Canada and the United States are more alike than they are different. That's why it can be so hard to notice the subtle nuances that make each country's culture so divergent.
The U.S. and Canada share a lot of pop culture. Many from the U.S. don't know that Jim Carrey, Drake, and Ryan Reynolds are actually from Canada. The Toronto Raptors even compete in the NBA as the National Basketball Association did what it could to grow in Canada (it didn't really). There are so many more things that the USA shares with Canada.
People from the United States and Canada both enjoy a good burger and fries, coffee, and both countries celebrate Thanksgiving. A look beneath the surface of both countries gives us a better view of what the differences between both countries actually are.
Cultural differences also affect the way parents raise their children. This can come as a surprise to people who decide to move from one country to another. These similarities may mean that people only see subtle changes.
Here are some differences between what it's like to be a parent in the United States and Canada.
20 US: Use A Baby Walker
Parents from the U.S. usually buy baby walkers in an effort to help their children learn how to walk. These are actually banned in Canada since 2004. Some pediatricians also think the same should be the case in the U.S.
Instead, companies from the United States changed the design of baby walkers to make it harder for young toddlers to walk through doors or fall down. Research shows that baby walkers may not actually help babies. Canada takes its ban on baby walkers very seriously. People who try to cross the border with them could face jail time, and fines for selling or importing them are up to $100,000.
19 Canada: One Year Of Maternal Leave
Mothers from the U.S. are allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, but many decide to come back to work sooner than this. Canada used to offer new moms one year's worth of maternity leave. However, the country just approved a law that would allow new parents to stretch their leave for up to 18 months.
In Canada, mothers can also take leave up to 12 weeks before actually having the baby. This is up from the 8 weeks that were allowed under the old law. Though the government is still handling logistical concerns over the law. Still sounds sweet though.
18 US: Test Prep Is A Huge Industry
Standardized tests affect children in the United States at all levels. They're often criticized and derided, but the school system in the U.S. still widely depends on them.
Many students take tests such as the SAT and ACT more than once in an effort to improve their chances of getting into a select university. Bookstores in the U.S. sell many test-prep books, and many companies offer test-prep classes so that teenagers can have an advantage over their peers.
Some colleges and universities have stopped considering standardized test scores in their admission applications. Still, it seems like the test-prep industry will remain a part of life in the U.S.
17 Canada: Milk Comes In Bags
People in the U.S. usually buy their milk in jugs that contain an entire gallon or in cartons of different sizes. Some brands even sell milk in a glass jar in order to encourage people to reuse or recycle them.
In Canada, milk is sold in bags. Turns out the country even invented this. In 1967 a company named DuPont took it upon themselves to reduce the cost of packaging milk. They pioneered this method and it caught on.
In the 1970s, Canada switched over to the metric system. Selling milk in plastic bags allowed dairy vendors to sell milk in these measurements.
16 US: Obsess Over Their Kids' Teeth
Entire cultures around the world make fun of the U.S. for how much people there care about their teeth. The number of teenagers in the U.S. with braces is estimated at 80%. That's a lot of teenagers whose parents are shelling out cash so their children can have straight teeth.
People in the U.S. also spend a lot of money on teeth whitening. Browse around the internet and you can also find plenty of blog posts for what to do with your child's baby teeth. Let's not forget the tooth fairy and how most children in the U.S. expect money under their pillow after a baby tooth falls out.
15 Canada: Less Patriotism In School
In 1889 William Warner was the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. He famously said that “The reverence of schoolchildren for the flag should be like that of the Israelites for the Ark of the Covenant.”
So, you know, some people really felt that children in the U.S. should display patriotism at school on a daily basis. Many students began their day pledging allegiance to the flag starting on 1917.
In Canada, children are not expected to say a pledge to their flag every day. Students are also taught a more global view of the world as compared to kids in the US.
14 US: Helicopter Parenting
Helicopter parenting is seen as a more of a phenomenon from the US. This may involve micromanaging a child's actions and paying attention to even relatively small details of their lives. Helicopter parents may go as far as telling their children when to play and what toys to use.
This excess of parental control has actually been proven to have worse outcomes for children, as they may not learn how to properly deal with stress management. Other parents around the world take wildly different approaches. In Denmark, parents leave their babies outside in strollers as they have a cup of coffee. A helicopter parent would never.
13 Canada: The Law Protects The Child's Well-Being
Not to say that laws from the U.S. don't protect children. There are entire government agencies dedicated to the protection of children, such as Child Protective Services.
Corporal punishment in the United States is less practiced but is still legal at schools in 19 states. In Canada, only parents and step-parents can use corporal punishment to discipline a child. Still, Canada even lists children's rights online so children may easily learn about them.
Children from the U.S. have this too, but the cultural differences in each state mean that children from the U.S. grow up with very different ideas of what their rights are.
12 US: Drive An SUV
According to statistics, people in the U.S. generally buy bigger cars than people around the world. Families are known for buy Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) so that everyone fits in the car at the same time.
Sedans used to be the go-to for parents in the U.S., and still are for many families all over the world. This is especially true of Brazil, China, and Mexico where cars such as Toyota Corollas remain popular overall.
