Motherhood

18 Surprising Things About Parenting In Thailand

eks hometown

Today we are excited to begin the fourth year of our Motherhood Around The World series! To kick things off, we’re heading to Thailand. Ciana Hardwick lives in Phuket with her husband, Ek, and their adorable two-year-old daughter, Aerina — and they’re expecting daughter number two any day now. Here, Ciana shares 18 surprising things about living in Thailand, including how people hold babies differently and the importance of showing respect for elders…

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

Ciana’s background: I grew up in Maryland and went to college in Philadelphia. I had always wanted to live abroad, and I ended up choosing Thailand because it’s a relatively easy place to get a job and a visa. I traveled around the country for the first six months, then I settled in as a teacher in a mid-size city in Central Thailand called Suphanburi. This is where I began to get an inside look at the country. I learned Thai, made Thai friends and dated Thai men. I ate local foods, visited temples, and hung out where local young people went at night. Originally, I hadn’t planned on being here longer than a year — but I fell in love with country and realized I wanted to stay.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

I moved to Bangkok, where I worked as a tutor and met my husband, who is a police officer. After we got married, he got transferred to Chiang Saen, a small town on the Mekong river. (I quit my job to go with him, but plan on going back to teaching once our children are in school.) It was a beautiful but quiet place with not much to do. We lived there for two and half years, during which our first daughter was born. A year ago, we moved to Phuket, an island city.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On coming to Thailand: This country is beautiful – with gorgeous islands, mountains and jungles, bustling cities, the greenest rice fields, flavorful fresh food, and a vibrant culture that’s kept very much alive through holidays and traditions. Phuket, where we live now, is Thailand’s biggest island. It’s quite mountainous, and there are many sandy and rocky beaches. Our apartment is in Phuket City, the provincial capital.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand
Ciana and Aerina visit a fish spa and get a pedicure in which tiny fish suck and nibble on your feet to clean and exfoliate them.

On family sleeping arrangements: Our daughter Aerina is two-and-a-half and still sleeps with us, which is not unusual here. It’s very common for a family to sleep in the same room, although usually the mom will sleep with the baby and the dad will sleep on a mattress on the floor or even in another room. Thai mothers generally don’t want to be separated from their children, so that takes priority over the husbands. I know a family where the younger child sleeps with the mom, and the older child sleeps with the dad in a bed on the floor. Ek loves to tell people about how my parents kicked me out of their bedroom at two weeks old, because Thai parents would never do that!

On date nights: Since Aerina was born, we haven’t really done date nights. Like all the Thai parents we know, we go out as a family instead. Some American friends in Chiang Saen offered to watch our daughter so we could have a date night for just the two of us, but Ek couldn’t wrap his head around leaving Aerina behind. It is such a kid-loving culture that the popular evening venues are usually big outdoor restaurants with live music where children can run around wherever they want and everyone plays with them.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On maternity fashion: Women here are mostly pretty stylish and are heavily influenced by Korean fashion, but the choices for maternity clothes are limited. When women (even celebrities) get pregnant, they have no real options other than smock dresses with little cartoons on them. Breastfeeding shirts are usually big and loose with a zipper down the front and a patterned design or cartoon. It’s definitely not a time Thai women expect to feel sexy.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On C-sections: C-sections are extremely common here, so after someone asks you how many months along you are, they’ll typically ask you if you’re going to operate or go natural. When I say I’m hoping for another natural birth, people are quite surprised. Many women I know here are scared of labor pain and recovery — if the baby seems big or there is any type of risk at all, a C-section is much more common.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On lucky numbers: People we know here are really into lucky numbers, so they might go to a fortune teller or monk (depending on their beliefs) to choose the best time and date for a C-section for their baby. My daughter was born on Christmas Eve, and the hospital was full of women with C-sections scheduled for Christmas Day. Even for those who don’t celebrate the holiday, December 25th is a special lucky number day. After Aerina was born, everyone asked me the number of the delivery room, the exact time of her birth and her weight because they wanted to know her numbers. Some people pay to get special phone numbers or license plates. My husband went to a monk to find out the best day for our wedding and when to buy a car.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On grandmothers helping with babies: After taking about a month off after a baby is born — during which traditionally they are not supposed to do anything or go outside so their body can heal — mothers will typically go back to work and the maternal grandmother will come to take care of the baby until he or she starts school. This is basically expected, and in this baby-loving culture, most grandmothers seem happy to do it. If the mom isn’t working or the grandmother is too frail, then the mom may move home near the end of her pregnancy to stay at her parents’ house for the birth and for several months to a year after. The father will visit whenever he’s free. It’s just kind of understood that taking care of a baby is hard work, and you need the help of your mom.

