Motherhood

12 Surprising Things About Parenting in India

Thank you for being so enthusiastic about our summer Motherhood Around the World series. It has been an honor to share these women’s personal stories, and I loved reading all your comments. We’ll be taking a break from the series for the fall and hope to do another group next spring.

Our seventh (and final!) interview features Danielle Dumm, who lives in New Delhi with her husband, two-year-old son and a baby on the way. Here are 12 things that have surprised Danielle about being a mom in India…

Danielle’s background:

Photographer and writer Danielle met her husband when they were both working for a non-profit in Washington, D.C. “I was only 23, and we had been dating for a year. One night he said, ‘I just got into the Foreign Service, and I have to leave the country. Want to get married?’ ”

Danielle wasn’t sure she was ready, but the couple talked all night. Fast-forward a few months: They were hitched and moving to China. “You know that idea that you don’t really know someone until you take a road trip together? This was like an extreme version of that,” she says. “Luckily, it has been amazing.”

They lived in China for two years, where they had a son, Will. Then they moved to New Delhi, in August 2012, for another two-year stint. “We’re about to bid on our next location,” Danielle explains. “As part of the Foreign Service, the longest we’ll stay anywhere is three to four years.” Danielle works part-time as a photographer and writer and blogs about her experiences here.


On “playgrounds”: India has playgrounds, but there is nothing like watching my son toddle giddily around the ruins of a fourteenth-century mosque. And I’ll never forget the day I watched a group of young kids play a game of hide and seek at the fifteenth-century Safdarjung’s Tomb by our house.

On cuts and bruises: The hardest thing about living here are the safety concerns. When my two-year-old son wants to walk down a street, all I can see are the stray dogs and barbed wire on the ground. He can’t drink his bathwater. I mean, what kid doesn’t sometimes drink a little bathwater? I’m looking forward to a time when I can just sit him in the backyard and not worry if he puts a little dirt in his mouth. Because here, it’s never just dirt. And local children regularly swim in the Yamuna River, which so polluted that it’s covered in a layer of thick white chemical foam.

In America, for all of our hovering, most of us accept that falling down and getting scrapes and bruises is a natural part of early childhood. Here, people seriously freak out if Will sports a few minor scabs on his knees. People have even asked me if he had been hit by a car—because how else would a child be allowed to get so scraped up? This might seem like an overreaction, but I understand it. Dirty wounds can easily become infected here, and certain hospitals can be so unsanitary that its best to avoid them or risk getting even sicker than you already were.

Still, there’s nothing more rewarding than taking my kid out to experience India in all its glory. I wouldn’t trade all of the sweaty, crazy adventures we’ve had here together for anything.

On babies and breastfeeding: It’s against the law to find out the sex of your baby here. There’s a preference for boy babies, so they don’t want people end their pregnancies because they find out it’s a girl. Breastfeeding is encouraged here, but among certain sections of society, formula is a status symbol. Using formula implies that you are wealthy enough to employ an ayah (nanny).

On men and women: A friend of mine recently took a birthing class here. Birth class is a very progressive thing for India—especially one where men would attend. She gave the husbands credit for trying! But she said they could not say cervix without getting really embarrassed. They could not point out parts of the female anatomy. Sex is still taboo in many ways—there’s no health class in schools here. Until recently, men were not allowed in the delivery room, and that’s still the case everywhere but in the most elite hospitals. My friend’s doctor told her, “You don’t need a doula because you have an American husband.” The other men were much more uncomfortable.

On children’s clothes: New Delhi has the cutest children’s clothing brands you’ve never heard of. The high-end markets are filled with Indian-styled tunic tops and cotton pants in modern prints. Brands Almirah, Lola’s World and Good Earth carry affordable organic, hand-embroidered children’s clothes.

On family beds: In a country in which space comes at such a premium, few parents would dream of allocating a separate room for each child. Co-sleeping is the norm here, regardless of class. Children will usually sleep with their parents or their ayah until they are at least six or seven. An American friend of mine put her son in his own room, and her Indian babysitter was aghast. The young children from middle class Indian families I know also go to sleep whenever their parents do—often as late as 11pm. Our son sleeps in our bed, as well. He has a shoebox of a room in our house where we keep his clothes and crib, and he always starts the night in there, falling asleep around 8pm. That way Chris and I get a few hours to ourselves. Then, around 11pm, Will somehow senses that we are about to fall asleep and calls out to come to our bed. It’s like clockwork, and he falls right back into a deep sleep the second his head hits the pillow.

On hiring a housekeeper: I always swore I would never hire a housekeeper, but it’s mind-boggling how dirty a house in a developing country can get in just a few hours. Even when we mop the house every single day of the week, we still go to bed with black feet every night from dirt that collects on our floors in a matter of hours. There is just that much dirt in the air. Our housekeeper, Kanti, comes Monday through Friday, for a few hours every day. Also, I have to admit, I like having another person around the house. I think it’s typical in the U.S. to be somewhat isolated in the house with your kids. It’s much more common here to have ayahs, relatives and neighbors around all the time—a difference I really appreciate.

On full-time nannies: Indian families who can afford it (typically middle and upper class families) hire full-time nannies, called ayahs, whether both parents are working or not. I don’t have an ayah, mostly because I like bringing my son around the city with me. But in the beginning we got very strange looks when we’d go to the market together. It is rare to see any but the very poorest children out in public, except at designated “kid venues” like playgrounds.

