20 Surprising Things about Parenting in Germany

hugo-graffiti-berlinFor our tenth Motherhood Around the World interview, we’re thrilled to feature Luisa Weiss, author of the blog The Wednesday Chef and book My Berlin Kitchen. Luisa lives in Berlin with her husband, Max, and two-year-old son, Hugo. Here are twenty things she found surprising about being a mom in Germany…

Luisa’s background:

Luisa was actually born in Berlin — to an American dad and an Italian mom — but left when her parents divorced when she was two. “I moved to Boston with my dad, where I went to American daycare and elementary school,” she says, “But I always visited my mother in Europe during school holidays and my summer vacation.” Later, she went to college in Boston, spent a year in Paris and lived in New York for almost a decade.

“My husband Max and I knew each other vaguely in high school, but I didn’t really meet him until I moved to Paris for a short-lived stint in graduate school,” Luisa remembers. “Max was doing an internship in Paris at the same time and a friend put us in touch. We started spending time together and fell in love pretty quickly.” A year later, though, Luisa moved to New York to start a career in book publishing and the distance proved too much for them. But their story wasn’t over yet. “Many years later, we got back in touch and fell right back in love again. I ended up leaving New York and moving to Berlin to finally start a life together.”

Berlin in winter

On first impressions: I arrived in Germany during a notoriously miserable winter, so the first few months I remember seeing snow and ice everywhere and feeling cold constantly. It was very quiet, too. Quieter, emptier, cleaner, colder and grayer than New York. I found myself missing my old life in New York. And of course my friends. It wasn’t great. It was actually kind of awful. But the crazy thing is that my gut was very peaceful about it all, even if the rest of me was lonely and scared.

On loving the neighborhood: We now live in Charlottenburg in the west of the city. Our area is quiet and residential. We live right across from Schloss Charlottenburg (Berlin’s largest palace), which is amazing—we often go for walks in the gardens. The city is quite large, but you can get everywhere pretty easily with buses, subways or above-ground trains. Berlin is a little different from the rest of western Germany because it’s been a historically poor city with no industry, so it’s much more relaxed than Munich or Stuttgart. There are lots of creative people who make their own hours.

On a hot-and-cold climate: The weather is…not great. Winters are long and cold and dark (we’re on the latitude of Labrador, Canada, to give you an orientation) and summers can be disappointing. There were days this June when you’d find me in a fleece sweater and socks. But! If it’s a good summer, there’s no better place to be. The skies stay light until past 10pm, the air has an incredible fragrance of linden trees and earth and grass (Berlin is the greenest city in Europe) and the vibe of the city is friendly, fun and inviting. It’s worth living through all the horrible winters.

On pregnancy chitchat: Pregnancy is celebrated in Germany, but people are generally pretty private, so you won’t necessarily get chatted up by people in public about your due date and how you’re feeling. I went to the U.S. when I was seven months pregnant and was happily overwhelmed with how extra-special-friendly everyone was to me, and when I got back to Berlin after that, I felt a little sad about the fact that people here are more reserved and quiet. Cue the tiny violins!

On having a baby in Germany: One of the things that surprised me the most was how cared for and safe I felt in childbirth and the crazy months thereafter. All of it was just so, so good.

Every pregnant woman is entitled to a midwife who makes house visits to care for you before and after the birth. My midwife was this incredibly chic and nice woman who would come once a week, do acupuncture on my living room couch and listen to my belly with a wooden horn. After the birth, she came to our house for six weeks to check in on me and Hugo—at first, every day and then slowly less and less. After six weeks, she said she wouldn’t come back unless I needed her, which caught me completely by surprise! I might have gotten a lump in my throat—after all, I had gotten so used to her care. Oh, new mother hormones.

The funny thing about the birth is that it was kind of hellish on paper (25 hours of labor complete with IV drugs, an epidural and then a Pitocin drip followed by an emergency C-section), but I felt so loved and taken care of that I have only happy memories of the whole thing. Each laboring woman is accompanied by a midwife on staff, and I cycled through four midwives due to my long labor. Three of them were angels on earth—kind women who took care of me as if I were their own daughter. I cry every time I think about them. (The fourth was a little cold and clinical. Each time I roared into a contraction while hanging on to a cold sink in our room, she would reach out and touch my shoulder gingerly with her fingertips and ask if I was okay! Makes me laugh now.) Their main concern, it seemed to me, was that I was feeling good and strong and brave at all times. After 12 hours of labor, it was one of the midwives who told me it might be time to get an epidural (I hadn’t been holding out; I just didn’t realize how much time had gone by) and after the anesthesiologist had come and gone, the midwife literally tucked me and my husband into bed like we were tired children. We were hunkered down in a room that looked like a hotel, complete with a double bed and a television.

motherhood in Berlin window

On maternity leave: Working women go on compulsory maternity leave six weeks before the due date and eight weeks after the delivery (at full pay) and can take up to 12 months off at 65% pay (depending on your income level, the percentage changes slightly). Self-employed women can take up to 12 months off, at approximately 60% of the previous year’s income. So, even though I was self-employed, I could take a year-long maternity leave! This is the difference of a country with a low birth rate—the government has to make having children attractive. It’s wonderful to feel so valued as a woman. The government is showing you that your contributions to society are valuable and worth supporting, which feels really good.

On childcare: In western Germany, many women stay home with their children until they are three years old (at which point a daycare spot is free and guaranteed). My pediatrician gave me a lot of pressure for going back to work when Hugo was 18 months old; she thought I should stay home with him until he was three. But most women I know went back to work sometime around the one-year mark. When parents go back to work, they have a couple options: either daycare (called kita) or a tagesmutter, which translates to day mother. A tagesmutter works out of her own home and takes care of a few children at once, usually not more than four or five.


On money from the government: Parents get money from the government each month called Kindergeld. You get about 200 euros/month per child, depending on how many children you have. The money is to help with diapers, food, toys, whatever. It’s not an enormous amount, but a nice chunk of change. You get paid that amount per child until they’re 18, but if they don’t have a job after that, then they get it until they’re 21, and if they’re studying, they get it until they’re 25.


