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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:23 pm 
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I think the thing about leaving kids outside sleeping in strollers has to do with some countries catching the "oh my God kidnappers are gonna get your babies" disease and others somehow not catching it. Same thing with kids and public transportation. Growing up in a place with abominably useless public transportation (an inland area of San Diego county), I used to be allowed to walk huge distances on my own or in packs of kids, but kids where I live now (an urban/suburban area where things are much closer and the community is much more friendly to children and feels very safe) are not allowed nearly as much freedom at a young age.

Torque - that is really interesting about Japanese parents/schools and makes me want to live there.

The stuff about Denmark and daycare philosophies is also really interesting. In the crowds I run in, there seems to be consensus that socializing is not that important for very young children, because the primary relationship is with the parent and kids don't really play *with* each other until they're older. I can say from my nuclear family (sample size: 8 children), that the one kid who has turned out the best socially and professionally started at a home-based daycare at 6 weeks. Stay-at-home parenting seems to be a major cultural ideal for Americans that we measure ourselves against even if we have no intention/desire/ability to stay at home.

I'm an American (obvs), but I can speak a little bit to the culture of Israelis around kids and of more traditional Jewish Americans. We don't do baby showers because of both principle and superstition and there is a tradition for not even the parents to buy stuff for babies before they're born, so people often descend on your right after your kid is born with stuff. Some better-organized communities will come to your house and set up nurseries while you're still in the hospital, so you come home to everything being done. You definitely do not announce the name of a child before it's born and many don't announce until the baby is officially named in a religious ceremony (either at the first Sabbath after birth, or at 8 days). There's also a tradition just of being around the new mother and baby more, distant relatives and community members holding the newborn more, people coming to your house for newborn celebrations and mothers going to synagogue the first Sabbath after the baby is born, with the baby, for special blessings. It is basically the opposite of the Chinese confinement model.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:22 pm 
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This subject has interested me for a long while, as I work with families and have to try and be aware of the cultural variances in the places I've lived/worked (from super-urban Chicago to nowheresville Oklahoma). The thing about cooking for yourself was one thing I noticed often amongst families in lower socio-economic groups...kids at a young age (well under 10) nearly all knew how to do some basic cooking (grilled cheese, boiling pasta, heating up chicken nuggets, etc). I "helped" my mom in the kitchen some, but I surely wasn't allowed to use the stove at age 6.

Sleeping outside is fairly common here, even in some nurseries, but I don't think it's the norm by any means. Most people don't have a safe place (or one that feels safe at least) to leave a baby outside. Freya slept out often after we came back from walks, but I never wanted to leave her where I couldn't see her all the time, so sometimes that meant she had to be pulled in the back door. We did walk nearly every day for several months to town and she would take her 45 minute nap on the way, in the fresh air. It was surely one of the things that kept me from going around the bend.

My husband was raised in rural Norway and it's interesting to see what differences come up. Co-sleeping is considered weird there still to some degree, while here no one bats an eye (except maybe the health visitors...sigh). Everyone there breastfeeds at least at the beginning (a year or more of maternity leave helps!)..here in the UK, the exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks is about 25% (something like 80% start though!)

CC touched on some of the things I've noticed too, here. Playgroups are a *big* deal. "Have you found a group?" "You live in XYZ street, you must go to the XYZ group". Whew. I found it funny that only one group out of like 30 in our local area had any activities between 11:00 and 2:00. For babies taking two naps, it doesn't really work. Then, I found out that I was supposed to just keep Freya up in the morning (health visitor suggestion). The health visitor thing was truly horrifying in my experience. Pressure to feed Freya "better" and eventually to supplement because she wasn't gaining "fast enough" (which we later found out was just bullshiitake), admonition to put her in her own bed, getting crepe about her having cradle cap, the HV showing up one day unannounced (I was supposed to have received a letter) and then being perturbed because I wouldn't let her in. I told them that I was not interested in any future visits, and was sure we would end up on some list, but it worked out okay. I was glad to be rid of them before alternative vaccination schedules, veganism and extended breastfeeding came up. Anyway...(I still have some anger issues that I'm working on from those days)

Stay at home moms are more unusual here and especially in Norway, though I know several in each locale, and I think the idea is growing on moms here. The idea that kids have to go to preschool by age 3 for socialization is pretty well engrained. I suspect Freya will go to some preschool/playgroup, etc. part time at that age, but I don't at all think it's necessary.