On the importance of education: Ek’s parents died years ago, and my parents are in the States, so we’ve been raising Aerina without the help of grandparents. People here are surprised that we don’t plan to send Aerina to live with my parents in the States. Education is paramount in Thai culture; if our friends here had a chance to educate their child in America they would absolutely do it. But, of course, I don’t want to be separated from her, and my parents have their own busy lives.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On greeting people: Showing proper respect is a huge aspect of this culture. When you greet people, you put your hands together in front of you in a hand motion that is called “wai.” You also wai to say thank you. Children learn to wai very early on — at around nine months old. Parents will bring their child’s hands together for them, until they learn to do it themselves. Aerina will wai when she meets people.

On knowing everyone’s ages: The younger (or lower status) person always does the wai first. So, it’s important to know how old people are here, and it’s not rude to ask someone, even a woman. If you ask Ek how old any of his friends or coworkers are, he always knows. People also often know how much money their friends and relatives make; and whoever makes the most typically pays the bill at a group meal.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On addressing people by age: In Thailand, at least where we’ve lived, you rarely call anyone by just their name. In casual settings, you call someone a bit older than you “big brother” or “big sister.” Much older men would be “uncle” and older women are usually “grandma.” Some of the first words Thai babies learn might be the words for older and younger sibling, so when we meet a young child, the mom or grandma will always want to know exactly how old Aerina is so they can instruct their child what to call her as a sign of respect.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

Ek’s aunt holding Aerina Thai-style, with the legs in front, mostly straight, and not spread apart at all.

On straight legs: Many Thai parents I’ve met are very concerned with their babies not being bowlegged. Every time you give a baby a bath, you’re supposed pull and massage them straight, and some older people won’t even let them wear diapers because it causes too much separation between the legs. But what surprised me most is that no one holds babies or even toddlers on their hips. It’s always hard for me when I pick up Aerina’s little friends because they’re just a passive deadweight in your arms — they don’t help grip onto your hip, like American kids do. There was also huge concern when I went out with my daughter in the Moby wrap and later an Ergo carrier, since her legs were spread out — I got a comment from everyone I encountered.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On disciplining children in public: You never see parents get cross with their children in public — displays of anger are not very accepted. I think the fact that there is rarely just one adult taking care of a child makes a huge difference. You never see the exasperated sleep-deprived mom trying to wrangle her child into the shopping cart, because the dad or grandma are there too. I’ve definitely been that mom, though, and I know people sometimes stare at me, but trying to grocery shop with a toddler is hard work and sometimes Aerina needs to know that she can’t always have her way!

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On birthday parties: Birthdays here are very low key. My Thai friend explained to me that some people think it’s rude to have a big celebration on the day the mother had to go through so much pain. Birthdays are seen as a time to do something good for others, so they can have good luck through the rest of the year. Often people will go to the temple and make a donation, and receive a blessing from a monk. Ek donates blood on his birthday. I went to a kid’s birthday party where the adults mostly sat around eating and drinking and the birthday boy didn’t seem bothered at all that the focus wasn’t on him.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On Buddhism in everyday life: Buddhism is a central part of the culture — my husband and most people we know are Buddhist — and beautiful temples are everywhere. Kids have Buddhism classes at school, and monks do weddings (ours, too!), funerals, ceremonies at schools and work events. There are small shrines in many houses, too. We aren’t teaching Aerina to be Buddhist (she can make that decision when she’s older), but she will definitely learn all about how to properly respect monks and Buddha images.

On being careful with your feet: The Buddhist belief is that the head is sacred and clean, but the feet are dirty. You have to take off your shoes before you enter most places — not a mall or a big restaurant, but definitely a small shop. When you visit monks, you have to sit with your feet behind you, so they are never even pointing at a monk. And no one puts their bags or purses on the floor, since that’s where people’s feet have been. It now feels a bit weird to me when I go to expats’ houses and everyone just throws their bag in the corner, because I’ve gotten used to always keeping mine on a chair or my lap.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On meals: There’s not a huge differentiation in meals here and I still can’t get used to a full rice, meat and vegetable breakfast, so I usually eat toast and oatmeal. Even in the morning, food stands will sell sticky rice and grilled pork skewers, which Aerina and Ek love. Moms might make their kids a rice soup, or fried rice, or an omelet on top of rice. Occasionally, if we have some leftover meat, I’ll make rice for Ek and Aerina in the morning, and when we visit Ek’s family they set out vegetables and curry and whatever they have left from the night before.

Motherhood Around The World: Thailand

On loving the Thai approach: For me, living in Thailand is much easier than living in the States. Thai people are so friendly and kind, and being aggressive is really looked down on. Rarely do you hear horns being honked or people yelling, and everything just feels calmer, which I love. For the first time in my adult life, I feel relaxed and at ease. I’d like to stay here forever.