On making friends: In general, I find that while German women aren’t as outwardly friendly as American women, the moment they decide to open up to you, a far deeper and more meaningful friendship can develop quite quickly. Strong friendships are very common, and women here are happy to talk candidly about the struggles of motherhood. In general, Germans are allergic to insincerity, which is refreshing.

The nice thing is, when it comes to parenting, German people don’t think anyone else has it figured out. There’s a sense of self-reliance—you do what you need to do and you’ll figure it out, and people are nice and not judgmental. I’ve never felt judged here. If anything, the criticism comes from inside me!

On the Berlin disposition: Berliners are well-known for their grumpy attitude. A lot of expats, tourists and friendlier Berliners find it off-putting until they learn to deal with it. But there are lots of friendly people in Berlin, too, and as long as you are polite, most people will be nice to you.

On child-friendly activities: Hugo’s favorite thing is to go to the zoo. He is obsessed with animals. OBSESSED. Hippos, rhinos, elephants, buffalo, giraffes—he loves them all. And Hugo loooves puddles. He cannot resist them. Every time he jumps in one, he screams “patsch!” (which is German for “splat!”) with glee, which is pretty great.

On playgrounds: There are lots of playgrounds in Berlin, even in the very middle of the city. They have wooden play structures and are always built on sand. Sand feels a lot nicer than wood chips or even those rubber mats I’ve seen in the U.S. In the summer, you can take your shoes off and (if you close your eyes) feel like you’re on vacation. Everyone brings shovels and buckets in their strollers. So even if you have just a little baby, going to the playground will entertain him or her.

On toys and books: Germany is the producer of many world-famous toys, from Selecta, Haba and Hess wooden toys to Playmobil figurines and Schleich animals (which Hugo is obsessed with). Toy stores generally have pretty fantastic stuff with a lot less plastic. As for books, there’s not as much of a focus on early literacy; kids don’t learn to read until they go to school at 6 or even 7. Daycare is all about free play.

On push bikes: One thing people here are really into push bikes without pedals or training wheels. Every single toddler here has one, across the board. The belief is that once you learn to balance, you’ll be able to ride a bike. You’ll see a lot of little kids—three and four years old—riding real bicycles. Sometimes I’m like, “Wow, that’s a really small person riding down the sidewalk.”

On the local fare: Germans traditionally have a hot meal at midday and a lighter, cold meal at dinner. Most children will grow up eating open-faced sandwiches with their parents at dinnertime (called Abendbrot, or evening bread). You might have a couple of slices of dark bread, butter and a slice of cheese for one piece of bread and a piece of ham or salami (or a shmear of liverwurst) on the other. A few slices of cucumber, some tomatoes, or a couple of slices of kohlrabi round out the meal. Easy!


On teaching self-reliance: Hugo is two, and we recently had a parent/teacher conference with his daycare. The teacher said, “I’m concerned about his coming into the group of older kids.” I asked why, and she said, “He needs to learn to stand up for himself more. When other kids come up and take toys away from him, he just lets it happen.” I was like, well, isn’t that just sharing? And she said, “He needs to either take the toy back or fight. We teachers can’t fight all his battles for him!” I was laughing inside, because it was SO different from how we were socialized as children. In the U.S., we were taught that you have to share, you have to compromise. In Germany, it’s all about self-sufficiency and standing up for your rights. When German friends come over, and Hugo wants to play with something the other kids are playing with, my German friends will say to their kids, “Come on, take it back! Did you not want him to play with it? Go take it back.” It’s not meant to be confrontational or mean in any way. But their emphasis is teaching the child to stand up for himself.

On family dates: “Date night” is a term I’ve only ever heard in the U.S. Hiring a babysitter on a regular basis isn’t the norm. If grandparents live close by, they might watch your children for the evening; but otherwise you’d either not go out or just take your kids with you. People aren’t offended if you show up at a restaurant with children. Things in Berlin generally aren’t that fancy, and children are sort of expected, like part of the landscape.


On non-helicopter parenting: Childhood is a time of freedom and happiness. I see little kids walking or biking to or from school alone all the time. Sometimes on weekends, I’ll see kids in the neighborhood all alone, buying breakfast rolls for their families. Once a kid is around seven or eight years old, parents really encourage more autonomous behavior (that is controlled, obviously). Germans prize independence in children, which can feel a little strange to someone brought up in an American-Italian home (I think my parents would still like to hold my hand while crossing the street and I’m 36). The non-helicopter parenting totally extends into teenagerhood. I remember all my German friends having co-ed sleepovers. When you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, from basically fourteen on, you sleep over at their house in their room, unsupervised. Parents are so much more permissive and trusting—there’s a whole groundwork being laid of self-sufficiency and trust.

On work/life balance: Most German employees get about six weeks of vacation a year, and most people work 30 to 40 hours a week; It’s very rare to work beyond that. Being a workaholic isn’t considered a virtue. There’s the sense that you have to live your life, and that while a career is interesting and fulfilling, it’s not the whole picture. (In fact, I’d say it’s not even 50%. It’s part of a whole pie made up of your family, your friends and travel. Adult friendships are considered very important, for both men and women.) Germans value their time at home each day, and many women I know work part-time so they can spend afternoons with their children. There isn’t a lot of hand-wringing about “having it all.” People just naturally manage to live well, it seems, with work and leisure both playing important roles.

On why Berlin is wonderful: I love living here. On a practical level, Berlin is still relatively affordable. The cost of rent, childcare and health insurance are low enough that you can have a pretty great middle-class life without the constant pressure of having to make tons of money. There are great forests and lakes everywhere, as well as world-class culture and masses of fantastically interesting people. It’s such a wonderful place to be a mother or a child.

Thank you so much, Luisa! Read more about her on her blog The Wednesday Chef and in her book My Berlin Kitchen.

P.S. Motherhood in Norway, Japan, Abu Dhabi, Northern Ireland, Mexico, India, Congo, China and England.

