, in Brazil, mothers are much more likely to experience a C-section when giving birth with rates up as high as 100 percent in some areas.
The first months after childbirth
Just as approaches to childbirth differ, so do approaches to caring for mother and baby during the first months following delivery. After a hospital day that generally lasts a day or so, some women are able to enjoy a time of rest and bonding and some are celebrated with a gift of significance from their partners. Working women are legally protected in their jobs for a period of up to three months, though many choose to return to work earlier. Husbands take leave in varying amounts of leave depending on their desire and their employment situation.
In many countries, including China, there’s a distinct period of postpartum time where women are expected to be nurtured, taken care of, and are strongly discouraged from engaging in any activity. In Germany, while there may not be a distinct period of low-activity time for women, they are forbidden from working for eight weeks after giving birth. They are also legally protected if they choose to take additional family leave time, up to three years. One of these years can be taken by the father, who is legally protected against job loss. In other countries, new mothers are recognized through postpartum rituals, including ceremonies, hairstyles, gifts, and meals, that celebrate a mother’s new status.
Just as childbirth and the postpartum period are different in other countries than in the U.S., potty training is done differently as well. Families in America, Canada, and parts of Europe begin training when children are approaching their second birthday using special toilets, diapers that easily pull on and off, focused attention, and a positive rewards system.
Potty training in other countries can be very different. In areas of China and India, children may start training well before their first birthday, with diapers that split in the center and don’t need to be maneuvered when its time to go. Incredibly, some babies in Vietnam are taught to urinate at the sound of their parents’ whistle and are accident-free by the time they’re nine-months-old.
In the United States, some families may offer their children the chance to try many foods and experience a range of flavors. Other families may allow children to focus on eating food that’s generally kid-friendly but still nutritious. Many Americans also aim to schedule family meals, where everyone connects and shares food together, as often as they can though with varying schedules getting in the way.
Other countries hold a strong bias against a kids-specific meal. For example, in Korea, kids are typically required to try something of each of the kinds of food that the adults are having. Many other countries are able to successfully hold extended meals together, lingering to talk and spend time together.
Spending time outdoors
In the United States, temperatures and general climate can vary by geography and the seasons. What is consistent is that if temperatures are considered too cold (generally below freezing) or too warm (in the high 90 degrees Fahrenheit), then children are discouraged or restricted from spending time outside. They’ll find a way to burn off energy or play indoors.
In other countries, this isn’t the case and they spend at least some time outside every day. In Norway, kids nap outdoors regardless of temperature. In Denmark, this is taken to new extremes and residents may leave babies in their carriages, bundled up against the cold, while parents are indoors enjoying a meal or shopping.
Developing a work ethic
Parents in most countries retain some form of an approach towards teaching their kids about the value of money and work. In the United States, many parents provide an allowance as payment for doing chores and track their kids’ work progress. This approach is similar in other countries, though the compensation and process for payment may vary. In Central America, even children as young as older toddlers are expected to do their share of work around the household.