Thank you so much, Ciana!

P.S. The full Motherhood Around the World series, featuring 19 other moms living abroad.

(Photos courtesy Ciana Hardwick. Interview by Megan Cahn.)

  1. I live in Laos. Gave birth naturally to children. Much the same.

  2. Thanks Ciana
    I have a question my partner and I are seriously considering moving to Phuket with our 6 month old daughter next year. He is from a small village and really doesn’t like city life or a lot of people. What is Phuket like for this, I know it is very touristy too, is it easy to find somewhere to live outside the city in more remote areas.

    • Phuket isn’t Bangkok, but it is pretty busy and there’s traffic. There are plenty of less touristy areas, but a lot of the little local village areas (rubber farming or fishing) are Muslim Thai communities, so it might be a different culture than what he comes from.

  3. Beautiful post! Being a mother here I’ve started to whine a bit so it was really good reading a piece with so much positive wibes.

    • I read your latest post, and I definitely felt a lot of that frustration after my first was born, I know it can be hard! Second time around it’s been much easier! Plus I’m pretty sure all over the world there is a problem of giving too much advice to pregnant or new moms, with just slight variations on the old wives tales :)

  4. Beautiful post! Being a mother here I’ve started to whine a bit so it was really good reading a piece with sommuch positive wibes.

  5. This is great!! I have been in Cambodia for the summer and a lot of life here is very similar to what she described about Thailand. For me, it feels very different from visiting Latin America, which is super loud and high energy. Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Sara says...

    Ciana- I have a friend living in Thailand now and he and his wife are expecting a baby in November. She is native and he is from the States. I would love to surprise them and send a gift…do you have any suggestions as to items they might find useful?

    • Imported baby items are usually double or triple the price here so anything would be appreciated! I love the muslin swaddle blankets I got from the states because they are so lightweight and dry fast, perfect for this weather, and Thai friends have commented how soft they are. Kids clothes from the states are cuter than here so that’s a good option too. Also baby books! I’m sure they’ll love anything!

  7. Belinda says...

    So nice to read, especially as I am in phuket right now with my kids! Am now wondering what the resort maid thought while we were telling our kids off the other morning while she cleaned our room….
    It’s true, the Thai people r so kind and gentle.

  8. Joanna says...

    What a wonderful article; I spent three weeks going around Thailand a number of years ago and loved the place. It was so chilled out and relaxed and children were everywhere and so well behaved. There was such a lovely culture of respect and manners.

  9. Julia says...

    Thank you for this great article! Within the context of Buddhism and the family friendly society, I am wondering wether there is any social pressure regarding family planning/birth control in Thailand? Is it widely accepted to use contraceptives, and are people expected to have more than 1 child?

    • I’ve never noticed any pressure about that. Most families I’ve met have 1 or 2 children. Since I’m having a second girl, people often tell me I should have a third to have a boy, but actually I rarely meet families with 3 or more. Birth control pills are available in any pharmacy, you don’t need a prescription for them.

  10. Sonya says...

    I’m so happy that Thailand was featured! I visited Thailand a couple of years ago, and it easily became one of my favorite places ever. Can’t wait to go back. We took our daughter, who was 18 months at the time, and I loved how she was spoiled by everyone we met. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to travel around there with her. Such a warm and welcoming culture.

  11. Mai says...

    While Thailand sounds like a lovely place to raise a family from this interview I am struggling to reconcile Ciana’s highlighting of the country’s child loving culture with it being one of the worst offenders of child prostitution and human trafficking in the world. That said, I loved her last statement about for the first time feeling relaxed and at ease and wanting to stay in Thailand forever. Nothing feels better than finding your way home, wherever that may be in this world.

  12. Yessss! My favorite series is back :)

  13. Tricia says...

    Love this! Thailand is one of my favorite places in the world. I sensed that everyone around me was kind and well-meaning when I was there. They love to teach you about their culture and language. I always figured it was because Buddhism is such a big part of their culture. They just want very little and are willing to give whatever you need. And they’re happy.

  14. MC says...

    Christmas come early! this is my absolute favorite series!

  15. I am from the Philippines living in the UK. Her story is familiar to me as this is how we also raise kids in the Philippines. This is such alovely read.

  16. Claire says...

    I just love this series so much! Can’t wait to see the rest.

  17. Samantha says...

    Oh my God!! I can’t believe Parenting around the world is back! I’m so happy I could cry :’) I really, really hope you can publish a book one day with all of the families!

    • karinny says...

      Great idea!!!

  18. Julie says...

    I really enjoyed reading this and learning about how things are done in another country. Thank you!

  19. Heather says...

    I love this series – thank you for bringing it back!

  20. Kelly says...

    What a beautiful story. Thanks for continuing this series – I enjoy it so much.