(Personal photos courtesy of Luisa Weiss; sandwiches photo by Gourmandise; outdoor bike photo by Adam Berry; outdoor lounging photo by Thomas Meyer; bike/gallery photo by the New York Times. Interview by Caroline Donofrio and Joanna Goddard)

  1. Phil says...

    Great post. I grew up in Germany and immigrated to the USA at the age of 9. I am now a parent of two (a 4 year old boy and a 2 month old girl). My wife is from Panama so we are raising our kids to be trilingual. For the past 2 years, I have had a calling to go back to Germany so my kids can grow up with the free spirited childhood I had before I moved to the USA. I recall going to the public pool myself on my bike at the age of 6 (about 4km away) or doing some shopping for my mom in town. I feel this freedom allowed me to become the entrepreneur I am today, not afraid to step outside my comfort zone. I have had these types of discussions with my wife as well but these are of course from a biased source. Reading your post is really enlightening to me so that I can make sure it is not “all in my head.” Most likely we wouldn’t be going to Berlin but Freiburg instead where my family is based. Either way, I hope to make the move in the next year or two when my new company picks up some momentum but before it is fully established so a move can be made more easily.

    Thanks again.

  2. Nev says...

    I loved this article. Thank you :)

    It made me cry a little on the inside. I’m German and have been in England now for almost 10 years (10 in June) and I’m so done with it. I want to go back, but I doubt my British husband wants to :( I dunno what to do..

    Anyway… one might think the differences between British and German parenting aren’t so big, but they are. It’s a lot closer to the American way, I believe. (Not the Maternity Leave…that’s pretty good, I think)

    Thanks again..


  3. Michelle says...

    As someone who grew up in Germany with an American dad and a German mom, I can appreciate this and many of the reasons are the very reasons I chose to have kids in Germany rather than the US. I was often puzzled by how judgement and into each others business American moms are. Seeing how much US kids have to know academically and the whole idea of K4 with desks and 4 hours of lessons in math and English just blows me away. No one bats an eyelash at a German five year old who doesn’t know a single letter or number yet in the US that child would have big issues in Kindergarten. However, I dread school like nothing else and am thankful that we have the half day option. Schools are ROUGH here and bullying is often not dealt with because you are supposed to “stand up for yourself”. And the emphasis on independence is too much, to the point where teachers will scold you for driving your child to school. They want them to use the bus which would be fine if they were school buses and not regular buses that also carry students and are packed to the point where there are just as many people standing as sitting. I also hate the school system which divides children up into two different levels after only four years of school. Some kids are two independent as well. I cringe seeing first or second graders walking into the mall after school. They have no business there. But then again I LOVE always seeing kids outside. And there ARE always kids outside if the weather permits it, because the parents don’t have to follow their every step or fear arrest. I LOVE that most Elementary schools are only four hours- so much more time to be a kid. The idea of school from 8 to 3 plus homework is insane in Germany. Kids in full day school would not have homework.

  4. It is so interesting how our experiences are so different yet we are both expat moms in Germany. I am highly criticized for my parenting and my children are welcome nowhere. I am so happy that you have found Berlin to be a non-judgemental place where Hugo is welcome!! Enjoy it!

    • Laura says...

      Why are you criticised for your parenting? I am an expat in western Germany and am never criticised. I find the pressures of being a mom in America tough, but here everyone is more relaxed about parenting and children. Children have more independence and helicopter parenting is frowned upon. Sorry you are not having the same experience!

  5. This is so beautiful! I loved reading about motherhood is another location! It is so interesting to see her perspective from Germany!

  6. Julia Gratzer says...

    I love this article; it states very nicely so many of the aspects of living in Germany that I love. Life here is so great that I have to restrain myself from bragging about it constantly to my American friends and family. It’s kind of like Crossfit that way ;-) Now, I’ll just show them this article instead! Thanks for a great read!

  7. Nina says...

    I really liked the article – am currently living and working in Switzerland and the great conditions for having kids is one of the few things that could really get me to move back to the home country… a completely different story here in the “land of milk & honey”. However, I am not sure whether I agree on the work-life balance thing…I think Berlin is not very representative of the rest of the attracts a lot of creative people, young families etc. I was surprised to here that people work only 30-40 h …most mid-20s to mid-30s I know are putting in significant overtime and being able to fit some life into your work is a recurring topic. Especially if you work in industry, consulting, professional services etc.

    All the best,

  8. VERY well observed! I’m an American living in HAmburg with a three year old son and have observed all of these things (only thing I feel compelled to mention is that each German state determines the amount of child care subsidy — so in Hamburg for instance it’s not free but deeply subsidized and every kid is guaranteed a spot once they are one).

  9. I would be very interested to see the same perspective about parenting in Switzerland! I live in the German speaking region and there are many similarities to Germany. Some noticible differences too!

  10. “In general, Germans are allergic to insincerity, which is refreshing.” I loved so many things about this article. Like enough things that I won’t show this article to my husband because he would never stop begging me to move to Germany already. Especially Luisa’s thoughts on sharing! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my son (in German) to stand up for himself on a playground. I always feel sneaky because we speak a different language and most people won’t understand. But as he’s gotten older (and has to live with a brother who is constantly in his business), I do emphasize sharing much more.

  11. I currently live in Berlin and my only wish is to stay long enough to give birth here. The doctors are so lovely. I think being fast and efficient is mistaken for being cold/rude by many people, but they are so polite and respectful here.

    I found myself nodding to many of Luisa’s insights and have also learned a great deal of new things from this article. So happy that I found this article. Keep up the amazing work Joanna and Luisa!

  12. Vanessa, Kita costs differ from federal state to federal state and are calculated on a sliding scale if your family income is below a certain level. The price is also adjusted depending on whether you put your kid in daycare full time (7-9 hrs/day), part-time (3-5 hrs/day) or “teilzeit” (5-7 hrs/day. In Berlin, for example, a combined annual family income of €80k and above means you pay the full amount for Kita: circa €420/month for full-time care. (Individual Kitas may have extra charges for organic food or music teachers or other “extras” that might add on a few dozen Euros/month.)

    • Laura says...

      I live in western Germany near Frankfurt and we do not pay anything for Kindergarten. I feel bad as an American as I would like to pay something, but ours is a state run school that only costs €4 a month for drinks. I love this post and most everything about the German life. It’s quite different but so very refreshing. I’m happy every day here!