One of the things I found interesting is that there is a lot of similarity between (hold that thought..Freya wakes yet again....son of a biscuit)


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:30 pm 
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Ariann wrote:
Torque - that is really interesting about Japanese parents/schools and makes me want to live there.


Really? I don't mean that in a bisque-y way, but I'm curious about this, since it's so different from American culture (where disciplining somebody else's kid is like throwing yourself on a landmine). I think I would have a very hard time with it. We're considering trying to get a Japanese tour, there's somebody we ran into there who has a rotation date that could probably be made to work so my husband could replace him, and the main hesitation would be the long hours (6days/wk) for B, but this actually gave me pause. I'd been thinking it would be pretty great to get Vi into japanese preschool for a while, but dang, I guess it's the American in me but I really cringe at the idea of the school disciplining my kid because what if I disagreed with them or their methods? Plus I have never heard Japanese kids described as particularly well-behaved, so it's interesting to me. (Yet somehow they all turn out insanely polite and very....kept in check as adults)

The non-US culture that I'm most familiar with is Dutch, and I did observe a lot less paranoia. For example, even in the most urban areas (we lived off Haarlemmerstraat, about a 10 minute walk east of the central station), you'll see <10 year old kids being sent out to do the family grocery shopping alone.. They also didn't have school buses, children were expected to bicycle, walk, or take transit on their own to school. And when there was a horrific murder of a couple children in Belgium - basically, the mother of these kids had had them sit outside a bar at night and wait while she drank inside until early morning, and somebody abducted them - the newspaper reporting/commentary on the issue never once questioned why the mother had left them outside like that while she got her drink on, and I can't IMAGINE the US news handling it similarly. It just didn't seem to be viewed as a bad decision on her part.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:57 pm 
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what's a health visitor?

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:37 pm 
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LisaPunk wrote:
what's a health visitor?

An overbearing woman who comes to visit you at your house on and off for the first 4 months after the baby is born and at the local health centre until the kid is...4? They are supposed to be helpful and stuff, but in my experience, they can't just say, "looks like everything is going fine," the way the midwives who visit for the first 14 days usually do, they have to be like a mother-in-law and find something -- anything -- that you're doing wrong and correct it. Even if it's something dumb, like when my kids were peely a few weeks after being born. The number of times they told me to rub them with olive oil to help slough off the extra skin...
Anyway, they would usually phone me a few minutes before showing up and I wasn't always aware that they were going to come over before I got the phone call.
And they are always really pushing the playgroup-thing like my kids are going to turn out to be completely socially inept if I don't go eat enormous slices of cake with other parents in my area at least once a week.

Midwives are more like, "how are your boobs?" and "go you!" and "make sure to take care of yourself, too!" whereas health visitors are all, "you have to get rid of that cradle cap -- another local mum says to try scraping it off with a credit card!" and, "the best way for your weaning baby to get iron is to feed him cornflakes or rice crispies with fresh orange juice."

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:48 pm 
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You know, playgroups with giant slices of cake sound amazing, if they were only vegan.

Maybe in addition to a PPK Retirement Home For Old PPKers, we also need a PPK Vegan Playgroup for PPK Parents ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:52 pm 
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Crabby, I think it's hilarious how you seem really perturbed about the amount of cake the parents are eating at play groups! No one has special food for the adults around me.

I have a question about snack culture. Now a days, I feel like a kid doesn't go more than 15 minutes before someone offers her a snack in the US. I don't remember snacking like that as a kid. I think I got one snack after school? Pretty sure that was it.

I was on a field trip once (with 7 year olds) and a parent that went with me was so annoyed that I wouldn't let her pass out a snack that she brought (nobody asked her to do that). We were going to eat lunch in 15 minutes! Many other times I've had parents bring snacks on field trips, but just enough for their kid. Really? You're going to give your kid a snack while 25 others don't have one?

What does snacking look like other places?


