Many parents have read the parenting books available to them before their child was born. Some have even kept up with their reading and improved their knowledge by continuing to learn about parenting. Despite the universal knowledge that comes with raising kids, like making sure the kids are getting a proper diet, enough sleep, and plenty of love, given the size of the planet, there are bound to be some differences between cultures.
There is no universal handbook on parenting and raising kids. Unsurprisingly, different parts of the world have different ideas about raising future generations. Each parent meets the basic necessities in a different way, depending on where they are located. Furthermore, there are some practices that would make anyone give pause, or some may even consider it a crime. Take, for example, leaving your baby in the stroller in front of a store while you do some shopping inside.
But all ideas about the best way to raise kids, parents get from their cultures. All of the ways they grew up, the values they had instilled and the cultural norms they’ve lived with greatly influence how they raise their kids. And it’s a fact that most parents try to be the best parents that they can ever be. We've found some interesting ways parents raise their kids in different parts of the world.
23 Al-Fresco Naps
As we all know, Scandinavian countries have fairly low temperatures. Which, going along with common sense, means it can be dangerous for small children because they can get cold, or even seriously sick. However, according to the BBC, that’s not the case. One of the foundations on which Scandinavian parents raise their kids is open-air living. And what that means is that the parents regularly leave their kids outside to take naps. In the freezing cold weather. Apparently, in Scandinavian countries, it’s believed that children are actually healthier this way, and it’s incredibly common.
22 Laid Back Schooling
Everyone keeps talking about how Finland has the best education system in the entire world; how Finland cares so much about their children and their students. But what actually is the secret behind their success?
Well, according to The Guardian, the secret is that children in Finland don’t start school at around the ages of 4 or 5. In fact, this incredibly successful education system actually starts at the age of 7. Before then, children are supposed to play and stay active, because while they’re young, it’s apparently best to stay creative.
21 Gap Year
Although the United Kingdom is most famous for this tactic, there are plenty of others who partake in this practice. When it comes to the UK specifically, last year, 230,000 students took a gap year so they could either work, volunteer, or just travel.
This way, young people can learn some beneficial skills and life lessons before they start attending classes again. Actually, there are entire organizations that help these students plan their perfect gap year so that there is absolutely no time wasted. And even colleges and universities encourage the practice.
20 All Hands On Deck
Most people around the world, or at least, in the first world countries, learn all about parenting from their parents, parenting books, classes, and perhaps even social media. However, in countries where communities are tightly knit and large in number, many rely on the experience of others to help raise their kids. There are many communities in Africa where the parents aren’t the only ones responsible for raising their child. This is actually an obligation for members of the extended family as well, and even non-relatives. It takes a whole village, as they say!
19 Less School Time
Aside from the fact that kids in Finland start school at the age of 7, they also spend a lot less time in school as well. Finnish schools provide their kids with frequent breaks to spend time outside, and their school hours are much shorter. They spend as little as four hours per day at school, and can even have 45-minute breaks in between! According to Finnish educators, the most important skills that kids need to learn are music, art, home economics and other life skills.
18 Everyone's A Parent
Plenty of parents in countries like Greece, Italy, and even India think that it’s best for children to be raised by everyone. And by everyone, we mean the parents, the extended family, the friends, and the entire community. In fact, in Brazil, it’s fairly common for several generations of a single family (the parents, grandparents, siblings, and some cousins) to live in adjoining homes. Or at least on separate floors of the same house. Extended family relationships are very important to them, and this way it’s easier for the parents to get help in raising their kids.
17 It's Okay To Be Hungry
Apparently, Western countries are completely wrong when it comes to food. In Korea, one of the most important life skills that kids learn is eating. Of course, kids are taught that sharing food and having meals together with friends and family is great, but Korean kids are really taught this as a skill. There, kids are taught about waiting out their hunger, until the entire family sits down to have a meal, and all kids eat the same things that the adults eat.
16 A Little Drink Never Hurt Anybody
Imagine giving your small kids a sip or two of some of the wine you’re having with your dinner. Or letting them have a small glass of beer with you for lunch. For some parents, this may sound completely inappropriate, right? And for those that really care about their child’s health, this may even be equal to terrible parenting skills. But not in Croatia. According to studies, parents are giving over 7 percent of their first graders alcohol more than 6 times a month. Although it’s illegal, parents in this country still hold on to the belief that alcohol has great nutritional value.
15 Spoiling Kids Doesn't Exist
In western countries, parents often worry that they might end up spoiling their kids. If they buy them too many toys, if they pay them too much attention, or even if they fulfill too many wishes. But it’s actually the opposite in Japan. In this country, the parents don’t understand countries where the parents leave their babies to sleep in a separate room. And they tend to co-sleep with their babies and their children. That’s because they believe the kids who get their needs met grow up into independent adults.
14 Everyone Is Equal
Remember when you were a kid and wished that your parents listened to you more? Or, remember when your kid had a ridiculous proposal last week? Well, in Sweden, it’s common for all family members to express opinions and participate in the family’s decisions. According to studies, the parent-child relationships in Sweden are very egalitarian. And both parents and their kids have equal rights in the family. This means that both the parents and the kids end up happier in the long run.