  13. A really great article – thanks for writing it. It’s very timely as my husband and I are contemplating a move to Germany. We just moved back to the US from England after just having my first born, and my god, they don’t take care of their citizens at all here! In England I was getting statutory pay from the government even though I was unemployed, just because I had a baby! And the midwives would also come to my house after the baby was born to check on me and him. I guess my main question with moving to Germany is, how much do the daycares/tagesmutter cost or does the government provide that for free?

  14. Oh I just moved back to the States from Muenster (in the NRW) and the thing about meaningful friendships is so, so true. I always tell people many Germans are like M&M’s. :) Hard outer shell, but sweet and soft on the inside. Once you connect, you are lifelong friends and they will go to the end of the earth for you and never bat an eyelash. That was my favorite thing about Germany. The honesty, the lack of insincerity, and the meaningful relationships.

  15. I think I want to live in Berlin!!! It definitely sounds like a child-friendly place where we could holiday with our little.

  16. im absolutely obsessed with your blog. such great content. I enjoy blogs of good quality and thats what you give….

    please check out my fashion and travel blog.

    Best regards

  17. It’s funny: Being a Berlin-born-and-raised-girl this one really opened my eyes on how different motherhood and parenting is all over the world can be just BECAUSE all the stated things seem so natural to me.

  18. I really enjoyed this article, and this entire series! I’m not a mother (yet!) but this is really opening my eyes to how motherhood and families operate across the world! Thanks!


  19. I love reading this series. This one in particularly heart-warming because having gone through a similar childbirth experience recently, it was interesting to see how it is handled in other countries.

    I too am tickled and now would love to visit Germany just by the lovely descriptions and the beautiful photos.

  20. Love this series! Joanna, I think you should make a book out of these! It could be such a cool gift for new mamas — it helps you keep things in perspective for all that’s to come in motherhood.

  21. Super article! We moved to Hamburg from Prague when I was already pregnant and must say that it is realy so kid-family friendly here. Hamburg is more friendlier, many people in malls were commenting on our adorable baby, same in restaurants. Our midwife kept coming for 3 months and then around 5-6 month again to give advice for starting with solid foods. My husband is American and he can see how different life balance is here..

  22. Luisa is wonderful and so is Berlin! I founded theBABYSITTERSclub in Berlin, Germany about 3 years ago: a network dedicated to helping bi-lingual parents find native speaking and bi-lingual sitters. Loved meeting and helping so many Moms from all over find great childcare. Way to go Luisa she’s a personal friend of some of my friends there, so even cooler to see her featured here. Berlin is the best. Ever.

  23. sherrie, that’s so exciting! where are you guys moving? we haven’t interviewed a mother in italy for this round of the series, but i will scout around to see if we can fit another post in!

  24. This series is fantastic! Is Italy on the horizon? We’ll be moving there in a few months and I’d love some insight on parenting there!

  25. Fascinating. I absolutely love this series.

  26. Really a great post. And I am happily surprised to see such a good review of parenting in Berlin. As I am a father of a 1-year-old boy here in Berlin, I can confirm that at least 95% applies for me, too.


  27. Janan – The distance isn’t so large if you consider the general culture here. Parents really subscribe to the idea that your child is a separate person from you almost from the start and try to respect that as the child goes from infancy to childhood to teenager-hood. Sleepovers are one way for parents to feel that they are least giving their teenagers a safe and supervised space to be together with each other. And I think there’s a sense that it promotes kind and tender relationships as opposed to furtive promiscuity? There’s a lot of openness about healthy sexuality here. Also, keep in mind that sleepovers don’t necessarily automatically mean that 14 year olds are having sex with each other. Most kids that age aren’t ready for that step, sleepovers or not.

  28. Lovely article, but I have to disagree on two points:
    one, children are allowed to be in daycare from the age of 1 by law, and two, self-employed people are allowed only two months of leave, not twelve, at least in my Land (region). Which can make things difficult if you have to work and can’t find daycare!

  29. I like they do not value beeing a workacholic… i am spanish, i will tell my boss ; )
    About the bikes, here in Spain is the same, my old son ride a real bike since he was 3, it is normal here
    very interesting the self suffience training for kids, i tell my kids they have to share too

    Love this posts!

  30. I’m not a parent, but this was one of my favorite posts of this series!

  31. I love Germany, and Berlin is one of my favorite cities! We used to spend parts of the year in Vienna, Austria, and while its a more formal city it has so many similarities regarding style of parenting. I finished reading this post, sent it to my husband with a note attached that I wanted to move to Berlin. :-) Since we run a study abroad program with American college students he said, that would be fun, wouldn’t it? I love that he and I think alike!

  32. This is so lovely! I love how Mommy-friendly Germany is. Your maternity leave is very pro-Mom and pro-infant. It’s the first time I’ve heard of giving a Mom leave before her due date. Very considerate. Also loving how the work/life balance looks very much achievable. Everything is so family-friendly!

  33. oh, as I’m just seeing this:
    Dear Janan,
    no need to be worried ;) Yes, co-ed sleeping (through all kid-to-teenage-ages) is absolutely the norm – except maybe for some really conservative patches in the countryside. But: from my own experience, as well as from a few statistics I’ve considered, teenage peregnancies or other problems the like are no issue in Germany. The kids are educated, they use protection – and most don’t have sex before they’re 16. So, it might seem unusual to readers from the US, but it’s not really that bad ;)

  34. This is fascinating! I live in Berlin (though originally from Bavaria) and usually get pretty annoyed about so many things German. About how people tend to be unfriendly, tense, disciplinary, how they let their children behave, how they judge etc etc.
    Strinkingly, the outside perspective really did open my eyes about a lot of the perks here; not only motherhood-related but in general. I’m 23 and not planning on being a mum soon, but this sure had me relax about the prospect :)

  35. I lived in Munich for four years with two kids so I loved reading this. Plus Berlin is one of my fave cities! I found myself nodding in agreement to so much of the author’s points except for the one about children being welcome in restaurants. I found that children weren’t really welcome anywhere but merely tolerated. Also, I found that Germans liked to stop you in the street to tell you that your child was dressed warmly enough for their liking. This bugged me especially as I had such a hot baby!

  36. I must be the only mom to teens reading this, because I haven’t seen anyone else addressing the elephant in the room! There is a long, long, long distance between helicopter parenting/not letting your kids be independent and boyfriend/girlfriend sleepovers at 14! Wow. I am just floored. Is this really the norm?

