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 Post subject: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:00 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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I just saw this article: The babies who nap in sub-zero temperatures, and realized I never even thought this could be considered strange to anyone. I am from Denmark, and here most children sleep outside, unless they live in the middle of a big city. Even then, daycares (90% of all kids are in daycare from they are 1 year old, and something like 97% are in daycare before they are 2) will usually put the kids to sleep outside if they have the outdoor facilities.
The article could just as well have been written about danish children, except we only get temps down to around -10C. But I guess the daycare from 1 is also a very nordic thing.. Some children are at daycare from they are 6 months.

This forum seems to be very american-centered, but I am very interested in how different cultures and countries have different ways of "growing new citizens". Here, it is definitely a part of a bigger plan; you get socialized with your peers from a very early age, and children are expected to be pretty capable from an early age; you make your own sandwiches at the table at around 2-3, some places have the children help out in the kitchen from they are 4, the kids most places play outside in big areas without constant adult supervision (of course there are adults around, but they're not watching all of the time) so the children are expected to be able to come to an agreement if they disagree on something etc. This is of course, because pedagogy is widely recognized here as a good way of "forming" children to become part of society. you can read a little bit about the subject on wikipedia if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedagogy - studying pedagogy is a pretty common thing here, and everyone knows at least a few people who work in daycare/nurseries/after school programs etc. My mom is a leader of a daycare facility with several hundred children, and every single daycare institution has a "plan of action" which is publicly available and has to be explained in a simple way so everyone understands. There are nature-daycares who take the children on outdoor trips several times a week, or organic daycares, or daycares that focus a lot on theater and reading, or Rudolf Steiner-daycares.. They are pretty central to the system here, and it is considered very strange to be a stay at home parent for more than the first year of the child's life. Some people do it, but most women return to their workplace within a year.

I really want to hear how it is other places.. of course I know a little about other european countries from school, but I have no idea how correct that information is, and it seems like there are some very central things that are different in different places. It's one of those things that most people grow up just assuming is the same everywhere, but what is considered healthy and normal one place (like sleeping in -10C outside or walking to school on your own at 7 or handing over your child at 1 for 6-9 hours of daycare a day) would be considered strange or even abusive in other places!

I am really excited about reading your stories!


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:02 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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Oh, and the non-us citizens thing doesn't mean that US parents shouldn't contribute, but more that the focus of the thread should be to have a diverse range of cultures represented, if possible! So please let us know where you are from when you write. I know there are several parents who have moved from one place to another, who probably have some interesting stories and inside on cultural differences!


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:07 am 
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Drunk Dialed Ian MacKaye
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This is pre-birth, but one thing I've noticed is that baby showers in the UK (if you have them at all) are not the huge deal they are in the US. I know so many people in the US who told me they didn't even want a baby shower at all, but were thrown one by their family, another by their friends, and another by their workmates. Meanwhile, even my most pwincessy friend here (I met her because she invited me to her wedding right after we met because she wanted lots of presents...her wedding was on the other side of the UK and I'm pretty sure she didn't expect me to go, so I just got her a gift card) didn't have a baby shower and I know if she were in the US, she would have had at least one.
I didn't want a baby shower because I was trying to avoid 'too much stuff' (and still ended up with too much stuff, but it was all hand-me-downs, so it didn't seem as wasteful), so it was a relief that they aren't the norm here. That said, I heard they are gaining popularity.

I don't know anything about daycare, but I do know that, in my area at least, you can get a few days of free preschool once your child turns 3 and that I seem to be the only mum who isn't taking advantage of the offer. School here (Scotland) starts at 4 or 5 -- it seems to be your choice, but your child has to enter reception year (kindergarten) either the semester or the fall semester after they've turned 5 (I'm a bit confused about that, actually). I'm not sure if the same applies to England and Wales, but I know in the US, school starts in the fall when you are 5.

Toddler playgroups here seem to be a big deal -- we were pressured to go to one by our health visitor* for "socialisation" reasons, but the kids all seemed to just play by themselves and it was more about the parents socialising (my husband and I felt left out because we weren't regulars, even though we really tried), drinking tea/coffee, and eating cake. Seriously, they gave me a pamphlet and said if I joined, I'd have to (~4x a year) provide toast & butter and healthy snacks for the children and cake or some kind of pastry for the adults. That was kind of a turn-off for me because no one else's cake is vegan because I try to eat healthy and avoid eating sweets (especially the enormous portions they had at the playgroup) and think it sends mixed messages to the kids. "Here's white toast, fruit, and juice, momma's gonna eat some cake."
I wouldn't have thought that was the norm (and I'm not sure gigantic slices of cake are the norm), but the tea and biscuit-thing seems to be because I see all kinds of advertisements for children's playgroups and they always seem to mention something along the line of, "we have the best chocolate biscuits of any toddler playgroup in the area!"