Even if you can’t afford an ayah, there’s a very strong tradition of family members and neighbors watching your kids during the day so you can go out on your own. I think this is partly because the country is just not very child friendly. There are a lot of dangers, and it gets incredibly hot. When it’s 110 degrees out, it’s hard to take kids anywhere. Many Indian and expat women would never dream of taking their children with them to run errands or go to dinner.

On living with your nanny and her family: Often, Indian homes will have separate quarters, where the ayah lives with her own family. That way she can be flexible with her hours, but doesn’t have to be away from her own husband and kids. The role of the ayah is such a cultural norm here that annual membership to the local children’s museum includes three adult passes—two for the parents and one for the ayah. In Indian families, it’s a long-term relationship—your ayah becomes part of your family.

On eating seasonally: Produce is very seasonal. You get strawberries for a few weeks and then not again for months and months. Every three days, I make Will popsicles out of whatever fruit is in season—mango, papaya, lychee. Right now it’s slim pickings at the vegetable stand. I bought some potatoes the other day and they were half cooked by the sun by the time I got home.

My favorite Indian food is chole bhature, a chick-pea gravy served with a deep-fried piece of dough. It’s best enjoyed when we’re out walking as a family at 6am—things are still quiet, the traffic isn’t insane yet and the heat is bearable—and we find a guy with a clean, open stand. So damn good.

Thank you, Danielle!

P.S. Motherhood in Norway, Japan, Central Africa, Northern Ireland, Mexico and Abu Dhabi. Plus, why French kids eat everything and babies sleeping outside in Denmark.

(Thank you to my fantastic friend and writer Lina Perl for help with the reporting and interviewing)

  1. Asg says...

    I would like to say that nowadays in India nuclear families are a norm and both the parents are working. So there is hardly time for potty training. Thus potty training does get delayed. Unless of course you have grandparents willing to pitch in. Indian parenting techniques are from the time of joint family system. Now with nuclear families and lack of time they are a little out of sync.

    I also agree that there are plenty of inexpensive good quality clothes are available for children right from the streets to small shops. Quiet lot is available in India but u got to ask people.

  2. I like reading about unique experiences as well as more general stuff, That must have been an amazing experience for your tour, As a traveler, I find your recommendations very useful. Many of them I try to put into practice always, Thank you

  3. Anouk says...

    I love your blog, and I read this particularly series religiously so don’t get me wrong, but it really frustrates me that you don’t feature mothers with nine to five jobs. I have an international career (currently living in DRC), it is really disheartening to only see successful couples in which the woman followed the husband’s job. Would it be possible to feature a bit more gender balance?

  4. Nidhi says...

    Hi,
    I found your wonderful blog today & have enjoyed reading experiences of Moms around the world. However, being an Indian mom myself, I actually think that this isn’t really the parenting picture in India! True that there’s still not much to call it kid/baby friendly, but there’s a very very protective approach to raising a child. In fact the family support system is very strong. With the rising income levels, working parents are certainly employing nannies & daycares for their kids, but most of the times it gets managed by grandparents. While the India that we see in these pictures is actually just a very old & small market area (called Chandni Chowk)

    • Nidhi says...

      The actual India is way better & livable… Not sure why all expats always end up clicking very dark, poor, sweaty & filthy India… Whereas theres so much to feel better about being there! Not defending, but really wish to tell you that India does have a fair share of beauty .. A lot depends on where you choose to live & everything else starts getting influenced by it, including parenting & child care!

    • Veena says...

      I’ve been a big a fan of this series but having grown up in India, this was a very disappointing and jarring read. She has taken such a narrow and superficial lens to the whole country and overgeneralized so much that I almost don’t recognize this version of India she is painting! Either the time she had in the country was really short, or she didn’t know enough Indian families beyond her housekeeper to really explore the parenting traditions so she defaulted to some superficial observations colored by her own personal biases. She has left out so much of the joy, community and care that goes into raising babies in India! Breastfeeding, attachment parenting, nesting, co-sleeping, room-sharing, plenty of unstructured play, socialization, gentle caring for the mom during the fourth trimester, early introduction of solids, etc are all the norm in India – many concepts that the Western World is just beginning to embrace have bene part of the fabric of raising children there. Take her comments on roomsharing for instance, the motivations for that go far beyond just lack of space. Women in India believe in attachment parenting and believe that little newborns are very fragile dependent beings and need their moms, skin to skin contact, singing, cajoling, caressing, face time, lot’s of affectionate touch etc for healthy development. There is a lot less emphasis on newborns becoming independent as soon as possible. Take her comment on ‘hospitals are dangerous places in india and best avoided’. That is an overgeneralization again. The incidence of sepsis and antibiotic resistance, cancer as well as average length of stay is higher in the US than in India. Perhaps I was expecting too much from this. This should more aptly be titled ‘one American woman’s experience raising a kid in India the American way for 2yrs or less’. I don’t doubt that some of what she said is true in certain parts but vast majority of India is safe and child-friendly. Entire communities including strangers treat parents with empathy and help raise children. Pregnant women are treated with the greatest care and maternity benefits are much better than in the US (6months paid). I wish she could have taken the time to go a little deeper and explore the positives of another world and culture, as most other guest authors before her have done in this series. I agree with Nidhi that actual India is far more livable and normal – not filthy and scary as these pictures lead you to believe. Showing pictures of Delhi’s busiest industrial markets only is like clicking a picture of Time’s Square in Manhattan and equating all of US to that. I hope in her remaining time she gets to go out of the city and enjoy the lush green beauty of the suburbs and rural areas.

    • Vishakha Gupta says...