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:22 pm 
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I'm in Portland, Oregon USA and my background is teaching at a school much like the ones you speak of (I have an MS in Early Childhood Education, basically pedagogy but nobody knows what that means in the US outside of the field so they don't call it that) and taught at a Reggio-inspired school for twelve years (Reggio-Emilia is the city in Italy world-renowned for it's approach to care for children 0-5). It seems that there are lots of schools that are offering these kind of high quality programs here in the US (seeing the child as a citizen, offering engaging materials, giving children the tools to resolve conflict on their own, incorporating nature and outdoors into the curriculum, etc. etc.) but our huge roadblock is that none of it is government funded, so children in these programs tend to be economically entitled, and these programs are in the minority compared to low-quality centers or in-home care.
I left my job because I only made a few hundred bucks after paying my baby's tuition and combined with the pressure and demanding nature of the field, it just wasn't worth it. I know lots of other former teachers in the same position, so we have outings most days with other babies and toddlers. I know that single parenthood can be really isolating for other parents, and it seems like co-ops and swaps are popping up in response to this (at least here in Portland) with an emphasis on socialization for kids and adults, sharing/swapping clothes and kid gear, and creating strong community.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:01 pm 
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cc, i noticed the sweets thing when i was in the UK last, and every time i hang out with my brother in law or my husband's family (both brits). they LOVE their sweets and cakes and biscuits. we were in the UK for 2 weeks and i swear i would have gained 10 lbs if i'd eaten as much sweet stuff as everyone around me did. it's the same when we visit my inlaws (although they've transplanted to Canada)... boxes of chocolates and biscuits on the coffee tables, dessert after every meal, plus copious amounts of tea with sugar.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:46 pm 
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I read a book about the snack thing (well, not JUST about that, but for anyone who is interested in cultural food differences and kids, it's a really fascinating book), "French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters." It definitely made me think!


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:15 pm 
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That was a really interesting book, annak. Really reinforced a lot of things that I try to do with my kids and food.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:44 am 
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annak wrote:
Ariann wrote:
Torque - that is really interesting about Japanese parents/schools and makes me want to live there.


Really? I don't mean that in a bisque-y way, but I'm curious about this, since it's so different from American culture (where disciplining somebody else's kid is like throwing yourself on a landmine). I think I would have a very hard time with it. We're considering trying to get a Japanese tour, there's somebody we ran into there who has a rotation date that could probably be made to work so my husband could replace him, and the main hesitation would be the long hours (6days/wk) for B, but this actually gave me pause. I'd been thinking it would be pretty great to get Vi into japanese preschool for a while, but dang, I guess it's the American in me but I really cringe at the idea of the school disciplining my kid because what if I disagreed with them or their methods? Plus I have never heard Japanese kids described as particularly well-behaved, so it's interesting to me. (Yet somehow they all turn out insanely polite and very....kept in check as adults)


I run a school so I discipline kids every day. I don't have a problem with disciplining other kids (or telling them what to do, or whatever) and I actually encourage all the parents in our community to feel empowered to stop other people's kids from doing things that are dangerous, destructive, annoying, etc. It is demented to me that people are so hesitant to protect other kids or property or community standards because they don't want to overstep boundaries. We all have to live in this world together! I would probably be cool with another parent giving my kid a time-out or something similar if our kids were playing and mine was being excessively unruly and preventing fun play.

I just kind of feel like most parents are super bad at discipline (I'm sure I will be too! I can already tell that I am a total pushover and it's probably not going to get any better in the long run) and schools seem to be super awesome at it, perhaps because there are repercussions that seem more serious or meaningful to kids. So why not remove the at-home disciplinary anxiety, if possible? I mean, as long as they're not beating the kids, which I kind of assumed they wouldn't be.

As an example, I once punched a kid in the sixth grade (I was having problems already and she had pushed every button I had) walking home from school. It was a pretty mild altercation, me being a weakling and all, and also not having had any practice punching. Anyway, her parents told both the school and my mother. My mother said, "did she deserve it?" to which I said, "yes," and that was the end of it. I had never, ever, ever been in trouble at school, nothing so much as a tardy, but the school gave me a bunch of detention for the incident even though it happened way off school grounds. I wouldn't say I learned my lesson or anything, but I didn't punch anybody again till I was a drunk college student having an argument with a misogynist (and never since, promise!).


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:42 am 
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Butternut wrote:
Crabby, I think it's hilarious how you seem really perturbed about the amount of cake the parents are eating at play groups! No one has special food for the adults around me.

