When I wrote my first article on parenting tips from around the world, I found that there is a vast sea of different styles and beliefs in the 16,000+ cultures on the planet. There is so much I simply couldn’t fit it all into one article. And there is too much weirdness, questionable origins, and brilliant advice out there to not share with the world. Behold, part dos of our Bits of Parenting Advice From Around the World series.
1. Sweden: Your Bed is Your Babies’ Bed
I travel a lot, and spend almost all my year overseas with my family. These travels, and the tiny places we often sleep in, have forced us to allow our children to sleep in our bed with us from the time they are born until they reach about five years old. Boy have we been criticized for that! “Not teaching your children to be independent,” they say. “Your special mommy/daddy time isn’t going to be as awesome as ours,” they say. But the good ol’ Swedes, an entire nation would disagree with you my critical friends. In Sweden they stress the importance of the rights of children, and one of those rights is the sleep in bed with their parents. This is because they believe parents are comforted by the being able to wedge between mommy and daddy and be comforted by the heat emanating from their bodies. Any parent in that nation who doesn’t allow this is considered a bad and neglectful parent. How about that? And the Swedes invented meatballs or something so they have to know what they are talking about.
2. Bali: The Ground is Unclean
“Of course the ground is unclean! That’s why I always carry my hand sanitizer and wet wipes,” says the protective mom as she melts away another wave of the germ army invading her son’s hand after he lightly brushed against a tree she forgot to sterilize. But your cleanliness is like a kindergartner trying to craft a masterpiece out of macaroni compared to the people a Bali. They believe the ground is so utterly unclean that their children are not allowed to step foot on it until they are 210 days old. They don’t even name their children until they are 105 days old! Not only that, because children don’t touch the ground until so late in infancy, they never even crawl, which is a disgusting habit. They go straight from mama’s arms to walking. Boom. Child raised.
3. Multiple Tribes: Emotions Are For the Weak
In many tribal cultures, showing emotion is a sign of weakness, therefore children are completely ignored until they learn to be emotionless zombies. They sit in that tree staring the snarling bear right in the eyes without so much as a lip quiver, because being scared is for chumps. When the river rages and takes away the crops, or someone comes and steals their lollipop, they just stare and take it like a boss. Did they just win a huge soccer tournament I organized with Two Dudes Moves and won a giant trophy? They don’t care, not a smirk. Being happy about winning is for the weak. Whatever.
4. Norway: A Frozen Baby is a Healthy Baby
Doesn’t just saying the word Norway make you feel cold? It makes me want to take my son and wrap him in a huge fur coat filled with newspaper and puppies to keep him warm. I might also stuff a couple of puppies in my own shoes for warmth. Now, imagine it’s nap time in winter, but instead of lovingly laying your baby in a puppy-lined crib with the heater cranked up to eighty degrees, you take her outside in her stroller into the snow. Little puffs of mist burst from her mouth into the air and freeze above her face, a tinge of blue creeps into the tip of her nose. You smile, plant a wet kiss on her forehead, then pour a tab of tepid water to unstick your lips before leaving her behind and going back inside to bake those seal fat cookies your mouth has been watering for all day.
Doesn’t sound like something you would do? Then you aren’t Norwegian! Because that is exactly what they do, and have done for generations. You see, Norwegians believe that air inside the house is dirtier than outside the house, so from the time they are infants babies are set outside to nap even if it’s freezing outside. It may sound insane, but according to at least one study, babies who slept outside stayed asleep longer than those inside, and it wasn’t because the babies had turned into baby-shaped blocks of ice.