      I agree, I was raised in India till age six and was shocked when reading this post. I was raised at least 50% by my grandparents. Additionally children are really loved in India. I once got lost at a crowded outdoor market at age 3 and was able to speak to a shopkeeper who got me access to a phone to call my grandparents and let them know that I had been separated from my mother. This author didn’t capture the “It takes a village to raise a child” mentality most people in India share.

  5. I have just finished reading all of your motherhood around the world, and the biggest thing that stuck out to me that in all these cultures unlike the US is that motherhood is/was not meant to be a solo adventure, as so many of us in the US think it is there are always so many people who are willing to help. Some of the things in these countries are very sad that people have to live this way, and some very enlightening things how most developed countries have such generous maternity,and parental leave policies, and shorter work days and more time off, It’s to bad that we here in the US as supposedly the wealthiest nation on earth does not have the advantages as so many of these other countries offer, I didn’t read all the comments as i’m sure I’d spend to much time doing so, but i’d love to see any follow up stories or how certain programs are going especially the infant maternal program i forgot the name but not the mission, and so many of us, me included at times think we live in poverty, but we don’t know how lucky we have it except maybe for our crime rate, and lack of support for mothers and families.

  6. Amazing! Both the photos and the story. My favorite part of traveling has always been meeting people that remind you there’s so many ways to live. Love to hear stories like this that remind you to be different, brave.

  7. I absolutely loved reading this series! I really hope you start it up again, I just cant get enough.

  8. I’m an expat mom of three in Manaus, Brazil. A lot of this rings true here as well!

  9. Thanks for this AWESOME series! I am a French Canadian who moved to (the german part of) Switzerland before moving to the USA where I now live since 3 years with my husband and 2 young daughters. I read my first article this morning and linked your blog on mine so that I can come back and read the rest. :)

  10. I love this – although it has reignited my travel bug! Beautiful insightful story Jo.

  11. I absolutely love this series! So excited to see new posts in the Spring.

  12. I LOVED this post! It makes me want to pack my bags in DC and go home to New Delhi :) ..Oh how I miss it! Thanks Joanna! And Danielle! I loved everything you said, esp about the Chole Bhature! :) Can’t wait to go home and grab a plateful! xx

  13. I love this series and am looking forward to the new one. As a born and raised Mumbaikar this one made me realise that hey there are not too many babies seen out and about on this city’s streets either ( Mumbai V/S Delhi).Also how adult and children’s spaces are completely mixed here and my friends with kids here always complain about a lack of children’s spaces and I completely agree :)

  14. Jo, this series has become one of my favorite things on your blog. It was so interesting. I cannot wait for the return of it in the spring.

  15. This series is soooooo fantastic!! It is amazing to see what moms experience all over the world. I’ve been to India when I was single and it was one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine being there with a baby but Dani sure makes it seem like a great time. Looking forward to the next installment.

  16. Her baby is so beautiful!!

  17. Her baby is so beautiful!!

  18. I’ve been following Dani for quite some time now, and her writing and photos always strike a chord. I’m so excited to see her featured on your blog. Congrats, Dani!

    Jessie

  19. Love this series! So eye-opening and inspiring. Looking forward to more next year!

  20. I’m so sad to see this series end. I love all your motherhood series, so more more!

  21. Love this series and loved this post! Thanks for sharing!

  22. Joanna,

    Your “Motherhood Around the World” series is one of the best I have read! I have so enjoyed reading how Americans experience the cultural differences while raising their families in other parts of the world. It is a great way to educate us about other cultures and what a fun way to do it! I’m sad to hear this is the last in the series but am really looking forward to it picking back up in the Spring! Thanks so much for doing this!

  23. Loved this post and really enjoyed this series. Looking forward to more in the Spring.

  24. Great series! I have truly enjoyed every post.

    I am an Indian, born and brought up in Kolkata. Though I don’t comment much, there are a few things I felt compelled to point out here.

    We lived in India more recently from the time my daughter was 2 till she was 6. My son was born there. I’m sure they drank a bit of bathwater and some more went in when they brushed their teeth. Nothing happened to them! They were fine. Having said that I would advise people to drink tap water in India but I do think the bit about bath water is an over reaction.

    About vegetables – In our family there are both vegetarians and meat eaters. The line ‘Most people don’t eat meat in India’ is simply not true. In fact, I believe less than half India’s population is vegetarian. And there is a HUGE variety of vegetables available in India some of which are quite difficult to find in the west. In fact I don’t even know the English names of so many.

    Oh and Good Earth is an extremely expensive store. It is definitely not affordable. Only wealthy people shop there.

    Joanna thank you for the parenting series. Pity I couldn’t see the post on Italy. My favourite posts have been parenting in Norway and parenting in the Congo.

  25. Oh I hope you change your mind and there are more Expat mome before the spring :) Can’t wait!

  26. Yay finally a foreign Service family! I have had many friends and their families that have live in India for the foreign service. They all have had very different but wonderful experiences there. We lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which is one of the largest expat community in Africa due to the African Union.

    I am sad to hear this is ending for now, they were some of my favorite posts.

  27. I don’t know if I can wait until spring! This series has been such a joy to read and can’t wait until you start it up again. Thank you Joanna!

  28. What a wonderful series, I’ve looked forward to it every Monday. I can’t wait to see it’s return, sooner rather than later… (fingers crossed).

  29. What do you mean with “seventh (and final!)”? This can’t end!!!!

  30. thank you so so so much for this insight, and i hope you do more soon (cant wait til next spring!)