It is kind of funny -- and no one else seemed perturbed in the least. The size of these slices of cake were just unbelivable and all the adults zoomed in like vultures going in for the kill! It was like the equivalent of 3-4 dense cupcakes per slice. They have two of these playgroups a week so most parents get twice the cake! (My vegetarian-but-not-vegan husband was thrilled to have a giant slice of cake.) And then they were all too busy eating and didn't really seem to be paying attention to their kids, which was fine because it's not like the kids were about to do anything awful or dangerous, but it was just like, "abandon everything, there is caaaaaaaake! Descend!!"

I know I'm way more of a health-food junkie than most people, especially around here (although I do eat digestive biscuits and occasionally crisps and vegan doughnuts from the co-op once a fortnight and I make cupcakes sometimes and am not crazy strict is what I'm sayin' here), I just thought it was weird that the whole focus of the playgroup seemed to be the adults eating cake and then the mixed message it sends while the kids got toast and fruit. If we went anywhere and had cake in front of Raygold without sharing (it's been quite a while since we were there, he wasn't really into solids back then), he would freak out and probably cry in frustration and despair. Beetroot would probably rather have fruit (I'm kind of the same way), but I think most kids would prefer the cake.

I didn't expect a playgroup (it's from 9:15-11:15am) to have snacks at all, really.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:11 am 
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i'm in australia, and that leaving babies outside to sleep doesn't really work when you have poisonous snakes and large pythons in your garden hahaha.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:49 am 
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❀madam dahlia❀ wrote:
i'm in australia, and that leaving babies outside to sleep doesn't really work when you have poisonous snakes and large pythons in your garden hahaha.

Yeah, I'm hesitant to let my kids play outside by themselves (other than the fact that Beetroot would just run off because he doesn't understand boundaries) because a black adder was spotted in our yard last year!

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:24 pm 
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❀madam dahlia❀ wrote:
i'm in australia, and that leaving babies outside to sleep doesn't really work when you have poisonous snakes and large pythons in your garden hahaha.


And well, Australia movie stereotypes about dingoes and babies, you know how that goes!

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:49 pm 
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annak wrote:
I read a book about the snack thing (well, not JUST about that, but for anyone who is interested in cultural food differences and kids, it's a really fascinating book), "French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters." It definitely made me think!


Heh. I was the pickiest eater until I was well into my teens...
Snacks aren't a thing though. Kids eat breakfast, lunch, 4pm sweet snack (literally called "4pm", "le quatre heure") and dinner (around 7:30 or 8) and typically don't have access to food in between. Trying to grab a snack before dinner would get you yelled at in my house, because you should preserve your appetite for an actual meal.

Ariann wrote:
The stuff about Denmark and daycare philosophies is also really interesting. In the crowds I run in, there seems to be consensus that socializing is not that important for very young children, because the primary relationship is with the parent and kids don't really play *with* each other until they're older. I can say from my nuclear family (sample size: 8 children), that the one kid who has turned out the best socially and professionally started at a home-based daycare at 6 weeks. Stay-at-home parenting seems to be a major cultural ideal for Americans that we measure ourselves against even if we have no intention/desire/ability to stay at home.


I find it interesting that in the US, it seems that starting preschool / school late is seen as a good thing. In France, preschool (not daycare, actual school) starts at age 2 or 3, 6 hours a day, and I don't know of anyone who didn't go. If a parent stays at home, children who don't nap will sometimes only go in the morning.

Also, there seems to be much less hovering (from what I hear of American parents). Toddlers don't really play together, but they learn to play by themselves, side by side, without parental guidance. In parks you will see kids in the sandbox, on slides, wherever, and mothers sitting together on benches, keeping an eye on their kids from a distance but not intervening unless physical blows are exchanged.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:22 pm 
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TheCrabbyCrafter wrote:
a black adder was spotted in our yard last year!


I can't stop picturing Rowan Atkinson prowling around your lawn...

Image

And obviously, there are very different views even in the US :) I feel like I keep hearing how important socialization is for toddlers, and even many of the stay at home parents I know put their kids into a pre-school setting from 2 on to help them learn to socialize. I am looking for a good one for Leela, because she is such a social little bunny, and I know she'd love it. That said, 6 weeks would have been too early for me.

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Last edited by Tofulish on Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:26 pm 
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aelle wrote:
Also, there seems to be much less hovering (from what I hear of American parents). Toddlers don't really play together, but they learn to play by themselves, side by side, without parental guidance. In parks you will see kids in the sandbox, on slides, wherever, and mothers sitting together on benches, keeping an eye on their kids from a distance but not intervening unless physical blows are exchanged.


