Many, many moons ago, I started a series on the book Parenting Without Borders. Before I finished writing about the book, I took a bit of a hiatus. Since I saw a half-written post in my drafts section when I returned to the website, I thought I’d tidy it up and publish it. For those of you unfamiliar with the book, the first paragraph will be super-helpful in reviewing what you’ll find throughout the book, as I link back to each post in the series and provide a quick sentence that explains the gist.
In the Introduction, we broached the idea that the way other cultures parent might be more “right” than the way that the culture in North America parents, as discussed in the book Parenting Without Borders. In Part 1, we looked at some of the different cultural thoughts around sleep. There was also that stunning example of how it’s normal for babies in Scandinavia to be found taking a nap on the terrace in the dead of winter! In Part 2, we explored “stuff” and how having more of it might not be best for our children. In Part 3, we looked at how different cultures relate to food in the context of parenting. In Part 4, we looked at how saying “good job” to our little ones might not have the effect we think it does. In Part 5, we talked about the virtues of allowing our little ones the space to work through problems on their own. In Part 6, we examined the importance of unstructured “play.”In Part 7 and Part 8, we explored what education is like in East Asia and Finland. In Part 9, we looked at cultural notions of kindness in raising kids. In Part 10, we explored the possibility that parenting might be fostering a sense of helplessness in children today. And finally, today, we’ve reached the conclusion.
From the conclusion of the book, I’ve pulled out a few quotes that really stood out for me, so I thought I’d share them here with maybe a sentence or two from me following each.
In Kenya every child is a precious gift — not only to the mother, but to the whole society. People greet a new mom with the words, “Thank you. Thank you, and welcome to this guest that you’ve brought to us.”
What a lovely sentiment? Can you imagine if this was what was said to each new mother in the days that followed their bundle of joy’s entrance into the world?
In our zeal to make sure our own child has everything he needs (because if we don’t look out for him, who will?), caring for one another is inevitably low on our list of priorities. Instead of finding ways to help support and encourage parents, we give them space and stay out of their way (but all too often judge each other’s parenting choices, secretly believing that if someone else’s child is having problems, only his parents are to blame). As a result, in [the USA], parents are on their own.
Any new parents out there? Any new moms out there who feel completely alone staying at home with their new son/daughter? Yeah, I’ve heard this feeling expressed many times over for folks here in North America and it makes me sad. It makes me sad that we isolate new parents at precisely the time they need the “village” the most.
Immigrant families aren’t a threat to America’s moral culture. Rather, America is a threat to immigrant children’s moral development.
This was a quote that, when I came back to it, felt surprisingly powerful to read (especially in the context of some of the current state of affairs in the US).
Growing up in an environment that priorities care over competition and cooperation over judgment benefits all children and all families.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be reared (or to rear) in an environment that de-emphasized competition and promoted care. In an environment that promoted prosocial behaviour? An environment that held in the highest esteem behaviour that was helping? What might the world look like if that were true?
Good parenting is […] about how we’re involved and what we focus on cultivating.
In the end, as is the case with many things in life, it’s less about the “what” and more about the “how.” It’s less about what you’re doing and more about how you’re doing it. It’s not the act, it’s how you make them feel.