  31. A great piece by Danielle. Kudos to her for capturing the essence so beautifully.
    Joanna I am curious to know why you did not ask an Indian mom to write for this series? While Danielle did an excellent job, i feel her views are those of an outsider and don’t really tell the whole story. It would have been great to hear from an Indian parent.

    Having born & raised in India i would like to add a few things while we are on this topic:

    On Babies & Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding is highly encouraged in India but it’s a very private affair. You will not find women breastfeeding in public. It’s just not an acceptable thing to do. In fact women often breastfeed behind closed doors. You won’t even see them breastfeeding openly in their own homes.

    On Men & Women: Going to a birth class is a very new concept in India. Most parents to be never attend a birth class. In fact I would say it’s probably a thing that upper middle class and rich parents do. It’s slowly catching on amongst the youngsters, def. not a thing most men would prefer to do.

    On Children’s clothes: Stores like Good Earth are ridiculously expensive and only the rich shop there. It’s like going to a Neiman Marcus to shop for baby clothes. How many middle class people really do that? There are plenty of other local and cheap option but this is def. not the norm. Most expats probably like to shop there because they can afford it.

    On eating vegetarian: There is plenty of meat available in India. Being vegetarian is a personal choice just like it is in any other country. Yes some people do it for religious reasons but to say most people are vegetarians would be wrong. It’s easily & readily available in most parts of the country and is very safe.

    Water – I grew up breathing, bathing & drinking the local water. There is nothing wrong with it. Millions of people live on it. I never had any problems or fell ill. Sure if u drink unclean water u will fall sick and that is true for all places in the world. One does have to boil or purify the water coming in taps but after that it’s perfectly safe. Most tourists and foreigners need to stick with bottled water because their bodies are use to cleaner water. But that is not to say water in India will lead to sickness.

    The one thing that is not common in India for children is educational museum. They are coming up slowly but growing up we just had parks and zoos to go to. In public places there are no facilities of changing tables. This might have changed more recently but more restaurants etc. don’t have that option.

    Again thank you Danielle & Joanna for an excellent series. I hope by adding these points I have not offended anyone. Just wanted to shed some more light on this topic. Raising kids in India is safe and less stressful compared to the US. There is plenty of help available at all levels. The parents are less paranoid and I feel the child grows up seeing & experiencing a lot more variety.

  32. You have made Mondays my favorite day of the week because of this little series. Thank you.

  33. Absolutely make this into a book please. And like the others, I’m so sad to see this series come to and end; it’s been so interesting. I too would like to see a feature of an expat living in the US and sharing some of her experiences about raising children here. I think that would be interesting.

    Thanks for this Joanna–a job so well done!

  34. This is the last in the Motherhood around the world series? I enjoyed them and will be sad to see them go. I did notice, however, in my RSS reader there was an article on parenting in Italy and when I clicked to read further I found the article didn’t exist any longer. Will it be published as part of another series?

  35. This has been one of the best series of articles I’ve read on this blog, if not on any. So honest, so unexpected – the thought of suddenly raising your family abroad having never considered it as a deliberate choice, I feel like I experience all these things as I read them. The comments also provide interesting discussion. Congrats on writing such interesting content, and thank you! x

    lizzarroo.blogspot.com

  36. It is fairly similar raising Children in New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur on some fronts. I enjoyed seeing how Danielle explained the differences as a reverse affirmation for some of the things I thought were odd about Western cultures for raising their kids in comparison with how I’d been raised myself growing up in Malaysia. Now I don’t feel like we are so strange as a culture anymore as pointed out in this article, the social-economic differences are certainly a key factor for them. Can’t wait to learn more from the new series.

  37. Hi Joanna,

    So sad that this is the last in the series. This has been one of the best features in your blog so far (the rest of the blog is amazing too :)) I really hope you bring it back in the Spring.

    Isabel

  38. I really loved this series. I lived overseas in the Middle East for seven years as an expat (9-16 so a bit older than the kids in these posts) but it still brings back so many memories, espc the Abu Dhabi post (I lived in Dubai). Thanks for giving me a bit of nostalgia every Monday!

  39. I want to echo the sentiment that this was an extremely enjoyable series. I hope that you have time to revive it in the near future (or create a book proposal)!

    I wish that I could have read the Italy post.

  40. S says...

    This has been a very interesting series Joanna. I liked the way you presented a pretty neutral picture of India Danielle. But like someone said upthread, India is SUCH a diverse country that it’s hard to generalise from Delhi to Gujarat to the South. I grew up in southern India and there at least (but also in Delhi afaik) children are brought everywhere – from the market to the temple to restaurants, there are very few “adult” venues in my experience, so I found it interesting that you saw the opposite. wrt the water, if your kids were born in India/China, they must have developed the immunity to deal with swallowing small amounts of bath water, I wouldn’t be too worried. Anyway, that long comment was to say that although some of my experiences have been different, I absolutely loved your post and THANK YOU for not taking on the judgemental tone that I see all too often in the Western media. Your post was like a breath of fresh air to my tired Indian ears.

  41. Joanna, this has been a superb series & I’m really going to miss it! I’m from Mumbai, India and have to say this is a pretty accurate description of life in India.

  42. I loved this series Joanna. It’s been incredible! I so appreciate the diverse perspective you exposed us to.
    Thank you!!!
    Lindsey

  43. My husband travels to India a lot and I was lucky enough to join him for a week this year. I had been angling to take the kids ( 6 and 3) for a couple of months whilst he worked there but my HUsband told me to wait until I had been. Now I can see what he means. I knew exactly what Danielle meant about the heat, dust, random sharp objects sticking out of the pavement! Cows, dogs, CRAZY drivers and traffic! I’d still love to take them for a while but maybe when my youngest is a little older!