  37. that’s a brilliant idea, christina! thank you so much!

  38. Love this series, and I think a neat idea for another series would be on wedding ceremonies around the world.

  39. This is so interesting, I would love to see Berlin. Thanks Joanna and Luisa

  40. k. says...

    Wow, such an interesting and informative read. It sounds like such nurturing city to raise small kids which really makes me want to move from London to Berlin!!

  41. I loved this one. This sounds very similar to parenting in Holland.

    Have you ever thought about doing a pregnancy (& childbirth) series? I am a pregnant expat in the Netherlands and it’s amazing the differences between here and home! Even things like how people have reacted to our news. I’d love to know how it is for other women around the world.

  42. I have to add that I really like the importance of children learning to stand up for themselves. I’ve been pushing that with my own kids and I feel it’s better for them. Even when another kid at the playground gets rough or steals a toy, I let my sons figure it out on their own. I’ve encouraged them to fight for their rights. And at the playground, I don’t make my kids share. I don’t want them to resent having to share with other kids. I just tell them to say that they will give to the other kids when they’re done.
    As for stay at home or working, I think a parent should decide what works best for them without feeling any pressure from anyone.

  43. I can’t say enough how much I love this series. Please publish it as a book! I will buy multiple copies!

    Fav bit from German parenting, the anti-helicoptering. My oldest is 5 and I’m trying to allow him to do a lot more things on his own and even asking him to help me with specific things. Just the other day I let him go to the drinking fountain to fill his bottle by himself. He had to go out of my sight to do this. It was a success! I’m going to do it more now.

    Not so sure about the teenage co-ed sleepovers. I understand the trust, but I don’t see the need to enable.

  44. Hello, (East;b) Berlin born & bread having moved around a little in my days (THANKs to the Reunification:D) and now returned to my home a little while ago:
    Very great article explaining things Berlin:D…thanks I took the freedom to show it to some friends from around the world…even though none of us is even a mother (yet)…it so rings true in general about Berlin. Also liked the comments a lot !
    I especially noticed the way the comments show how the separation still rings through… . As yes!… maybe forced initially after the war with a lot of men being dead or away, women all over Germany did work while their kids were small, even very young. Still in the former East this stuck/ continued and and a lot of woman enjoyed the freedom it brought them… . Besides the socialist system being oppressive, I still think and was told by “Zeitzeugen”, that the big (sexual) youth revolution in the late 60s/70s in the former West was partly nonexistent in the East, because women here already had a lot of independence. And as this obviously becomes a culture, none of my young mother friends these days here in Berlin or from the former East would think twice about not going back to work relatively soon! Most say, yes it is not as easy as it used to be before the reunification as childcare can be expensive or not easy to organize (especially in the former West) but the value the independence and the more varied social connections coming with being at work is well worth the extra effort, basically they do not want to be JUST mothers and want to offer their offspring a love but also guidance in all phases of their life.
    So yes as annoying as it sometimes can be, when one gets asked still after 20+ years, which side of the wall one is from, there are some things that are different still and me and a lot of friends wish they continue to:D…as it should be everyones choice to make with support to both sides.

  45. Nobody has DISPROVEN a link between Aluminum and Alzheimers. We just don’t know. There have been many studies with conflicting results…some say there are links, some say there aren’t.

    If you want to be on the safe side and avoid applying it directly to your body, do it. But aluminum is in many things and you can’t avoid it.

  46. Amazing! I have a whole new found respect for Germany! Who knew. Sounds like a perfect place for both a mother and child. You are blessed to be living there.

  47. Mandi – you are correct for the most part. But our daycare, for example, is open all day long so both parents can work full-time jobs and I know a few other families who also have their kids in full-time daycare. But in fact, it’s not really the norm.

  48. Katherine – I’m a writer and work pretty much only in English, though I do speak German fluently. My husband is German and works for a German company. Berlin is increasingly rich in tech jobs that don’t really require a ton of German (or any?) – at least that’s what my friends tell me.

  49. @Katherine Howard, I work in Munich and speak only english, it really depends on your industry as to whether you need it. I work in the clinical research industry for an american owned company and everything is done in english, likewise a lot of engineering jobs etc only require english. I met a scientist in my german class and he said that while it wasn’t required to speak german (he didn’t) it was spoken much more widely than when he lived in switzerland where they primarily communicated in english at work.

  50. Great profile! Her son is adorable!

  51. I will be going to Berlin in just a few days! My in-laws live there and this is my third trip. This time with kids and this makes me so excited about the trip! I am originally from Bosnia and I lived in Germany for six years as a teenager. I still consider it my home away from home :)

  52. Thank you for this wonderful series! I really look forward to Mondays and reading these accounts. :-)

  53. What a great article, Louisa was able to explain what I tried to communicate for so long! I’m from Germany originally but live in Australia with my Australian husband. I have been trying to explain to him for years what I like about the way children are brought up in Germany and I will for sure show him this article when he gets home as it sums it up perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

  54. I really love this series, and this post in particular since I already follow The Wednesday Chef! Luisa does a really great job of painting a picture of both the positives and negatives of German family policy. While I’m not a mother myself, I’ve lived in Germany since 2008 and research the effects of various family policies on women’s lives. While Germany is certainly doing a lot of things right (especially in comparison to the US), its policies assume a very male breadwinner/female caretaker model which can be hard to break out if women wish to work full-time. For example: limited childcare availability for kids under age 3, primarily only half-day childcare, half-day primary school. The system is really set up so that one parent (usually the mother) needs to work part-time or stay at home. I say all of this only to emphasize that working part-time (or staying home) is less of a choice for mothers than a necessity. Of course women with small children do work full-time, but it takes some extra effort to push outside of the prescribed norms. All of that to say, things are changing and Germany is slowing moving towards a more dual earner family policy model (e.g., increasing childcare spots for children ages 1-2), but it will take some time before the norms change. Thanks Luisa for sharing, and Jo for putting this series together!