  21. so much to love about this glimpse of ciana’s life.

  22. Allegra says...

    This made me kinda wanna move to Thailand and start a family there. Thank you Ciana and Megan!

  23. Jane says...

    I just love this Motherhood Around the World series! It’s so interesting to me – and I don’t even have children of my own!

  24. Deirdre says...

    Thanks for sharing, I find this so fascinating…

  25. Deirdre says...

    Thanks for sharing this, I find it so fascinating.

  26. I absolutely love this series! I love that the Thai culture seems to be so family oriented. Especially the part on grandmothers helping with children… mothering is a lot of work! I’ll take any help I can get!

  27. sara says...

    I can’t believe she didn’t talk about how toilet training is different in Thailand! That’s a BIG DEAL – babies don’t wear nappies! I think the interviewer really missed out on that one.

    • There’s definitely more than 18 interesting things about parenting in Thailand, but Megan did a great job editing our very long interview to highlight a few of them! It’s true toilet training is very different here, although diapers are becoming much more common with the younger generation of moms. Aerina always wore diapers but she was still potty trained much earlier than the average American toddler I think, because of the attitude toward it here.

  28. Paula says...

    I always find it interesting how similar some cultures are. I’m Eastern European and while we have nothing to do with Buddhism, we too have similar notions about feet. It’s more about respect and hygiene, then anything else. You would never go to anyone’s house and wear your shoes inside-home owners typically have slippers for visitors (two types of slippers cozy for winter and light weight ones for summers). While we don’t take shoes off in stores, or places of worship, no one puts their bags on the floors. Aside from the floor being dirty, it’s also considered “bad luck” (some pagan thing). And the child rearing is similar-all date nights are family nights and kids can play and other adults will watch them and it’s totally normal, nobody rolls their eyes at children, they way I see people do in the USA. The biggest difference is, everyone disciplines children and it’s not uncommon to find an elderly (who are also very respected here and are seen everywhere in the cities, not shooed away in nursing homes) disciplining a stranger’s child-which I think is great! Love this series.

    • Nicky says...

      Great observation! I come from a Filipino background and while we’re not buddhist, we and our guests take off shoes in the house and wear slippers provided by the host. My parents have a shoe rack just for flip flops and slippers of all shapes and sizes. I know my other Asian and South Asian friends have a similar custom.

    • So interesting! Yes my husband thinks it’s so strange how in American movies people are always wearing shoes while lounging on their beds; it does seem unhygienic! Your country sounds like a lovely place to have children too!

    • Chelsea says...

      Same here! I’m from Hawaii and we always take our shoes off before entering anyone’s home. I think a prevalent Asian culture with Buddhist roots is responsible for this, but mostly it’s just become a sign of respect. My fiance and I live on the Continental U.S. now and many of our friends find it a little strange when we ask them to remove their shoes before entering our home. Additionally, Hawaii is very very family-centric in raising children. We plan to move back home once we’re done with school for the sole principle of having our kids raised around our families and friends.

    • Samantha says...

      I live in the Dominican Republic and people rarely use shoes of any kind inside their homes (maybe flip flops in the kitchen while you cook, since the kitchen floor gets dirty easily and you just mop it when you’re done cooking either way), and there’s usually no problem with letting your visitors take their shoes off, but you won’t see people asking others to take their shoes off. I also find it strange how people on American shows always have “going out clothes” on (jeans and sneakers for example), instead of changing into more comfortable clothes when they’re home. I could never wear jeans inside my own house! Unless we have visitors and it’s not an appropriate occasion for leggins. We don’t put our bags on the floor either, people say that your money will run away from you if you do, and it’s kind of a big deal. People will be like “Nooo! pick up that bag from the floor! The money will run away!”, lol.

    • Arzu says...

      Basically EVERYWHERE in the world other than North America and some parts of Western Europe people take off their shoes in their homes and don’t put anything that will later touch their body on the floor.

  29. Gina says...

    I moved to Thailand to teach English after working the cut throat corporate world of NYC. I love how she said its the first time in her life she feels relaxed and at ease. I couldnt have said it better myself! Its funny how you can be so calm and centered as a foreigner across the world but feel so anxious and uneasy in your own city. My favorite motherhood series thus far, it was so accurate and hit close to home for me. xx

    • It’s amazing how quick the de-stressing happened too! I just feel like I am such a nicer person here than I was in Philly, because there is so much less tension. Although it did take me awhile to adjust to how slowly people would walk here and especially how no one walks up escalators! At first it would drive me crazy when trying to catch the BTS (skytrain in Bangkok), but now I never walk up escalators either!

    • Laurel says...

      I moved from the US to Australia two years ago and am constantly shocked at how much easier it is to live here on a visa vs. in the States as a citizen. The quality of life is vastly better!