    Fantastic series Jo, than you!

  44. My husband travels to India a lot and I was lucky enough to join him for a week this year. I had been angling to take the kids ( 6 and 3) for a couple of months whilst he worked there but my HUsband told me to wait until I had been. Now I can see what he means. I knew exactly what Danielle meant about the heat, dust, random sharp objects sticking out of the pavement! Cows, dogs, CRAZY drivers and traffic! I’d still love to take them for a while but maybe when my youngest is a little older!

    Fantastic series Jo, than you!

  45. India sounds beautiful. The people, the food, the “swirling”…

  46. Great piece and I love Danielle’s photographs. Now I really want to go to India. You or your readers may be interested in an event I’m putting on in April (in a much colder part of the world). Check out http://www.IcelandWritersRetreat.com
    Thanks!
    Erica

  47. Thank you for bringing all of the different stories to us. As a new mom it is enlightening to read about moms around the world. Loving the whole series and am very sad to see it pause.

  48. Such a lovely series! Thank you for putting it together and I also cannot wait for more :)

  49. I absolutely adore those organic children clothing! It’s a very bold thing this couple did, but it must be such a rewarding thing to do both for the parents and the children in the long run. I can only imagine how wonderfully valuable these impressions are for their son!

  50. I think I’ve commented the same way with each of the articles in this series -Wow! I’m just fascinated by how other cultures live. The unsanitary conditions would make me uncomfortable but I can appreciate how interesting it must be to learn about India. Such a difference from the US. I loved reading this series, Joanna. Thank you!

  51. A lovely post and a wonderful series. I can’t say this one has me wanting to visit India any time soon but it’s a great insight. :)

    I’d love to see you branch out into other nationalities, besides American mothers. It would be just as interesting to read about the cultural differences for (say, for example) a Japanese mother living in America, or a Swedish mother living in Australia.

  52. loved , loved this serious! thank you Joanna and all the mommas for sharing their wonderful stories. i can’t wait for it to start up again.

  53. Joining in to say thank you for this series! Can’t wait until more stories this spring. Would love to read them together in a book!!

  54. Joanna, I’ve been looking forward to reading this series each Monday. Can’t wait for the next one!

  55. U says...

    This is my absolute favorite so far. I’m American-born-and-bred but of Indian descent, and this made me fondly remember my mother’s ayah, who raised her, her sister, and her brother, and was like another grandmother to me. Thanks so much for a wonderful post! Looking forward to the next.

  56. Oh I just looove this series! I think even more since I might be racing kids abroad in the future!
    I think there was a post about parenting in Italy that I wasn´t able to read… (or have I imagined it?) I don´t want to miss any!
    Please don´t stop this series… maybe there can be one once in a while… they are super interesting!

  57. Wondering about the Italy post too! Would live to see it! I adore this series!

  58. Hi Joanna!
    This series is so great!! I really wish you would continue it since it is so educational and amusing. I am not a mother yet but I find trully interesting reading the opinions and testimonials from women living their lives and rainsing their kids araound the world.

    Thank you so much! Have a great week (:

  59. I always look forward to the Motherhood Monday posts, but Motherhood Around the World was a special treat. I loved it! I will be a first-time new mother in December, so I am sure my perspective reading the spring series will be completely different. Thank you for creating this wonderful and fascinating series, it has helped me prepared for motherhood mentally and given me something happy and engaging to read. I cannot wait for the next series!

  60. Hi! Great post. I’m wondering if you’ve considered doing a series of posts on the perspective of mothers from other countries raising their children in the US?

    Love your blog!=)

    • That is such a great idea! I think I’d learn a lot about our culture–and others–seeing it from a new perspective.

  61. I’d love to see more from this series!

  62. This post is making me want to book tickets to Delhi with my kids believe it or not! It’s true that there are areas to be aware of sanitation (like every country) but so worth the caution if even necessary…

    mmmm now I want a dosa and to watch kites flying from a rooftop

  63. I lived in Delhi for over two years and loved it (and also hated it sometimes)! We were there pre-babies though. I ADORE Good Earth and get stuff brought over from there for my kids every chance I get. Chole bhature is my husband and son’s absolute favourite food (my husband is originally from India and speaks Hindi with our children). Do you also love raj kachori? I still miss raj kachoris from Green Park! Great post!
    http://www.minipiccolini.com

  64. Chiming in to show some love for this series, especially as a new mother who loves travel. I have enjoyed reading every single one of these so much! I missed Italy, sorry to hear that someone ruined it for all of us. :(

    Also, just wanted to share that I had a “did you know?” conversation with a friend (I was talking about the bundled-up Danish babies, wondering if their parents would think I’m the crazy one for sitting outside in the Atlanta summer heat with my 3-month old) and we realized that we are both Cup of Jo readers. Love it! ;)

  65. Please please please continue this series…it is endlessly educational and lovely!

  66. I love this series! Don’t want it to be over! :( I would love to go to India, but not with children. I have a lot of respect for the mom in this post!

  67. I’m from INDIA and have been raised here only.

    The series had been good and did not know, someone might actually write on INDIA. She has pictured things very beautifully.

    But I must also add, India is a very vast country and every region follows a different culture and environment. There are more than 30 languages spoken here and 100s of traditions followed.