13 Kids Have Responsibilities
While American parents don’t want to burden their growing children with obligations and responsibilities towards the family, in China it’s actually the opposite. Plenty of research has shown that parents who remind their kids of their obligations to the family end up more motivated and achieve more things. They see it as a way for the kids to pay back a bit of what they’ve received over the years. And they end up getting better grades for it.
12 Getting 'Fresh Air'
Have you ever seen a baby stroller outside a café, or outside a store? And did you assume that the parent took their baby inside, but left the stroller out, to have more room inside? Well, you were wrong. The baby was actually sleeping in that stroller. And the parents are usually right beside the window, inside. This often happens in Denmark, where parents leave their kids all cozied up to nap in the cold so that they’ll be healthier.
11 Independent Kids
If you ever see a small child riding the New York subway all by themselves, you’d think the kid was lost, right? You’ll start looking for the kid’s parents or at least try to help them get home. But in Japan, independent young kids is a common sight. They’ve even made an entire TV show about it, where kids as young as 2 or 3 years old go out into the world to run errands for the family! Now that’s independence.
10 Take Candy From Strangers
The most important thing you can teach your child is not to talk to strangers. And to never, under any circumstance, take candy from a stranger. Unless you’re a parent from Chile. People giving candy and other treats to kids is seen as affectionate. And it’s common for strangers to offer candy to the kids on the street. If you teach your kids otherwise or refuse to do so, you’ll quickly find yourself in a group of strangers who will tell you that you’re wrong.
9 Date Night? What's That?
Every second Saturday of the month is scheduled as ‘date night’. If you say something like this to a Japanese parent, they’ll ask you “What’s ‘date night’?" That’s because, in Japan, restaurants are very expensive, and the parents often work very late into the night. For a middle-class couple to go out to eat in Japan, it happens as often as once a year. And both men and women in this country usually lead very separate lives. The mothers may eat dinner with their kids, while the fathers with their coworkers.
8 Hairstyles Galore!
Meanwhile, in Mexico, the schools tend to be quite involved in their students' grooming habits. They will even send the parents a note if their kids haven’t combed their hair properly. They also send notes if the child’s hair doesn’t have enough product in it. Apparently, the kids’ hair must look perfect, and should be combed with hair gel, not with water. In the children’s report cards that the parents receive, they even have a line that states the child’s ‘personal hygiene’.
7 'The Floor Is Lava'
In Bali, Indonesia, the kids are treated with the utmost respect. Many believe that babies are gifts that the gods send them. And the kids have to retain their innate holiness until they reach the three-month mark. And one of the things that could tamper with this holiness is if they end up touching the ground. Thus, parents tend to carry their babies around until they are three months old. After this period, there is an entire ceremony where the baby finally takes its first step on the ground, which they believe makes it fully human.
6 Everyone Has A Job
Staying at home is not an option in Norway. Everyone works there, and we really do mean everyone. With one of the most expensive cities, parents in Oslo can’t afford to stay at home. Thus, there is practically no ‘playground culture’. There aren’t many activities for the kids, there are no ‘mommy and me’ classes. The entire concept of childhood is institutionalized to the point where the kids start daycare when they turn one-year-old. And they stay in the daycare while the parents are at work.
5 Paternity Leave
Here’s another point why Scandinavian countries are great. While maternity leave is common for practically every single country in the world, not a lot of countries actually have paternity leave. Apparently, many people don’t recognize that fathers should have time off to spend with their new children. And one of the first countries that granted this right was Sweden. In Sweden, dads get two months off work to look after and raise their kids. Other dad-friendly countries are Finland, Norway, Iceland and Spain.
4 Child Fostering
While we mentioned that there are regions of Africa where the entire communities raise the kids, and countries like Brazil where the extended family help, this is different. In countries like Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia, the kids are sent away, so they can be raised by the relatives and non-relatives. This practice helps households deal with economic poverty, adult mortality and they can to use resources through kin to help redistribute costs and other benefits of childbearing.
3 The Government Pays For Daycare
We mentioned that everyone is working in Norway, and how it’s a dad-friendly country. But we didn’t mention that the daycares (that children begin attending when they turn one-year-old) are actually state-sponsored. In fact, both public and private daycares are sponsored by the state. The parents only pay a small fee, and that’s it. The daycares take great care of the kids. They take children on trips twice a week and teach them how to socialize. And since all kids attend daycare, there is practically no nanny business.
2 Kids Can Fight
When the kids are arguing or are in a fight, you may feel the need to step in and immediately get involved. But in countries like Japan, parents usually don’t get involved in their kids’ arguments. They realized that a little conflict is perfectly normal. They also believe it’s important for kids to learn how to deal with conflict so that they can live peacefully in the long-term. Allowing their kids to resolve their spats will encourage them and give them a sense of confidence.
1 Milk Sharing
In the first six months of a newborn’s life, the mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding in Kenya. They rarely introduce formula into the diet. And with exclusive breastfeeding, the survival rate of babies has greatly increased. But Kenyan mothers also often share breastmilk. Since babies tend to go hungry often, they always need to be fed. It’s a shame to put a steady supply of milk to waste, especially in locations where poor nutrition is such a widespread issue. And this practice is most common among family members.
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