  30. Candice says...

    Hi Ciana- thanks for sharing. I’m an expat Mom in Bangkok and I’ve really learned to love Thailand as well. Enjoy the rainy season!

    • This summer was extra brutal (especially being pregnant), so I definitely am! I was in Bangkok during Songkran and it was even hotter than Phuket, really we couldn’t do anything except go to the mall! Where everyone else was of course too!

  31. Angela says...

    That’s how we hold our children too – we live in Northern Ireland. I’ve never noticed if everyone does it but its just more comfortable for me to do it this way! Ciana’s sounds like a lovely, relaxed lifestyle. I’d definitely love the level of support that everyone gives mothers in Thailand.

    • Katie S says...

      I have serious hips and large boobs so the only comfortable way to hold my babe from day 1 was to the side resting on the hips :D

    • You must have much stronger arms than me!

  32. I’m a Thai expat currently living in Japan. The spiritual and the c-section parts are very spot-on. I miss how easy going the country is, would love to move back if I have a chance!

    • Japan seems so lovely too, I would love to go! It’s just so expensive compared to here though!

  33. I agree re: holding babies. I always put Colin on my hips as its easier :-)

  34. Johanna says...

    I’m so excited this series is back! I love learning about other cultures through the lens of motherhood.

  35. Caroline, UK says...

    I love this series. It’s absolutely fascinating. Looking forward to reading more. And I’m heading off into the archives now to read the ones I’ve missed.

  36. Mo says...

    Motherhood Around the World is truly a summer tradition now! It doesn’t feel like summer without it.

  37. Tori says...

    Perfect timing. I’m moving to Phuket in a month with my husband and then 10 month old son. Would love to get in touch with Ciana but can’t find a contact on her blog.

    • It’d be great to meet up! Can you leave a comment on one of my blog posts? And I can contact you through there?

  38. Maggie says...

    Yay!!! My favorite series too. Love these posts… I don’t travel but I like reading about other places and peoples. I know it’s about mothering and not marriage, but curious how she finds the faith aspect affects their relationship (I’m assuming she is not a practicing Buddhist herself).

    • Buddhism in Thailand, at least from what I’ve experienced, is very non-aggressive; no one, not even my husband, has ever tried to pressure me about it. And no one seemed at all bothered that my husband didn’t choose a Buddhist wife, there’s no rules on that. I was fine with having a Buddhist wedding and I’m happy to go with him to the temple when he wants, even though I’m not religious, so I guess it just hasn’t been a big issue?

  39. Kat says...

    Absolutely love this. Love seeing a comment from Ciana’s mom too!!

  40. Daynna says...

    SO happy the series is back!

    Please forgive me if this has been asked already, but how are Ciana and Aerina’s names pronounced? I’m a huge name nerd and absolutely love both of these names!

    See-ann-uh or See-aw-nuh?
    Air-ee-nuh or Air-ih-nuh?

    • See-ah-nuh and Ay (long A sound)-ree-nuh

  41. Jill says...

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. Such a great perspective!

  42. Such an awesome interview! I love this series.

  43. Mel says...

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love this series!

  44. Kate says...

    I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is well written and brings back so many memories. I miss the beautiful people of Thailand, the culture and everything about it. This article makes me want to move back and raise my children there.

    • I would love to live in Chiang Mai one day!

  45. This is by far the best one of these so far, in my humble opinion!! Having parented abroad myself (in a very different type of culture than Thailand) I am fascinated by these ideas and cultural traits. Thank you so much, Ciana!!!

  46. Alexandra says...

    Fascinating about how to hold babies!

  47. Alice says...

    Yes! It’s back! So happy.
    I love how Ciana is raising her childdaughter in a buddhist environment without forcing any beliefs on her. This is how I (try to) raise my sons. And Ciana herself seems so sunny and chilled. Very beautiful family.
    I live in Asia and have been to Thailand many times, and find the people incredibly calm and warm. A nation of smilers. I LOVE the food, the food stalls are amazing and the breakfast options are right up my street. However, the motorbikes and driving, for those unaccustomed to Mad Max style driving often found in Asia, is not calm. Beeping or not!

    • I didn’t drive at all my first 3 years here! I eased back into in the North, which was much calmer. Phuket is crazy though with the traffic and driving, but I think if we moved to Bangkok now I would still not have the courage to drive!

  48. Laura says...

    Ciana is a wonderful mom. We love all 4 of them. Sigh… this Grandmother misses living life with them. Thanks for sharing her story and letting me enjoy them a bit more while I sit here in Texas. Thailand is a gorgeous country full of beautiful people. And it was probably at least 2 1/2 weeks before we booted her out.