    SO quite an interesting journey. ALso these parenting things depends upon the class of a parent and family. Water is fine to bath and everything for the native people and may cause trouble only for others. Yes a little dusty but its not all you are looking up in the pictures. For upper class people and even middle-upper class, there are apartments that are posh and safe. There are super luxurious places here too. Like any other country there is poverty as well as richness beyond imagination and affordability.

    Do visit here…

    Love
    Tanuja :-)

    • I totally agree with you Tanuja..In this article I think only one face of coin has shown.

  68. Agree with many of the above posts.

    1. What happened to Italy? Was it taken down because of bad comments? Can it be reposted without the ability to make comments?

    2. Would love to hear about expats living in the US to get their perspective.

    3. Can’t wait till Spring when this starts back up.

  69. I think I saw that the Italy post was removed due to comments that upset the mother.

  70. Joining in with everyone else… what happened to Italy??

  71. I have really enjoyed these motherhood around the world posts. I’m sad to see them go and I hope you bring back the series next spring. Thanks for sharing so many amazing stories!

  72. I have loved this series from beginning to end, and like everyone else, I’m so sad to see it end for now!

    As an Indian-American who visited India frequently as a child (and it’s been 20 years since), it was interesting to see how much has remained the same in India. Even though there has been tremendous progress in India, some realities will take plenty of time, energy, and support to change. I appreciate that Danielle showed that people from every walk of life in India have similar concerns for health, safety, and overall concern for children. There is a love and respect (and sometimes over-protectiveness)for children in Indian culture that I think Danielle has captured beautifully. I also admire Danielle’s tone in this piece- it is amazing how she and her family have tried to just jump right in. I bet India is a photographer’s playground.

    I realized my own limitations of other cultures while reading this piece. I realized that some of the things that hold true in New Delhi are different from other parts of India. New Delhi is in Central India, so the weather patterns and land really influence what is available locally. She is right about North Indian cuisine, that when meat and produce are not largely available or in season, the cuisine heavily leans towards butter, yogurt, bread, and lentils. This is also because butter, yogurt, and bread can be made from scratch at home and lentils are very inexpensive, filling, and go a long way. Indian cuisine, like China, Mexico, Italy, France, the United States, and most other countries, is regional and based on the geography of the land. I only make this point in case of generalization. I learned about clean eating, appreciating a variety of fruits and vegetables, and farmer to table cooking from my Indian roots. The ingredients listed are the basis of MOST Indian dishes, but in many parts of India, produce is widely available and serving several vegetable main dishes is normal. My family is from Gujarat (whose cuisine is entirely vegetarian) and the daily visit to the produce stands was where the entire village gathered. My husband is from South India, where rice, vegetables, coconut, and fish are widely available. Learning to cook like my mom has taught me a lot about the regional differences. That being said,chole is fabulous! Whenever I go home, it’s the first thing I ask my mom to make.

    • Very True Anjali..India is full of variety in terms of food.Fresh food is still served here in all families. Though life is a little bit more challenging here But Its more alive.Family Bonding is the strongest thing in India.Cuisine is spicy and delicious.

  73. It would be so interesting if you found a non-American woman parenting in America, and got her perspective.

  74. Your son is so adorable! Best of luck with the new baby. I like American’s version of Indian food very much, but I feel the heat and pollution would be too much for me, so I liked this “vicarious travel session”.

  75. I’m so sad this series is ending for a while. I cannot wait for it to start up again. Thank you!

  76. I really loved this post, and this entire series. Cannot wait for more rounds of it in the spring.

  77. I’ll say it again, fascinating!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this series! Please publish it as a book! I’ll buy it for all of my friends!

    Danielle is an amazing mother. Having visited New Delhi, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to raise a child there…simply in terms of keeping everything clean. Hats off to her for making it work and having such a positive experience with it. I am beyond impressed!

    Thank you again!

  78. I just got home from a 5 week trip to India. While there I was anticipating your Parenting in India post–what perfect timing! It is such a unique culture. I can’t imagine raising a child there so it’s very interesting reading this. This may sound silly, but you unintentionally make yourself known as a white person in India, so what an interesting uprising for white children there. Anyway, thank you for another lovely post.

  79. As someone born and raised in India (in and outside of New Delhi) until the age of 2, I really appreciated hearing about your experience. I especially commend you for your non-judgmental tone and your loving look at a place that even locals will admit is often less than hospitable. Now that my own daughter is almost two, I have such mixed feelings about taking her back to visit with family. But it’s helpful to be reminded that while there are very real health and safety issues to be concerned with, there is a also plenty of warmth and wonder. Thanks again.

  80. I’ll say it again, fascinating!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this series! Please publish it as a book! I’ll buy it for all of my friends!

    Danielle is an amazing mother. Having visited New Delhi, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to raise a child there…simply in terms of keeping everything clean. Hats off to her for making it work and having such a positive experience with it. I am beyond impressed!

    Thank you again!

  81. I’ve learned so much with this series. It is really enlightening, interesting and just a great read. Thank you.

  82. I’m an Indian but I was born and raised in America. I’ve known the american way of birth and parenting and my parents have never discussed the trends in India with me. This post was so informational and I absolutely love you for doing these series. Do you plan on ever doing a book or magazine out of these posts? I think you should! I would be the first to buy it. You’ve made me a fangirl, Joanna.

  83. This has been such a fun series to read. I can’t wait for future issues.

  84. I have really enjoyed this series. Thank you very much to all the mothers features for your contributions. I think unfortunately some of the comments in response to the Italy post were quite hurtful to the contributor. I hope this hasn’t put future contributors off.

