American Mothers Around the World

Since I’ll be spending the next few weeks focusing on Anton and Toby, I’ve prepared some posts ahead of time. I’m especially excited about a new weekly series called Motherhood Around the World. Every Monday, we’ll feature an American mother living abroad in a different country around the world with her family. (First up today: Norway!) Honestly, the interviews have been FASCINATING. While working on them, I kept running into the living room to tell Alex the surprising things these mothers were revealing. Thank you so much to all the incredible mothers who shared their stories.

We spoke to American mothers abroad–versus mothers who were born and bred in those countries—because we wanted to hear how motherhood around the world compared and contrasted with motherhood in America. It can be surprisingly hard to realize what’s unique about your own country (“don’t all kids eat snails?”), and it’s much easier to identify differences as an outsider.

A disclaimer: We wanted to hear from these individual mothers about their particular experiences, but of course everyone’s impressions, circumstances, social-economic levels and lifestyles are different, so these interviews are in no way meant to explain, describe or reduce entire cultures. (I can’t imagine if someone tried to explain America as a whole!) These interviews are more about women’s personal stories and observations. That’s probably a no-brainer, but I wanted to point that out regardless. We also chose women who were more or less from the same demographic so we could see what it was like within that similar demographic around the world. I’m curious to hear from people born and bred in each country as well, in terms of what you think rings true and what surprises you; and also from people from other countries who are living in the United States.

Anyway, I’m so excited to share these interviews every Monday and discuss parenting customs with you, and a huge thank you to my brilliant writer friend Lina Perl for helping put it together. Hope you enjoy it! xoxo

A few other Cup of Jo series, if you’re in the mood:
* Mothers talk about trying to find work/life/baby balance
* Guide to NYC
* Funny Dos and Don’ts
* 15 Hair Tutorials
* Delicious Recipes
* Home Tours
* More about Careers
* More about Weddings
* More about Motherhood
And, of course, please feel free to check out the archives at the top of the blog anytime.

Thank you so much!

(Top photos of my parents with us in France; bottom photo of a sweet boy in Madrid by The Sartorialist)

  1. Love this series of mothering in other countries. I am an American, living in Australia w/ an English husband about to give birth to our first. I love the differences between here and home when I chat with friends and I love to see all the differences between countries and cultures. Thanks for this, so interesting.

  2. I loved loved! reading the varying perspectives of mothers around the world. I wish there were more of these posts! Why aren’t there more? :)

  3. That picture of you and Lucy as babies is so cute! Looks just like Toby. :)

  4. What a great idea! Hey Joanna, I was wondering how you pronounce Anton’s name? Is it Ant”awn” or Ant”un”. I’m so happy for your beautiful family. :)

  5. Love this new series and look forward to learning about different methods of parenting around the world.

  6. I love this series of article interviews idea! In a few months we will be living in Japan for two years. Will you be interviewing any American mothers placed in Japan by Boeing or by the military?

  7. Oh wow, Toby looks so like your dad!. Love your blog spot Jo. Congratulations to you all on the the arrival of your lovely little boy xx

  8. Sounds very interesting! As someone raised in the U.S. by a mother from another country, I’d also love to hear the impressions of women from abroad now raising children in the U.S., too.

  9. Your disclaimer made me laugh, you’ve built your blog on turning France into a stereotype: striped shirts, cheese, cheap sneakers no one here wears.

    Pretty funny!

  10. Love love LOVE this series. Also, as a sociologist, I’m glad you acknowledge that you are choosing moms from “more or less the same demographic.” I read this to mean middle-to upper class white women, but I guess we’ll see soon.

    I similarly enjoyed your work-life balance series, but I think it needed the qualifier that you were sampling a specific type of mom.

    That said, you need an axis of similarity to do a fruitful comparison, so I’m all for this series. It should be really illuminating!

    Also, congratulations on your new baby!

  11. I also remember you posting something about a while back. I’m not a mom, not even a wife, but I do have dual citizenship (Canadian/Italian). I have been living and teaching in Italy for 4 years and I have observed great differences between child rearing practices in Canada and Italy. I’m curious to read about other countries!

  12. I’m excited to read these. Recently I went back and re-read a bunch of the posts for the “my balance” series and loved them.

  13. I can’t wait to read! My husband and I are discussing raising our kids in Europe, I’m interested to hear how others do it.

  14. looking so forward to this series! what a fun topic!

  15. that is THE cutest little boy I have ever seen… love that picture!

  16. 2nd pic. the baby on the left… if it is you. toby definitely looks like you…incredibly the same

  17. Such a great idea for a blog series! Being from Poland I’m hoping that at least one of the Baltic or Slavic countries will make it into this feature !

  18. Very much looking forward to this series!

  19. really excited about this series. such a brilliant idea!

  20. So excited for this new series – what a wonderful idea! Should be fascinating :)

  21. so excited to read these! what a cool idea!

  22. As an American living in Paris who’s expecting her first baby in August, I am sure to find this series absolutely fascinating! Thanks for putting it together, Joanna and Lina!

  23. I’m an Asian American parent in Singapore and I’m keen to read this series! I di hope some of your subjects are not white and speak to issues of xenophobia and racism abroad and not just sleep training and such.

    • I agree. I am excited about the posts and I think its a wonderful idea. But I think its weird that you chose to pick women in the same demographic, just to see how women in the same demographic are in each country. I think that is strange, and , as always, I would love to see a little more diversity everywhere whenever possible. Since this is about American women in other countries, and American women are hispanic, english, asian, black, middle eastern, irish, indian,—it seems so strange to now decide Americans are only from the same demographic, white upper class females.

    • Exactly. And I hope “similar demographics” does not apply only to women who look a particular way — thin, hipster-y, etc. — and live in cities. And if they are, that these women acknowledge their privilege. I’m hoping and wishing for families of color, but I’m not holding my breath.

  24. This is a wonderful idea. I can’t wait to read the series! <3

  25. Really looking forward to this regular feature (even though I’m non-American). I’m currently reading ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’ by Pamela Druckerman who’s an American in Paris.

  26. jm says...

    This is going to be so interesting! I remember you talking about how sometimes Danish mothers “park”their strollers with their babies in them outside restaurants while they have dinner or a cup of coffee. Fascinating to hear about different cultures. Can’t wait!

  27. Great idea! I’m so glad you’re starting with Norway!

  28. What an interesting idea for a series. I can’t wait!

  29. I remember you tweeting something about this a few months ago when you were looking for people to interview, and I’m so excited to see the series come to fruition! I’m not a mom, but it’s always been a dream to raise kids in another country, so I’m excited! xo

  30. this is an awesome idea. my husband & i are a few months away from trying to become parents, and i’ve been so in love with reading about how people around the world do different things and their customs, etc. you sure are making it easy for me :)