* That's another thing -- it's standard here for the midwives to visit you in your home for the first 14 days after birth and then the health visitors start coming and keep coming for the first few months. My American friends are horrified at the idea of someone coming to my house all the time.

So, nothing as exciting as bundled up babies sleeping outside, but maybe I've hit on something unusual?

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:33 am 
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Such an interesting thread, smoothie! Someone had posted about Finnish kids napping outdoors (I believe the poster was looking for a vegan alternative to the sheepskin the babies nap on), and I remember being amazed by that.

My stepsister had her twins in England, and it was amazing to me that if the baby is admitted to the hospital during his/her first year of life, they go to the maternity ward, and the mother can get a bed with her child. It sounds so wonderful and supportive, that you don't have to try and sleep on the floor or a chair and the baby is with nurses who are familiar with dealing with infants. I wish we did this here.

I also love how much in-home support there is.

I grew up in Austria, and my favorite thing about that was how much freedom kids have. There is great public transportation here and we started using it so early on, without the amount of fear that people have in the US about kidnappings etc (even though bad things happen in both countries). When we moved to the US, when I was 15, I needed to have my mother drive everywhere and it felt like a big step backwards. I often wish we could take Leela back to Austria to grow up.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:45 am 
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I most definitely grew up in the US but I think 'things have changed'.

Even though I grew up in a warm climate, I don't think we ever took naps outside, always inside.

On the cooking front, I started cooking with my mom from a young age, not sure how young but by the time I was 14, I took over most of the cooking.

Also, except for the year when I was 12 where I went to a school across town (10 miles?), I walked to school by myself or with my peers. I also had a monthly bus pass from the age of around age 13 and older, and basically went wherever I wanted with my friends on the public busses. During the summers from around age 10, I walked to the public pool almost every day (it was probably a little over a mile). My friends and I walked a lot but took the busses for longer distances like going to the mall (10 miles or so away). So although I'm slightly younger than Tofulish, I'd say our experience in that department was slightly different. I don't know why, most teens/tweens in my city had bus passes and hardly ever got driven around.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:17 am 
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I am American, but live in Denmark.

At first living here I was a bit surprised to see the babies napping outside, but now it seems quite normal to me. The midwives here told us only to do it if it's above -10 C (but they also said Swedes will do it until -15 C). We don't use a pram, so our baby doesn't just sleep out there like that, but we do take her on long walks in the carrier even when it's cold out. And she does sleep the best when outside in the fresh air--of course I'm not very scientific, but those naps do seem the longest, even compared to napping in the carrier indoors.

In my opinion we're lucky that due to the kinds of jobs Mr. Scandi and I have, we won't "have to" send tw to daycare/kindergarten for some time, but I know many of my friends here think that all kids should go from at least age 1. I'd like to wait longer than that, like until age 4, but I would also love to send her then to one of the outdoor kindergartens like you mention. We often see those kids playing outside here in our city, and yes, their parents say that they are never sick!


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:17 am 
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I know in Japan the vast majority of parenting and disciplining (not pushment, but teaching values) is really the responsibility of the school, and the parents are not expected to be the authoritarian figures in any way.

Here in Brazil kids are expected to stay home with mom or a nanny until school age, just playing, and any reading/study is considered to be more or less oppressive- I think the vast majority of kids learn to read when they go to kindergarten or after.
In the past when kids played outdoors and in groups, this was great, as kids developed a real sense of cultural cohesion and group abilities and emotional intelligence. Now, though, most people grow up in cities and parents have security worries, so the kids stay alone in their houses and on the computer all the time, and don't have this good ability to make friends, to be gregarious any more. Also, kids only go to school half-days, and have lots of time with very little to do (school sports and extracurriculars are rare. libraries are few and far between). This creates a lot of reticence about doing homework or chores during what is not "school time" and it really permeates the culture well into adulthood.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:56 am 
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smoothie, i read that article, and all i could think was, pfft, -5 C is practically spring. that said, i would definitely leave my babies outside to sleep if i had an outdoor area. i only have a little balcony with stairs down to the sidewalk, and there's no way for me to really monitor her with all the other people in my building. also, it's usually more like -30C in the winter, and that's not nice to sleep in!


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:57 am 
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linanil wrote:
I most definitely grew up in the US but I think 'things have changed'.


Yeah, I feel like that too. It's weird because I'm raising my kids with pretty much all the better parts of how my family raised me-- which includes learning practical skills and having some self-confidence and self-reliance pretty early.

It's weird because I sometimes feel like no other parents around me are doing these things and think I am totally insane.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:01 pm 
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Wait so -10C = 14F ? Did google tell me that correctly. I want to cry at the mere thought of 14F.