    I think that when anyone agrees to do something like this they are taking a leap of faith by sharing some quite intimate details of their lives and that people commenting should be respectful of this. Not everyone’s experiences or perception of a country will be the same.

  85. I loved this series! It is so interesting have these little insights into other countries, especially when they are from a view that is similar to my own. I am an American living in England, while my husband works on a PhD, and we are planning on starting the kid part of our family while we are still living here.

  86. I have to second the query about the Italy post. I was very excited to see it in my Feedly (I was waiting especially for Italy) and that much more disappointed to not find the post. I have adored this series!

  87. Love this series and look forward to its return in the spring. Would love to read the Italy posting that disappeared… :)

  88. Really enjoyed this series. Thank You!

  89. I agree with everyone above, these are the best posts! Well done!

  90. Fantastic! Beautiful post and photos!

  91. I remember you had a parenting in Italy post that was put up on my bloglovin for about a minute..and then it didn’t appear anymore.

    What happened to it?!

  92. I am visiting New Delhi in 3 weeks, and have loved reading about it in preparation for our trip. Thanks for sharing your storing Danielle.

  93. jm says...

    This has been the best series I have ever read. It is great to get a peak into other cultures. I look forward to the next series! I love Indian food and am now craving chole bhature even though I’ve never had it. Thanks for this story and the beatuiful pictures!

  94. I would have to agree with the above comment. I could read these posts for hours! So fascinating. Sad to hear you will be taking a break from these but excited for more in the spring.

    Thanks for these. They are real “eye openers”

  95. I look forward to this series every Monday. I think it’s so inspiring, these mamas living abroad and the experiences they are having. We should all be so lucky to experience life in another culture. Maybe the world would be a more peaceful place?!

    It never even crossed my mind the pollution and water issues. Fascinating.

  96. I’m sad this series is ending. More please! Thanks for the great posts.

  97. Oh man. I just got back from India and am having a hard time picturing raising children there! But Kudos to you Danielle!

    x elizabeth of thompson & prince

  98. When my sister in law lived in Mumbai, where she had her first baby, she literally bathed the baby in bottled, imported water, for this reason. It sounded crazy, but there were serious concerns about water, and about things like Dengue fever. Still, she had a great time living there and we had a wonderful time visiting them. We went out and about and spent a lot of time at international hotels, in part because it was indeed rare to see people with their babies anywhere else. Even relatively poor women would leave them at home with family.

  99. My husband grew up in India, and I live in awe–and sometime fear of the expectations–of his mother’s feats of parenting. One of my biggest shocks? The way Indian parents potty-train their babies! Potty training starts when babies are a month old, and supposedly my husband could go on an all day outing without an accident at 6-months!

    http://fivetdsisters.blogspot.com/2012/10/notes-from-and-indian-bride-part-3.html

    • That style of potty training has a small following in the West these days and is usually referred to as “elimination communication”. It’s surprisingly straightforward. Though most people probably aren’t so dedicated that they’re going miss-free at 6 months, you still can reduce diaper usage a lot.

    • I think that method is used in most of Asia and Africa. It gets kids out of their nappies (cloth diapers) before they are 1 year old. Having kids in disposable diapers till they are 2 or 3 is a very odd even disgusting thing in these places.

    • When I went to China last fall, the little babies had split pants and just squatted down wherever. Their parents just pulled a piece of newspaper out of their bags and picked up after them. It was interested to watch.

  100. Can I ask what happened to the Italy motherhood series? It showed up in my Feedly but the link seemed to have been removed or broken nor does it show up in the series. I do adore the whole series didn’t want to miss any! Great job!

    • Same thing with me! I was very curious about Italy.

    • Same here – I see it my Blogger Feed, but the link just shows a blank page and it’s gone from the series..

    • Yes! Same question!

    • Joanna commented on an earlier post (try the friday one before that monday) that there was an issue with disrespectful comments and so the whole post was removed. :(

    • Me too! Thought it was just my acct acting funky.

    • Happened to me too!

    • I wondered the same thing and noticed that she responded to the same question on one of her Instagrams. Apparently there were some disrespectful comments that bothered the mother who was featured in the article, so Joanna said she took down the post in respect for her (the mother).

    • Bummer! I was so curious about Italy!

    • l says...

      I remember reading the comments on that post, and in my opinion they weren’t disrespectful. I recall that most of the commenters who criticized the post were actual Italians saying “this post perpetuates a lot of false stereotypes about Italians.” Which, if they really were Italians, is a valid criticism. I respect Joanna’s decision to take down the post, and agree that it’s obviously her choice to make. However, I feel that I should point out that the critical comments in that posts did not come across as baseless and vulgar attacks, but rather as frustration (and possibly some degree of anger) from people who felt that their native culture was being misrepresented by someone who was not native to Italy.

      Just my two cents. Just because something is negative doesn’t mean it is automatically disrespectful.