  55. Oh! One more thing (after reading more posts)…I would say that the “bringing kids to the restaurant” is just based on where you are, and perhaps who’s around…It’s all situational. I saw that a commentator said Germans DO mind when you bring a kid to a restaurant…But I thought to write that this is too generalized. As an American, I’ve been absolutely SHOCKED by how many kids frequent swanky restaurants and pretty much take over Hamburg! *BUT* then my husband reminded me that we are in Eppendorf, which is this little bubble of young families. So again, I bet it just depends on where you live (what neighborhood etc.) and it’s not so generalized like, “Germans don’t like this” or “Germans don’t mind it” because here in Eppendorf, I regularly see mothers relaxing on lounge seats outside a café while breastfeeding and I don’t think I go a single day without seeing at least 5 pregnant women with strollers taking over restaurants…And the kids are very well-behaved OR what I see most frequently is that kids are allowed to just run off on their own to climb a tree, chase other kids, chalk the sidewalk…Really, this area (Eppendorf) is a little kid-mecca! Which always makes me smile! :-) So again, I think it’s based on neighborhood and that the author of this article was not wrong in finding restaurants welcoming of kids…It’s all based on perception in the end, right? I’m sure there will always be a few people in a crowd who disagree with what’s going on but by and large, I find kids to be welcomed with huge open arms here in Germany!

  56. I am pregnant here in Hamburg, Germany with my first child…Originally from California! I loved reading this today :-) Everything she said rings true here in Hamburg as well. I know that Berlin has much cheaper rent than here in Hamburg, but even then, coming from Cali, Boston, and New York (all places I’ve lived) you will be astounded at the quality, amount of space, access to nature, and clean living you can get for 1/2 the price in the U.S.! Hamburg also has the most stunning public parks and I’m still – on a daily basis – gleefully surprised when I come across yet another children’s park. It’s like finding a golden egg…Except here in Hamburg, they are EVERYWHERE! There is such a lovely family-oriented vibe to Germany and it never ceases to astound me how much nature infuses every city and the country as whole! I have even found it hard to practice my German because so many speak English and are more than happy to switch over for you…And so far, every person I’ve picked up a conversation with has either lived or worked in America, which reminds me how much more well-travelled these folks are! They don’t need me to give them any “American cultural” lessons, that’s for sure! :-) Lastly, such a random note but I have never seen so many dogs unleashed as in Hamburg. The dogs here must be trained by special fairies because they all act human. They stop at crosswalks, stick to their owners, never make a fuss…It never ceases to amaze me. They are just adorable (and this is coming from a cat lady!). It’s also not uncommon to see mothers park their strollers (with babies) outside a store with no stress at all…It’s so safe here! And yes, I totally agree with this post that seeing babies too young to walk strolling around on bikes is the norm here! They start them on these bikes with no pedals and it is the most adorable thing ever because it helps them keep up pace with their parents but some are so young you wonder if they can even walk! :-)

  57. Love this post! I spent a very fun week last summer in Berlin with my three kids..we loved it! I was also so surprised at how American it was (compared to where we live in Switzerland). My kids were fascinated with Dunkin Donuts on every corner and the English movies and the whole American feel of the Sony Center. If anyone goes to Berlin with kids (mine are 6-12) don’t miss the Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears) really well done on experiences of divided Berlin. Also enjoyed was the Story of Berlin museum in west Berlin. Don’t miss the zoo either- the playground in it is huge and perfect for bigger kids..and there is a patio with wine/beer in viewing distance! We stayed in East Berlin – which felt like the West Village of NYC- and were welcomed at all restaurants- as were many other families – mainly German-with kids.

  58. I’m from the Philippines. I really love this series.

    I hope someone will write about motherhood in South Korea :)

  59. Fantastic! I loved that so much.
    Can I ask, what do Luisa and her partner do for work in Berlin? I’ve heard english speaking work is very difficult to find. Is that still the case? Do they speak German?

    A professional job over there and I’d pack my things! :)

  60. This is amazing. It makes me a little sad that we don’t have more support here in the US, sometimes this parenting thing feels like we’re going it alone. Even in our parents generation, moms at least had other moms to hang out with during the day. I hope something shifts here and very soon! Thanks for the wonderful post!

  61. I would love to see Luisa featured on “My Beauty Routine”. The first thing I thought was how amazing her skin is! She looks so healthy and natural.

  62. yup, definitely ready to pick up and move now!! :)

  63. Loved reading this. Having grown up in Germany, I miss many of these things and wish I was able to do them with my own children. It’s interesting to see it from a different perspective!

  64. Many thanks to Luisa and all previous contributors. I’ve enjoyed reading all of the series.
    Luisa indeed lives in a beautiful part of Berlin, one that charmed me on my first visit and several return trips.
    Only slightly related, but I remember encountering a stroller-bound young German at a Christmas Market in Munich, screaming at the top of his little lungs, “Nein! Nein! Nein!” and realizing that some things are universal…at least if you are two!

  65. Berlin sounds wonderfully relaxed! I’d love to visit.

  66. This series is my treat to read at the end of a long Monday:) thank you, Joanna! I hope you keep doing them!

  67. agreed!! i have been thinking about this interview all day—i really wish we had more support of parents in the US in so many ways. if the pressure to earn were lessened, it would leave time for so many other pleasures—friends, family, leisure…berlin just sounds so civilized. really makes you think.

  68. I LOVE this series, but it makes me so sad about how motherhood and children are viewed in the US. So many women here could desperately use a midwife coming to visit them every week and a year off of work at 65% pay. And the 30 to 40 hour workweek! The US, oddly, doesn’t really support family life (or when they do, it’s for some skewed political purpose). You’re expected to just do it all.

  69. Reading the accounts of women in 1rst world countries, you’ve gotta ask yourself why the AMA tries so hard to dehumanize the entire experience for both men and women. Can you see our hospitals with double beds so the husband can stay? Makes our country seem radically inhumane. Especially considering the insurance we pay.

  70. This was a nice post. I particularly enjoyed the parts about relationships and work/life balance. It makes me wish our culture in the U.S. could change for (what I think is) the better, for the sake of more living and friend-making. We would still have the difficulty of not being as close to as many different countries, though, which would not give us the advantage of traveling so cheaply (in comparison to plane travel)…

  71. Um, I think I may want to move to Berlin.

  72. This interview makes me want to get my Dutch passport and move to Europe (my mother is Dutch). Parenting seems so much more supported there then in America. I love these series!

