Being a parent is an interesting beast to tackle, because we all come from one of the 16,000+ people groups/cultures around the world, and every culture has a different idea of what parenting should look like. People tend to be defensive about their culture, but parents are downright ferocious about their techniques and most are totally convinced that their way is the only way. “If your three day old child isn’t eating pureed gluten free rice cake cakes and sushi for breakfast, she is going to be a moron and have an upside-down face.” Another culture will in an equally convincing and logical way say that practicing that same thing will cause the exact opposite results.
I am a parent in a bi-cultural family, and work every day with people from many different cultures. We don’t usually discuss child-rearing tactics because it wouldn’t end well. But in case you are a new parent desperately seeking parenting advice, and want to consider thinking outside the box, here are some tactics you might consider from around the world. I don’t agree with or recommend them all, but that’s just my culture talking.
Ngobe/Many Other Tribes
Who came up with the idea of the stroller? I have two kids and have never been able to use one because I travel too much to haul one around all the time, plus I haven’t found one that does well offroading. And I don’t mean fancy, prepared jogging trails that have some dirt but no rocks or roots that send your three-wheeled jogging stroller flipping into that one squirrel infested tree.
The Ngobe tribe in Panama and Costa Rica, as well as several other Latin American and African tribes would tell you, “Consider stuffing your baby into a lightweight, hand-weaved bag!” They are easy to travel with, very strong, and you can either sling the baby bag around your shoulder, or hang them from trees when you are tired, perhaps a hook on you wall? No more ten pound hunk of metal that immediately becomes useless with the tiniest of pebbles!
If you want to carry your baby, but not in a bag, you can see our favorite “baby wearing” device through our affiliate.
“When I Was a Kid, We Were Allowed to Work From the Time We Were Eight Years Old!”
This sentence was declared to me less than two weeks from writing this article by a tribal leader. First of all, I am certainly not promoting the practice of child labor by any means. I’m just saying that in most nations outside of Europe and North America, children as young as four years old are put to work, and even employed (often in horrible conditions) by massive companies to do anything from farming, to breaking rocks, to making gravel, to mining precious metals. We see this as an atrocious act (which it is), and yet to people such as the tribal man who told me this, these are not only seen as acceptable practices, but good. Paraphrasing a long conversation with this man, his argument is that kids have no work ethic these days, which is why they bounce around from one job to another with no stability, because they aren’t allowed to work when they are children.
Argentina: Sleeping at Night is For Pansy Children
I lived in Argentina for five months when my oldest son was about five. I thought I was a good, responsible parent because I made sure he was in bed at 8 pm every night. When I went to Argentina, I learned, as the many Argentinian parents happily informed me, I was in fact a bad parent. Argentina is a whole other planet. Most of the country (at least where I was) runs like this: Wake up at six or seven am, work or school until one pm, everything closes. Grocery stores, banks, circus’s, kidnapping enterprises, whatever, they all close and everyone takes a nap. That’s right, the country has a build in nap time (and you thought Canada took care of its people). Everyone goes to sleep from one until three or four pm, at which point they resume their day, which goes until about one am. For the five months I was there we had dinner at ten pm every night. Children frolicked and guffawed like it was a warm summer afternoon. Swimming, tag, you name it. At first I would buy my own food and have my kids in bed by what I thought was a decent hour, and got chewed out for it. What kind of parent makes his kids go to bed before midnight?
Denmark: Baby Crying Too Much in the Store? That’s What the Curb is For!
Ah Denmark, how I loved visiting you and your crazy land. I love that place, I could live there. And their solution to that one kid who won’t be quiet in the store, you know the one, is pretty unique. In Denmark when parents go shopping, they have zero qualms with leaving their babies out on the curb in their stroller/bag/baby-carrying device. Parents can get their shopping done, babies can hang out and babble to each other, gloating about how safe they are compared to the United States. Let’s face it, if you or I left our babies in front of a Walmart, no matter how landmine protected or carriage-gunned they were, our babies would be gone within five minutes, either by CPS or a pervmonster. And we would be in handcuffs. In Denmark, that wonderful land of safety, nobody would even consider any of that a possibility, and apparently there are no pervmonsters!
Have you seen or heard any interesting parenting advice during your travels? Share with us in the comments!