That sounds pretty normal in the US as well? Just based on when I've gone to parks with my cousins and friends & their kids as well as the park near my house where I see kids/parents. Tell them to go play, sit on the bench and just keep a general eye on them.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:47 pm 
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It really varies. In my area, there are a LOT of hoverers. I was once talking to some parents l at a playgroup (incidental encounter) and one woman said her personal rule was "1 foot away for every year of age." And everyone was agreeing with her and I was just thinking... You're going to stay within 3 feet of your 3 year old? Really? Can you run that fast?

She and her cohort really did seem to be hovering that much too. A pretty extreme case, but they're out there...

As for me, if we're at a park we've been to before, E runs free. He knows to stay inside the playground area and I trust that if he needs my help, he'll come and ask me. I actually really love watching his interactions with other people from a distance-- it's so interesting to see who he is to the world vs who he is with his family etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:10 pm 
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I wanted to say a bit more about the sleeping outside.
First, the kids are definitely warm enough. I've observed at mothergroup and here's the average rundown--
cotton bodysuit, long sleeve t-shirt, and pants, plus terry cloth socks
wool vest/cardigan and fitted wool earflap cap
hooded snowsuit of fleece or down insulate material
extra mukluk bootie things and mittens
then comes a sort of sleeping bag thing that you fasten your kid into, kind of like a giant swaddle made out of heavy down insulate
top with blankets as necessary; some people even have pram insulators that zip over the whole pram.

Second, a lot of Danish apartments are built in rowhouse style, no space between the buildings, but built in a loop. So there's no real front yard, but the buildings share a large common back garden/courtyard area, which is a popular place to stash your pram. If you're really high up you might put the baby on your balcony instead. And everyone I know uses a baby monitor, so they can hear the baby from inside the house/shop/cafe.

That said, no one I know has any concerns about kidnapping. In fact, at mothergroup recently another mom explained that her parents' Brazilian exchange student thought it was weird to put the babies outside, and said she'd never even considered not doing it, but maybe foreigners thought it was weird? Did I think it was weird? I said at first it was surprising but now I'm used to it, but that my SIL is gravely concerned that I'll leave tiny wu outside and has phoned to make sure that I'm not. I explained that SIL is worried someone will steal her. This cracked everyone up. All the other moms, giggling and saying "steal a baby! who would want to steal a baby?" Then someone said, "well, maybe in a big country like the US, but that would never happen here in Denmark."


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:12 pm 
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coldandsleepy wrote:
It really varies. In my area, there are a LOT of hoverers. I was once talking to some parents l at a playgroup (incidental encounter) and one woman said her personal rule was "1 foot away for every year of age." And everyone was agreeing with her and I was just thinking... You're going to stay within 3 feet of your 3 year old? Really? Can you run that fast?


This cracks me up. They should try taking care of twins.

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:33 pm 
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aelle wrote:
I find it interesting that in the US, it seems that starting preschool / school late is seen as a good thing. In France, preschool (not daycare, actual school) starts at age 2 or 3, 6 hours a day, and I don't know of anyone who didn't go. If a parent stays at home, children who don't nap will sometimes only go in the morning.


There's been a lot of debate recently about whether there should be publicly funded pre-K (school for four-year-olds), and the underlying assumption in a whole lot of what people are saying seems to be that "good" parents (white, suburban, at least middle class, educated, etc.) know how to take care of little kids and will teach them everything they need to know at that age, but those "other" parents don't know how to do all of that, and it's their kids who need preschool. There's some truth to that -- kids of poorer and less-educated parents do tend to start kindergarten knowing less of the letters and numbers and shapes and stuff, their parents have read a lot fewer books to them, and so on -- but I'm not sure that that's the only point of preschool. I think that a lot of preschool is learning how to get along with other kids, how to work out disagreements without running to an adult, and so on, and that's something that really can't be taught without being with a bunch of other kids.


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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:41 pm 
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Semen Strong
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The New York Times has a good discussion on public funded pre-K.

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/20 ... -necessary

I know NY is pushing to make kindergarten mandatory. A bill was passed last year: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/23/nyreg ... ances.html

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 Post subject: Re: Cultural differences in parenting/non-us citizens
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:34 pm 
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WRETCHED
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Isn't that the whole purpose of headstart? Although I think headstart is specifically for low income kids.

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