    • Hello,
      I am Italian and I followed this series with curiosity and interest. I have found it sometimes hilarious, not only regarding the difference with the new hosting culture, but even reading what the Americans, sometimes are used to…. your own habits, for example
      I live abroad, in Spain , and I lived in the UK. I considered myself open-minded…
      I was very curious to read about Italy, especially when I saw the article in my feeds.
      So I went to read the link that Girliest Nerd put.
      AS Italian I don’t feel offended, maybe disappointed…. And I cannot believe that someone like the person who wrote the article could only get that from my country.
      In the article, she mentions that we are superstitious because on the 5th of January we celebrate, La BEfana- is a witch that on Epiphany day brings presents, traditionally sweets, if the child has been a good boy/girl during the year, or coal if they have been bad…. It’s a tradition we keep for children…. like you have FATHER CHRISTMAS!!!!!!! And all the paraphernalia related with FATHER CHRISTMAS!!!! How on earth somebody can say that LA BEFANA is a a superstition!!!! Apparently, she says that mothers put on the windowsill or wherever…. a glass of wine and a snack for La BEfana, BUT this is done only for make the child to believe that she exists and she will come to bring stuff. My mum never put anything for La Bafana… Don’t you have a tradition that when your child drop the first milk tooth you put the tooth under the pillow and a mouse will come to leave a coin???? That is a superstition? Or a tradition that you keep for your children?
      I think is the way sometimes people comment on things that are offensive and not the fact itself. If this tradition is funny or stupid for you I don’t feel offended… but if you say that we are superstitious for that I think you are not intelligent.
      Then she says that mothers serve 3 meals at dinner!!! Lie!!!!!! Maybe was a plate with vegetables, cheese or meat, or fish, so with some proteins….. that for you is a three meal dinner? Maybe she was invited that night and the family made for the occasion a special meal for the guests. It’s been welcoming….
      About dressing up after work and going to the piazza to showing off, to see and be seen, it sounds exaggerated… In small villages, were everybody almost know each other, after work they go to the centre of the village to speak with acquaintances, they don’t get dressed unless they were working as mechanics, so were full of dirt…. but if you are working in a office ( nobody close at 5pm!!!! Shops close at 8pm, offices like lawyers, doctors other professionals close around 8-9 pm, at 5pm teachers from public schools will finish their timetable…. People form banks, public offices like Post office, The court will finish around 4pm) So all this people don’t go home to get change and go out again….. Only people which clothes are dirty will do that as is a logical…. Young people will go certainly to be seen. All the others if they are known in the village as docs, lawyers will go smart. Like in a any modern country. In America you give a lot of importance to the appearance too. all of you, almost, are obsessed with white teeth!! For example. You have dress codes to go to a job interview. We have American programs about transform the appearance of people: teeth, wrinkles, clothes, hairstyle. Don’t say that only Italian cares about dressing well…. On this blog too there are advertising on clothes, shops, nice things. What is it with believing that only Italians care about their aspect? Don’t you think that this is exaggerated? And boring to hear again and again?
      Those are prejudices not observations…..

    • I read the Italy story. I live in Croatia, and have noticed some interesting similarities but could also tell that some things were described in a certain way just because of the cultural differences. I thought the witch thing was fun (in USA people leave cookies and milk for Santa, right?)and I have to say I loved the part about the evening walks mostly because I missed that: I remember I’d come home from school and would have a walk, an ice-cream… with my parents and sister, we’d meet people, chat. And people would be dressed nicely simply because why not? It’s nothing special but it’s not pajamas…if you go out for a walk in the city center, what are you supposed to wear? I liked that. Anyway, I had no problem with the article ’cause I thought it was just someones interpretation.

    • Daniela Pittiglio – I did not read the comments on the Italy article but if they were all similar to the one you wrote, I understand the mother’s will to delete her post. Why so much anger ? This woman just gave HER impressions, about a part of Italy were she’s been staying. She shares her experiences as an American woman, why can’t you respect that and put yourself in her shoes ? The part about the Befana was really sweet, she shared how she enjoys it, isn’t it why you should keep from it ? instead of getting mad for the use of the word ” superstition” instead of ” tradition “, what came from it is that no matter what you want to call it, it brings people together. And getting so angry about the food ? Maybe where she’s from she always had one thing on her plate and now she’s been introduced to more elaborated food, WHO KNOWS, why being so judgmental ?? This poor lady was sharing HER experience, once again, you should all be ashamed for being so disrespectful of people’s take on life, mother hood, experiences and views.

    • This comment has been removed by the author.

    • I read the post and found it quite fun and interesting. I also read the comments and found those to be a at times towards the rude side of the spectrum.

      I am an American living in the Netherlands. And the truth of the matter is that culture is often subjective to a certain extent and also can differ greatly from place to place in one country. I live in Amsterdam and the culture here in the city varies (sometimes quite a lot) from some of the smaller towns, much less villages. You have overall traditions and then you have traditions that are quite specific to one region or village.

      All that to say that the mother who wrote the article did so from her perspective and wrote about the little village she lives in. Personally, I know that I don’t yet know every inch of the Dutch culture (and perhaps I never will) as a Dutch person would — nor understand the reasons for every cultural specific thing for that matter.

    • Replying to Julie. I agree with Daniela’s perspective on the Italian blog post. I’m an American, but I have been living in Italy for the past few months. I was really disappointed in the Italian post (but I Love Love Love this series). While the other women in the series seemed to focus on the benefits of raising children outside of the U.S. with some attention on the challenges, the Italian poster had a very condescending attitude toward Italians. For example with the baby food–it definitely came off as “OMG Look at these weirdos feeding their babies horse meat!”

      Julie, I agree with you that it’s one mother’s experience, however when that experience is condescending, factually inaccurate and seems to mock a culture rather than reasonable discuss the differences, people have the right to question the author’s position. Do I think she should be flamed for it? Certainly not, but I do hope that the genuine criticism she received in the post causes the author to rethink how she views Italian culture & maybe be more open to seeing the differences as a positive thing rather than something to poke fun at.

  101. love your india pics!!! angie

  102. Gawd I love this series. I could read these posts forever. I can’t wait for you to start this up again next year. Thanks Joanna!

  103. I would love to travel to India! I feel like the energy you described would be amazing!

    Abby J.