Still, some people believe that folks from the U.S. buy larger cars because they can. The United States has built streets with large cars in mind, and other countries around the world haven't.
11 US: Enforcing Early Bedtimes
Parents in the United States are known for enforcing an early bed-time for their children. Some parents claim this is good because it gives them valuable alone time. There are some perks to this, as one study actually found that getting enough sleep as a child reduces the risk of becoming obese as a teenager.
In countries such as Spain and Argentina, children go to sleep much later. This is in part because they eat dinner at later hours and because children are expected to participate in family activities. Even FiveThirtyEight suggests that bedtimes are purely a social construction, and they decry early bedtimes!
10 Canada: All Public Schools Are Good
US public schools change a lot depending on where you live. It's not really like this in Canada. In the United States, where you live can affect how good your school district is. This is why so many real estate companies use local school system rankings whenever they can. Families who live in places with a better public school system even pay more for their homes!
Schools in Canada are funded differently. This means that where a child lives will have less of an influence on the quality of their education. Plus, Canada is lucky to score highly on international rankings of educational systems.
9 US: Putting Kids In Leashes
Some parents in the United States are known to put their kids in leashes. Of course, these are referred to as harnesses instead. Many parents report feeling at peace, knowing that their children can't just run away. This is especially comforting when visiting amusement parks and other crowded areas.
Many parents around the world don't do this in order to keep track of their children. In fact, list articles around the world often include putting kids in leashes as a distinctly "weird" practice from the USA. There's no wrong or right thing to do when it comes to children's safety, but this is certainly unique.
8 Canada: Everyone Is Very Nice
They're even nice on Twitter, where many other people tend to spew vitriol. Now that is true politeness indeed! One theory about why this is the case is that people from Canada were very nice because they were isolated from others. The country doesn't take part in hierarchical structures, so this explains why everyone is more likely to be so nice.
7 US: Kids Eat A Lot Of Prepackaged Foods
Canada has universal healthcare, and this explains why people who live there are generally healthier than their counterparts in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that people in Canada have a lower obesity rate too.
Parents in the United States are also likely to prepare kid-friendly options for their children. They are also more likely to feed them pre-packaged foods. This is a rarity in many cultures across the world, which value giving children the same meal as adults.
In fact, some children even expect this from their parents. This means many parents may want to give their child a more adult meal, but do what is expected of their culture.
6 Canada: Your Kids Will Probably Love Hockey
Families from the U.S. have NFL, but people from Canada have hockey. The first official game was in 1875, and the game continued its popularity through the 19th and 20th centuries.
Today, hockey is even used to help Syrian refugee children integrate into their new country.
The game is also popular with women, and the women's hockey team in Canada has won four Olympic gold medals. Though there are hockey teams in the United States, their fans aren't nearly as fervent as their neighbors.
5 US: Meds For Children With ADHD
Every country deals with issues of mental health differently. The United States is one of the few countries in the world where it's legal for pharmaceutical companies to advertise to consumers directly. According to Vox, most countries in the world do not allow the practice.
This has had a big influence on culture in the United States. Children in the U.S. are 10 times more likely to receive medication for ADHD than children from the UK, five times more likely than children in Germany, and four times more likely than children from the Netherlands. Research is still out on the methods and reasons for how these medications are disseminated.
4 Canada: School Starts A Bit Later
Schools in the United States are known to start as early as 7:30 in the morning. Ouch! Schools in Canada generally start at 8:30 AM. This must be great for high school students, as it is proven that their circadian rhythm is the main reason why teens aren't morning people.
Plus, it must be great for parents and students to have a bit more time to snooze and eat breakfast before the day starts. In fact, some studies support starting high school even later so that teens can get a full night's rest when they need it more.
3 US: Elaborate Kid's Birthday Parties
Girls in some parts of the United States also celebrate with debutante balls, otherwise known as cotillions. Though pilgrims who arrived at the USA tended to live ascetic lives, this is one over-the-top tradition they decided to keep.
Let's not forget Sweet 16 parties. These are simply debutante balls that are often less traditional. Overall, these signify being a woman. But not to worry. Little boys also have epic birthday parties of their own!
2 Canada: Parents Want To Instill Selflessness In Their Kids
The Vancouver Sun analyzed data about parenting values in Canada and the U.S. Though these charts look similar to the undiscerning eye, a whopping 47% of parents in Canada wanted to instill unselfishness in their children as a value. This compares favorably against the 38% of parents in the U.S. who want the same thing for their children.
Parents in Canada also place a higher value on independence than parents in the U.S. They also place less of a premium on having their children develop or be a part of a religious faith. These subtle differences explain a lot about other major differences between parenting and living in each country.
1 US: Parents Don't Expect Kids To Help With Chores
Another major difference between the US and Canada (and the rest of the world) is that only 28% of parents expect their children to help with chores. In a survey, many people from Canada said it was perfectly fine to start assigning children chores between the ages of 5 and 8. They felt that these life skills could also help children become more independent.
In other news, parents in countries such as Algeria and Romania, a whopping 70% of children say they assist with chores at least once daily. Science even shows that assigning chores to children might help them succeed as adults.