This Will Convince You That There Is No ‘Correct’ Way of Parenting
Parenting is a tough job. There are countless books written on the topic, countless ‘experts’ on the right and wrong ways to parent your child. There are also many products, services, self-help series, and courses that parents can join to raise their children better. But how did our previous generations raise kids without all this information overload? The answer is simple, every person, community, and family is different from the other, so is their parenting technique. Parenting takes different forms and has different priorities depending on the culture.
Strong Focus on Outdoors
In Norway, there is a strong institutional structure for childhood. This explains why most children enter Norway state-sponsored daycares at the age of one-year-old. It is important for them to do this before entering schooling and other organized activities. In Norway, parents get a state-sponsored leave for one year to ensure their children get ample outdoor time.
Norwegians believe that kids fare better in the daycare if it mirrors the country’s dedication to fresh air. The children nap and play outdoors too. In Scandinavia, there is also much focus on outdoors, even in the chilliest of winters. It is a culture in these regions of the world.
In Japan, childrearing is predominantly focussed on cultivating independence. It is not uncommon to see children out with their siblings, running errands without any parental supervision. Kids as young as four years old along with their seven-year-old siblings go around Tokyo cities and crossing the subways. However, one can never see something like this in America. For example, parents would probably have social services to visit them if the children do not have parental guidance!
Again, it is a matter of culture. On the same lines of independence comes the Jewish culture. These parents are strict and there is an obligation on them to teach the children how to swim. This stems from the fact that parenting in Jewish culture revolves around preparing your child to leave you as the parent and not to rely on you. Developing resourcefulness and self-reliance is key.
Rights and Democratic Relationships
In Scandinavia, there is also a focus on a democratic sort of relationship between parents and children. The children have certain rights from their parents and which they exercise accordingly. This rings true in Sweden as well. For example, a child has the right to have access to their parents’ bodies for comfort and safety. The parents should allow their kids into their bedrooms at any time.
Here a parent who denies the child this right at the risk of being labeled a neglectful parent. However, in Korean culture, it is different – the focus is on obedience rather than on democracy. Statistics say that Korean parents tend to actually spend more time holding their babies and providing physical contact. Yet their focus in parenting is actually not at all like that of Sweden or Scandinavia in that obedience is key. There is no democratic relationship between children and parents. Co-sleeping with family members is very common in Asia, though.
In America, it is commonplace for parents to place much attention on pushing their children to perform well academically. The high focus on grooming children for success stems from fears of children failing in today’s’ highly competitive world. Even in some Asian cultures, parenting focusses strongly on academics and on college acceptance. This is to the point where children only a few months old are listening to tapes. They believe it is never to soon to start.
In these areas the role of the parent is as an educator and that children have to learn and then respect this role and repay the parent by making sacrifices. This is in stark contrast to the parenting culture of the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, children are left to their own devices and the focus is on scheduled rest, healthy food, and a pleasant environment for development. There is no rush on education on kids. The kids do not learn to even read before they go to school.
Perhaps it is time to face the truth that there are dangers present in believing that there is only a single correct method of parenting. Taking a look at yourself and your own source of information will tell you how strong your culture plays a role in your parenting styles. Do you turn to your own parents for guidance, or to the next popular self-help book? In a world where there is more and more diversity in every part of the globe, we have to come to accept great change lies in the future, and this goes for parenting as well. Embrace the change, and don’t be hard on yourself to accept the norm – choose what if best and most comfortable for your family and your child. Now, that’s the right thing to do!
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