  73. Everytime I read one of these posts featuring a European country, I want to move there!

  74. This is by far my favorite series on CoJ–please keep them coming! They’re so incredibly fascinating.

    I just finished reading Luisa’s excellent memoir (highly recommended if you haven’t read it already!), so I was delighted to see her being profiled here, especially since the book leaves off just as she and Max have gotten married.

    I’m originally from the US, but have been living here in Vancouver (Canada) for the past four years. I had a midwife when I gave birth about two years ago. She also paid house visits for the six weeks afterwards and it was the most amazing thing, to feel like you were really being cared for and looked after during the sort of crazy postpartum period.

    And Joanna, I totally agree with you about not sharing. I read an interesting parenting book recently called “It’s Okay Not to Share” that delves more into that topic that you might want to check out too :)

  75. I love the whole blog but this post was especially interesting as I am a girl from Berlin, lived in Ireland for nearly 10 years and moved back with my irish husband and a 1 year old boy last year. And the post really expresses how we feel living in Berlin. I also miss the friendlyness of the Irish especially now that I am pregnant and not once someone offered me a seat on the underground. However the childcare, and also care during pregnancy is fabulous and we also love the billion things which you can do in Berlin with a toddler. Unfortunately even after so many years there is still a cultural difference between the east and the west (maybe not so much in Berlin) – especially when it comes to the decision whether you stay at home with your child after he/ she turned one. As women in the former east where practically forced to go back to work the stay at home mum nearly didn’t exist. And I find it a lot more accepted in the eastern part of Germany that women work even full time with a small child. Great post thanks and I cannot wait for the next interviews.

  76. This post was soo positive! :)
    However, as someone who grew up in an Indian-American household, some things were crazy different than my childhood.

  77. awww, man, we are SO doing it wrong in the states!

  78. Thank you so much Joanna and Luisa! I just love the simplicity of German toys.

  79. The maternity leave is so incredible!

  80. Thank you for this series & the post today. What a sweet boy!
    The interview with Luisa makes me appreciate the life I have. There are obviously things which are different in my part of the country, and I disagree with some comments concerning kids in restaurants (yes! or like Luisa said, we bring them or stay at home) or staying at home (all mums I know went back to work between 4 and 14 months after birth – some only for the money, some also because they just wanted to work. I went back after 4 months and have not heard bad comments so far.). But overall I can really relate – there will always be small differences between regions or different groups of people. I am looking forward to the next fantastic interviews!

  81. I love Berlin. Yes it’s cold, but I actually found the people there to be so friendly and welcoming. The only challenge there was trying to speak German! (die, der , dem, den, I’ll never get it right!)

  82. This was absolutely my favorite post so far. What a wonderful take on mothering. I loved how she included advice on how other cultures handle the sticky stuff, like sharing, and money, and work life balance. Wonderful wonderful reading… thanks ladies. This is educational and inspiring.

  83. Also, I just had to keep commenting (such a great post and interview)… there was a recent article (now I can’t find it of course) about “sharing” – and how kids shouldn’t have to just hand over toys, etc. I agreed wholeheartedly with it and have been trying to teach that to my kids – that if they are playing with something and someone else would like a turn, I let my child know but give my child additional time with the toy before asking them to give the other child a turn. And we return the favor – I don’t encourage my children to ask/beg for other toys to the point where the other parent feels they have to hand it over. I love the idea of it – we’ll see how it ends up working… ha!

    I’m also super intrigued by a few of the comments here (that I had a chance to read/see) by European moms who said they loved reading this because it made them appreciate their benefits and life more than they do on a day to day basis. I wonder if reading something like this from American moms would help us realize how good we have it too. Regardless, loved this so much! Thanks again.

  84. Courtney – the brand is Selecta and the name of the model is Musina.

  85. Really enjoyed this one… I enjoy them all though. But I do really love Luisa’s blog and have lots of recipes I make all the time that I got from her originally. So it’s fun to hear this perspective on her life.

  86. Sadie – breastfeeding is considered normal and certainly can be done anywhere (I even nursed Hugo on a city bus once in desperation), but I’ve found that people are very discreet about it. It’s a non-issue.

  87. This had to be one of the coolest posts ever – kudos to Luisa! I’ve always loved Europe and reading about being a mom over in Germany just reinforced everything that I love about the European (and apparent German) culture. Thanks so much for sharing – so so fascinating. I’m ready, with many of your other readers, to pack up and move to Berlin! We’d have so much fun! (oh and the bit about standing up for yourself was so so intriguing – I like the idea of that)

  88. Ah, I have to say this one is my favorite in the series so far! Thank you so much for sharing! I studied abroad in Germany and ever since have been convinced that it would be a lovely place to have a family. Although I agree there are some downsides and things you have to get used to as an American, I completely love the last section where Luisa talked about how Germans, specifically German women / mothers, look at the whole picture of life and don’t stress about working constantly and “having it all.”

    Now if only I could convince my husband that we should move back…

    Sidenote – I LOVE that floor mobile Hugo has in one of the pictures. Could Luisa share the brand / where to buy from?


  89. Maimädchen/Isabelle – there is no more East Germany (capital E) and West Germany (capital W), but eastern and western Germany still exist in geographic terms that I have anecdotally found also extend to some social conventions – specifically the choice of when to go back to work after having a baby! :) That’s what I was getting at referring to “western Germany”.

  90. Ah, I have to say this one is my favorite in the series so far! Thank you so much for sharing! I studied abroad in Germany and ever since have been convinced that it would be a lovely place to have a family. Although I agree there are some downsides and things you have to get used to as an American, I completely love the last section where Luisa talked about how Germans, specifically German women / mothers, look at the whole picture of life and don’t stress about working constantly and “having it all.”

    Now if only I could convince my husband that we should move back…

    Sidenote – I LOVE that floor mobile Hugo has in one of the pictures. Could Luisa share the brand / where to buy from?


  91. I just love this! It’s making me want to up and move to Berlin with my husband so that we can raise a family is such blissful and supportive conditions. Thanks so much for posting.