    • Best comment ever! Kudos to you for allowing your daughter to live her dream. While we were abroad, my mom threw in a little pressure and/or guilt trip every time we spoke! That was at least 3-4 times per week. Sigh. Now we are back in the US and planning to go back abroad! But I’m glad we tried it. No more what ifs or wondering what it would be like to live here. I admire you! Ciana is so lucky to have a supportive mom!

    • Stephanie says...

      Haha! At least 2 1/2 weeks!

    • Dee says...

      Hi Ciana’s Mom!

    • Yes very lucky for my supportive parents! And they’ll be here in Thailand in a few weeks! Actually we lived abroad (in Europe) for a few years when I was young, and my dad traveled all around the world for work trips, so they always taught me to be respectful in other countries and cultures, and I think that’s what set me up for living successfully abroad.

  49. Brittany says...

    Hooray! My favorite time of year is this series!

  50. Carly says...

    What a serendipitous encounter! I am Canadian and my husband is Thai and we are expecting our first baby any day now. We met in Thailand ten years ago and have been living in Canada for the past seven. I loved reading about your experience and I can’t wait until we go back for our next visit. :)

    • So exciting, congratulations!

  51. I love these articles so much. They definitely give an insight on what it’s like being a mother around the world.
    I would love if you did an article on parenting in Singapore.

  52. Van says...

    The straight legs thing when holding children is seen in Vietnam too!

    • So interesting, that was one of the things that surprised me most when my daughter was born! My Indonesian friend said it’s the same there too, but only applies until they are 7 months old, after that you can start carrying them on your hip.

  53. Meghan says...

    My favorite series from my favorite blog! Keep up the good work!

  54. Kate says...

    Thailand is one of my favorite places in the entire world! This series is so informative, I love hearing all the different accounts of motherhood from around the world.

    xx

    bombshell-to-be.blogspot.com

  55. Wonderful series! I took an anthro class this semester and saw a lot of our ‘natural’ qualities in the way yo explained how children are treated in Thailand.

    Patricia | http://thesundayusual.blogspot.com

  56. Karen T. says...

    Yesssssss!!!!

  57. Loving this series! I’m not a mother but it gives an interesting new perspective of how fundamental life between different countries is so different.

  58. Briana says...

    This is fascinating. I’m not a mother but love this series so so much! So excited it is back!

  59. Nina says...

    Lovely. so excited to see this starting again. What a nice insight on the country too…I want to move there but I think I beep my horn too much! I grew up in Philadelphia and when I moved West I was told I do! :)

    • Johanna says...

      I’m also a native Pennsylvanian living on the west coast (in Oregon now after 8 years in New Mexico) and drivers out here drive me crazy! The slower pace out here is good for me overall, but my inner east coaster comes out when I’m stuck behind a west coast driver!

    • I still beep my horn sometimes, even though no one else does. I guess it’s a hard habit to break!

  60. Ang says...

    I love this series. Thank you all so much for sharing.
    Ang

  61. Beautiful overview of raising a family in Thailand. The photos also really captured Thailand well. Also love rising a family overseas, but in Japan.

  62. Inbal says...

    Absolutely beautiful and makes me miss Thailand so much!

  63. Summer says...

    What a beautiful family! I studied abroad many years ago, and Thailand remains one of my favorite countries. Everything – especially the people – are so lovely. Thank you for sharing (and please update us when the little one is born!).

  64. Amy says...

    Loved this series! Sounds like such a happy family! I would love to hear more from Ciana about how she adjusted to the differences in marriage relationships! I LOVE romantic, grownups-only time with my husband, so it would be a challenge for me to have him sleeping in another room, and no more date nights. Ciana, was that harder or easier for you to adapt to than you expected?

    • Actually my husband still sleeps with me, we all sleep in one bed now. It’s very sweet to see them sleeping and cuddling together, plus I know this stage won’t last forever, so I think that helps. But I agree, I wouldn’t like to have him sleeping in another room! And date nights would be hard to enjoy because I would worry too much about Aerina; she was/is very attached to me. I would also feel guilty that the babysitter would probably be dealing with a crying non-sleeping baby! But if my next is more independent and a better sleeper, it might be different.

  65. Emma says...

    Loved reading this! Love this whole series!

  66. JK says...

    I’m going to echo what basically everyone else has said, so glad this series is back!! My husband, our sons, and I love Thai food and become regulars at our favorite places. The Thai owners are always so gracious and welcoming. I would love to visit Thailand one day. I also really love what Ciana says about it being a calm place. I live halfway across the country from my parents and family and it’s tough. I can’t imagine living on the other side of the world!

    • Yes it is so far! I had no plans to start a family this far away when I first moved here, and I do wish it were closer!

  67. Marianne says...

    I love this series so much, glad it’s back. This particular feature was so fascinating! Motherhood in Thailand sounds wonderful!!