(For me. Not a parenting judgement)

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:09 pm 
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My cousin, his wife, and their 1 1/2 month old baby are currently in one of these: http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/life ... els-020912


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:10 pm 
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i think it's also interesting to think about what used to be acceptable and has changed.... my grandmother, who is in her 80s, told me that she used to leave my father sleeping in his stroller outside of department stores in New York. that there would be a whole fleet of babies out there parked in prams. if someone woke up and fussed someone passing by might jiggle the stroller or whatever. it is so interesting to think that in the same country we've gone from that to the complete opposite.

When I worked in the US with refugees we (the teachers/admins) were often the interface between new immigrants and police/social services. New immigrants often found themselves getting reported for coining http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gua_Sha or leaving young children alone in the house, for example, and we ended up having to educate them, request the authorities back off, and then answer the question "but WHY is this not acceptable". In the end it usually just came down to the inadequate "because we don't want you in jail" and not some logical answer.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:27 pm 
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Kelly wrote:
Wait so -10C = 14F ? Did google tell me that correctly. I want to cry at the mere thought of 14F.

(For me. Not a parenting judgement)


I didn't even look up the conversion. Honestly, thats not bad. What usually gets you in those temps is the wind but if you are sheltered, like the baby looks to be, and bundled up, you can be comfortable.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:03 pm 
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I'm American, but my baby boomer MIL, who was raised in very rural western Illinois, had this to say about the article: "Don't you remember the stories of Grandma putting me outside for my naps - even in winter? The story goes that in cold weather, there was always at least one kitty sleeping with me in the baby buggy (pram)! Supposedly, I never got sick - other than chicken-pox - until I started school"


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:10 pm 
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celyn wrote:
My cousin, his wife, and their 1 1/2 month old baby are currently in one of these: http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/life ... els-020912


Oh that sounds wonderful!

We did the 30 day "confinement" (its just the nuclear family, no grandparents, inlaws etc) that Chinese medicine calls for at home, with no visitors for the first 30 days, and loved it so much we extended it. But that hotel sounds epic.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:30 pm 
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This is an interesting thread. I have lots of questions and comments, but now....I am off to watch the finale of Homeland with the man and pray that the bean stays asleep.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:08 pm 
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Smoothie, much of what you wrote about sounds very similar to where I live, the differences being that we don't purposefully put kids outside to sleep, but they often sleep outside in a stroller. Grey has never been great about sleeping in his stroller so it hasn't happened often with him, but he often took naps on a blanket at the park or beach. Of course, it never gets that cold here either. The other difference seems (at least at greys age, 19 months) that I am still supposed to follow him around at the park, I mostly do this to make sure he doesn't hurt himself. The older kids have parents sitting around, but they mostly seem to settle disagreements themselves, unless it is with a you get baby/toddler and then often a parents will step in since the little one can't assert themselves really.
The older kids all walk to school. Grey is already learning to help around the house, he "helps" sweep, out away dishes and do simple things, like peels an orange when we eat them. We have a very small house so we have a rule that when he wants to play with a new toy or toy set (trains and then mr. Potato head) ine has to be put away before the other can come out. He is starting to help put things away, but he usually still just watches me.

There are lots of moms that stay home and lots that return to work. I have chosen to stay home because daycare is very expensive here and if I worked I would only net maybe $300 a month after paying for daycare, to me it didn't make sense to miss this time in greys life to go to a job that, while I liked, I didn't love anymore. Because our community is so outdoors based we see and play with other kids everyday, I think this is pretty unique to our area. There is an outdoor daycare that just opened and I am going to try and see if grey can go one day a week once he turns two (minimum age for the daycare). They will learn to garden, take care of animals, identify native plants, etc. the one thing I really do with is that we could afford to send him to daycare a couple days a week so he could have more time with other kids without me around. I have looked for part time work so we can afford it, it is just difficult with the work I do to have it match up to daycare hours.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:21 pm 
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Kelly wrote:
Wait so -10C = 14F ? Did google tell me that correctly. I want to cry at the mere thought of 14F.

(For me. Not a parenting judgement)


Ha ha - I feel the same way - living in Florida thins your blood doesn't it! We went to the park today and even though it was about 65F I almost went back home because the breeze made it feel a little on the chilly side ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:40 pm 
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annasrobbie wrote:
Kelly wrote:
Wait so -10C = 14F ? Did google tell me that correctly. I want to cry at the mere thought of 14F.

(For me. Not a parenting judgement)


Ha ha - I feel the same way - living in Florida thins your blood doesn't it! We went to the park today and even though it was about 65F I almost went back home because the breeze made it feel a little on the chilly side ;)


You get me.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:56 pm 
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i dunno. ive lived in MA my entire life and if anyone put me outside in 14 degree weather and wanted me to sleep i would shrivel up and die.

those babies are tough!