  68. Jill says...

    I have always loved Thai food and in Los Angeles we have an abundance of it. I love all Asian cuisines but Thai seems the most difficult to master because it has so many flavors combined in subtle ways. I find the lifestyle she described to be a reflection of the food. It’s beautiful, structured yet not aggressive. I love the importance of family and the kind way children are parented by everyone. I feel like I may be secretly Thai!

    • That’s a nice metaphor! Although maybe in Thailand the food is more aggressive, it can be quite spicy here, especially in Southern Thailand!

  69. This series is my favorite- so fascinating! I love hearing about these amazing cultural experiences. Thailand has been high on my travel list for years and this intervene was so interesting!

  70. Claire says...

    Love this series! Thanks!

  71. Eliza says...

    I love the “family date” idea. Of course, as a parent in North America I love having time away from my kids…but I imagine that if I could go more places and not have to feel stressed or looked down on for bringing my kids, how much more I would enjoy those places WITH my kids! A date with kids would be fun if everyone else was happy they were there too. I can think of ONE truly kid-friendly cafe about 45 minutes from where I live. One where the kids can run and climb and be loud and make messes.

    • It might also be because there is a lot more kid-specific things to do in America, so there’s not as much need for them to be accepted everywhere? I do get jealous when I see all the nice playgrounds and library events and variety of activities there are for moms and little ones in the States!

  72. Lucie says...

    I just love this series! Thank you for bringing it back once again! :) and thanks to Ciana for sharing her story!

  73. What an interesting read! I took my time to take everything in, because I already expected Thai culture considering parenting had to be different from what I’m used to. I’d like to thank the mom for writing so openly about her findings and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series!

  74. Alessandra says...

    So interesting, I appreciated the last paragraph about ease and calmness mostly, I wish all the world was like that, wonderful!

  75. Love this series. My husband and I are planning to move internationally and start our family thereafter, so this insight is super valuable.

  76. Yay, my favorite series! I love this essay. Thailand sounds incredible. Also the idea of giving blood on your birthday is so heartwarming.

  77. Joy says...

    Love the Motherhood Around the World Series :) Thanks Ciana for sharing a little bit of your life!

  78. Nicole says...

    So happy this is back! Made my day.

  79. Claire says...

    I love this series! I always read them (often, many times) because they are so interesting to me!

  80. Lisa says...

    I’m not a mother–nor am I at all close to being one–but I always cheer when I see these posts! I think families are fascinating microcosms of society, so it’s so interesting to see how different countries instill their values in their little ones. And I echo the sentiments of some other commenters who noted the (sad) difference between the level of involvement of extended families in raising a child.

  81. Nathalie says...

    Thanks for the informative read! My daughter was born in Singapore (a natural birth) on February 8 and it was crazy busy at the hospital. I later found out that there were tons of scheduled c-sections because it was the first “8” after the start of the Lunar New Year – which is particularly lucky.

    • My friends in Hong Kong say it’s the same there too!

  82. Sarah says...

    HOORAY!! I love this series so much! I found myself feeling so happy for Ciana… it sounds like she’s really found her home. What a lovely place for a lovely family!

  83. Thank you so very much for sharing this. It’s very fascinating. I enjoy reading about parenting and family traditions in other cultures- especially Asian cultures. We adopted our twin daughters from Japan and we want to include much of their culture into their lives.

    XOXO, Amy @ Jean and a Tea
    http://www.jeansandatea.com

  84. Willow says...

    It has actually made my day that this series is back! I love love love it. As others have said, I often re-read old ones too as they’re endlessly interesting and fun. Favourite Thai fact-that little babies learn to wai.

    Joanna, thank you so much for this blog. I read a magazine recently for the first time in months (twin boys = minimal magazine time!) and it was so dull compared to A Cup Of Jo. Your whole blog is interesting, fun, thought-provoking and positive- a rare and special combination.

  85. JAIME says...

    My favorite series! Yay! I thought of the “mysig” from the Swedish motherhood story all winter. I especially love reading the entries from different European countries. I find the differences within countries in Europe fascinating!

  86. Rebecca says...

    my favorite series is back! yay!!!!!!

  87. Kelly says...

    These are easily my favorite posts from cupofjoe! I get excited everytime – no matter what country (and I’m not even a momma yet)!

  88. What a lovely family. <3

  89. Lena says...

    Before even reading the article I wanted to come down to the comments and say YAY! So happy this series is back! Now turning on some music and scrolling up to read :)

  90. Jamie says...

    Ah, I loved this! I spent a summer in college living with a Thai host family while working in a school there and it was just the dreamiest, loveliest experience. I’m glad to read a more in-depth perspective on it (from someone who also loves Thai culture, but I think it would be hard not to).

    • Where did you live?