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:50 pm 
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Babies don't feel the cold like we do, I swear! I can be a shivering mess and grey doesn't care! He just wants to play!


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:50 pm 
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smoothie also mentioned differences in when kids learn to prepare food, which I'd be really interested in hearing about too! I grew up in the US and learned to cook at a very young age simply because I was the oldest kid in the family and because I really really wanted to, but my younger siblings do not cook (even as adults!) I think my middle sibling (age 24 now) does at least know how to cook, but my youngest sibling (age 19) probably couldn't even make a sandwich on his own. I'm always amazed by how many people my age (especially people who were socialized as boys!) do not know how to cook, and I wonder if this is less common in other cultures/countries.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:15 am 
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annasrobbie wrote:
Ha ha - I feel the same way - living in Florida thins your blood doesn't it! We went to the park today and even though it was about 65F I almost went back home because the breeze made it feel a little on the chilly side ;)

OMG, 65F is a hot summer day here! One time it was 70F and everyone was complaining about how clammy it was!!

littlebear wrote:
Babies don't feel the cold like we do, I swear! I can be a shivering mess and grey doesn't care! He just wants to play!

My kids would run around naked indoors all winter if I let them! We keep our house at about 60F. Not naked weather for me, that's for sure.

choirqueer wrote:
smoothie also mentioned differences in when kids learn to prepare food, which I'd be really interested in hearing about too! I grew up in the US and learned to cook at a very young age simply because I was the oldest kid in the family and because I really really wanted to, but my younger siblings do not cook (even as adults!) I think my middle sibling (age 24 now) does at least know how to cook, but my youngest sibling (age 19) probably couldn't even make a sandwich on his own. I'm always amazed by how many people my age (especially people who were socialized as boys!) do not know how to cook, and I wonder if this is less common in other cultures/countries.

There's also the question of how strict their parents were. My husband and I weren't allowed to cook growing up (I remember coming home from college and seeing my sister making dinner and tattling on her (how mature of me) and my mom being all, "well, how else is she going to have dinner?" and I was all what the fizzle?!). It turns out I have a knack for cooking (which skipped a generation because my parents are terrible cooks), but my husband totally does not get it and I think it would have helped a lot if his parents had let him. I totally encourage my kids to help, but they aren't too interested yet.

None of my friends ever had curfews in high school, but mine was between 10 and 11pm (depending on my parents' mood and schedule) even in college.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:50 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
smoothie also mentioned differences in when kids learn to prepare food, which I'd be really interested in hearing about too! I grew up in the US and learned to cook at a very young age simply because I was the oldest kid in the family and because I really really wanted to, but my younger siblings do not cook (even as adults!) I think my middle sibling (age 24 now) does at least know how to cook, but my youngest sibling (age 19) probably couldn't even make a sandwich on his own. I'm always amazed by how many people my age (especially people who were socialized as boys!) do not know how to cook, and I wonder if this is less common in other cultures/countries.

This is interesting. When I was pregnant Nate and I talked about things we wanted for our child, this was before we knew the sex. I wanted to teach the baby to knit, to see (ok, need to learn this myself still), cook, bake, can vegetables, read, do laundry, clean, etc. my husband had his list too, work n bikes and cars, camp, etc. anyway, none of that changed when we found out what kind of baby we were having. I am already trying to integrate cooking into Grey's life. Wen I cook I often hold him and explain to him what I am doing. I also mentioned above having him do things like peel an orange. I actually want to look and see if there are resources that talk about different age appropriate things for kids to do in the kitchen. It is really important that grey learns to cook and clean up. My husbands idea of cooking is putting a frozen pizza in the oven. Also, I'm sure there are tons of things my parents could have done differently, but my in laws never made my husband clean, cook, do laundry, anything. Moving in with him was so hard and the first few years we were together was tumultuous. I don't want grey to have that experience, I want him to be more self sufficient than either my husband or I were!


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:51 am 
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TheCrabbyCrafter wrote:
annasrobbie wrote:
Ha ha - I feel the same way - living in Florida thins your blood doesn't it! We went to the park today and even though it was about 65F I almost went back home because the breeze made it feel a little on the chilly side ;)

OMG, 65F is a hot summer day here! One time it was 70F and everyone was complaining about how clammy it was!!


When we visited Edinburgh a few years ago it was at least 90F and humid!! We were at this vegan B&B (awesome!!!) but our room was on the 3rd floor with no a/c and we couldn't even sleep it was so hot. Bleh. I'm convinced Scotland is basically the British version of Florida, now (weirdly, we'd come from Bath and left afterwards for London, where temps and humidity were totally normal).


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