  91. Sarah says...

    YAY! So glad this series is back! (Although it makes me a little sad about the lack of support we moms have here in the USA.)

    • Candice says...

      On the other hand, many times, children are left with grandparents while parents go to work in other cities, so it’s not always a 100% positive thing, you know?

  92. Tyler says...

    Fun to read one from a country I’ve actually visited, since I have some context to place her comments in!

  93. Jeanne says...

    I was excited to this story! I have to say you are such a lovely couple. My parents were raised in Bangkok and I have been back to Thailand many times over my life to travel and visit relatives. You’re so right in how mellow the culture is and how displays of anger are frowned upon. In all the years I have been there I have NEVER seen a child have a tantrum. It’s really quite amazing and it does make one wonder what the magic is. Kudos to you for being able to raise Aerina alone. That is a challenge especially out there. The language has been lost to most of my siblings and I. However my sister was able to retain it. She just had a baby who is Aerina’s age and now I get to be called “Pah” (Older Auntie). It’s really kind of neat. Thank you for sharing your story (and oh so jealous that you were able to live in gorgeous Phuket).

    • It is amazing how you don’t see tantrums and how calm parents always are; I often feel like I have such little patience compared to Thai moms! Especially while pregnant! It’s great that you get to travel back here a lot! I do wish the trip weren’t quite so long….

  94. Pam says...

    I love this series! I grew up in Thailand for the first four years of my life (but have resided here in the States ever since), and I can attest to all that Ciana said. I remember sleeping in my parents’ bed for several years after we moved to the States, despite the fact that I had my own bedroom. (I don’t think I slept in my own bed until I was 7!). Of all the differences in parenting culture, my Thai parents were most surprised by the fact that we put our daughter in a crib in her own room after two weeks.

    • Well we had plans for Aerina to stay in a crib, but she refused! So it’s nice that my husband is used to the idea and doesn’t mind! I’m hoping it won’t be 7 years though!

  95. Ruth says...

    Yay I LOVE this series! And it’s the first time I’m reading it as a mama, as my daughter was born in October :-) Looking forward to hearing about motherhood and life all around the world.

  96. This is such a wonderful window into Thai culture! I love the part about auspicious numbers! Thanks so much for sharing, Ciana!

  97. What a lovely read, overall it comes across as a really calm, loving culture <3

  98. jeannie says...

    Fascinating. I love the fact that grandmothers help out so much with childcare and that everything seems so calm and friendly. Thailand sounds wonderful. Thanks you!

  99. Such a gorgeous family! Could there be more of theses posts?

    Can I also beg for a Montreal guide? I’m trying to move there now and very nervous about moving abroad from the US, to a new city in my 30’s, and going alone (again)…

    Really drawn to Ciana’s comment: “Thai are so friendly and kind, and being aggressive is really looked down on. ”

    Seems so lovely and fabulous and wonderful and a Montreal guide might help me…Boston is the exact opposite (there are lovely people in this beautiful city :) but I’m having a hard time here…for the past for 5 years)…

    • Thanks so much for Tara to mention my blog. And Hannah, I get so many questions about moving to Montreal I just finally did a series. If you search using the word ‘moving’ all three posts will come up!

    • Amber says...

      I was the most drawn to that comment too! I’d love to move to a country where the people and environment are more chill. I live in central Massachusetts and it’s not that place. MA has some beautiful areas (western MA is my fave) and I’ve met some cool people, but I think I can relate to how you feel as well.

    • thank you all for your comments! Ill check out Roast Montreal right now! I hope I didn’t seem Like I was attacking all people of Mass…It’s just me not being the right fit here :)

  100. Alice Quin says...

    My favorite series!!!! So psyched.

  101. RT says...

    I am SO happy that this series is back! I go back and re-read all of the old entries often!

  102. Jody says...

    So happy to see another installation of the MAtW series! I love this one too, she seems to really appreciate the culture she’s immersed herself in and the calmer, more relaxed atmosphere sounds lovely.

  103. Beautiful family and I just LOVE these posts on mothering around the world- so interesting and I swear I could get lost reading your past ones. Excited to read the rest of them!

  104. Amy says...

    Wow this was such a great read! Her last comment about the calmness of living in Thailand was interesting- I feel like living in a big city, everyone is so cranky here and driving everyone else off the road with impatience. I’d love to visit Thailand now!

    • Stephanie says...

      I’m with you! Would love to visit now.

  105. I did an actual fist pump when I opened your blog and saw that the Motherhood Around the World posts are back! No shame. Favorite posts by far, aside from conversations with Toby and Anton!

    • Yes! Fist bump!

    • Amy says...

      I did too! I’m thrilled to arrive to work on Mondays and read this at my computer each week again!!

  106. Sarah W says...

    I love this series so much!!!