  92. Great article, except for one thing: as someone who grew up in Germany, and now lives in Berlin, I can safely say that in general, children are not actually welcomed in restaurants. In Berlin (a much more liberal, flexible city), they are tolerated, although when there is a child there, all the childless tables are secretly wishing you hadn’t brought them along. (Unless it is a super low-key Imbiss). In the rest of Germany, children in restaurants is a total no-no. It isn’t that we don’t like children— it is just that there is a time and place for them, and adults greatly value their “adult time” where they can speak freely and enjoy a relaxing evening, and children are seem as disrupting this. All of my german friends with children know this unwritten rule, and do hire babysitters.

  93. This series is fascinating – I’m really loving it. And Luisa seems so wonderful – thank you so much for featuring her!

  94. I loved this article! Being from Germany myself, its great to see how people from other countries see everything.
    @kathryngb: on the back-to-back pregnancies: you can take max 3 years off work without losing your job, but only the first year is with 65% pay. the 65% is based on what your income was before. if you do not have an income because you are a student for example, you are entitled to minimum 300 EUR per month.

  95. alison, i agree about sharing! sometimes my son will be playing with a toy at the playground, and he’ll be having a great time, and another child will come up, and their parent will tell toby, “would you mind sharing?” and he’ll have to hand it over. i always think, well, why? he was playing with it, and maybe he should get to play a bit longer. as an adult, you would never just have to hand something over if a stranger wanted it :)

  96. jessica, that is so exciting!!!! i bet you will love it!

  97. parenting around the US is a brilliant idea. i agree, norms can vary so much. thank you!!

  98. What a great series! So interesting to hear how mothers and babies around the world do their thing. One thing I always want to know more about is breastfeeding– what is normal? Is it done openly or privately?

    I love the idea of a “motherhood around the U.S.” series. I am a lifelong rural Midwesterner with a one-year-old, and I often can’t relate to the high-pressure, achievement-oriented, helicopter-parenting that people seem to associate with living in the U.S. And the pressure to work vs. pressure to stay home is very different in different parts of the country.

  99. I am from Berlin and a mother of two girls 2 and 1 yr old) and i felt like somebody is describing my life. So true, so well described! I will say HI if i once meet her on the playground :)

  100. I’m from Germany, it’s kind of hilarious to see what other people consider odd – I never thought of our sandwiches as being ‘open-faced’ but I guess they really are…also I totally agree with the whole moving there in winter thing. I did that and it was the worst, sadly I had to leave again before the winter ended.

    I have to disagree on the babysitting though. I had quite a decent pocket money when I was a teenager just by babysitting a few kids on a regular basis…so I guess it’s a mix between Berlin being welcome to kids and just personal taste.

    The thing with the childcare-money, it’s quite a big debate as pointed out by Isa. It’s the way it is with most countries, if you are more conservative you stay home longer and benefit cause the state gives you money for it. If you need the money you go to work earlier. Also unfortunately the whole guarantee with the kindergarten placement does not work yet (even though the conservatives promised this). Further, most men take their 3 months parent leave only because then they get more money all together (if both parents take at least three months) even though sadly many dads do not actually spend much time with their kid during that time, because they either take it while the mother also is on leave or when the kid is in kindergarden or with family. Of course there are exceptions…

    I have to disagree with Maimädchen. There is no west and east, but only if you live in the west. I thought so growing up and then I moved to the east and ever since it is clear to me that the country is still split in two parts in so many ways, but you mostly notice it in the east…or if you go back to the west and see the reactions people have when you tell them you live in the east, not to mention the way the country is divided by dialects like that. It is still present, I think Luisa was right to describe it that way.

  101. This makes me so ridiculously happy! I love Luisa’s story and it’s wonderful to see her and her family thriving in Berlin. Thanks so much for this glimpse into her life!

  102. I really loved this interview (I love all of them actually!). Parenting in Berlin doesn’t sound too far off from parenting in Toronto as far as health care, midwifery care, and maternity leave goes. The major diference and where I cannot help but be jealous comes from the cost of daycare! It’s so expensive here and totally structured- my daughter is going to start this August and it bums me out that her day is filled with so much structure and she’s not even two. I guess I feel like she has a lifetime to follow rules and I wish her life could still be filled with “free play.”


  103. I just love your posts on parenting around the world! As a new mom, I often daydream about how I want to raise my son and I don’t always agree with how people raise their kids here (in Montreal). I especially love the part of this post about kids standing up for themselves. Often young kids don’t want to share and that’s okay. How are they supposed to learn to want to share if adults are always telling them to. Lovely pictures too!

  104. oh my goodness, I have never had any strong attraction to Germany before, but this kind of makes me want to live there! Especially the bit about the nice, long maternity leave. I also really appreciate the generally more European attitude (in my experience) that work is not the be-all-end-all of life, that other things like family, friends, travel and enjoying life are essential. Thanks for the great post!

  105. I LOVE this series. I get really excited when I see that you posted a new one! (and geez louise Joanna, don’t you know anyone who isn’t gorgeous?!) :)

  106. Since I’m from Germany, grew up and still live here I was really excited about reading about Luisa’s experiences in Germany!
    I loved how she described life in Germany,especially since Germans love to complain about Germany. ;)
    However I have to point out that there is no “Western Germany” or “Eastern Germany” anymore. There’s only one Germany – wich (luckily) is united since almost 24 years. So, we really shouldn’t distinguish anymore.
    I really don’t want to be rude – especially since I’m sure it wasn’t Luisa’s intention to do so!!! But I really had to point that out since I’m always asked if there’s still the wall seperating the eastern & western part of Germany when I’m in the U.S. ;)
    Nevertheless, I absolutely loved everything about her descriptions and experiences. I hope that she will have many more happy years in Germany with lots of positive experiences!

    Isabelle :)

  107. I love this series! My husband and I are moving with our 2 children to Hamburg, Germany next month so this one was very timely. I really enjoyed reading all of her insights about parenting in Germany. Thanks so much for the great blog post!

  108. Absolutely love this series! I am not a mom but I think it’s an incredible thing to link all these women around the world through this one common factor of parenting! I love hearing each woman’s opinions and insecurities as well, I hope this teaches us that every woman has struggles and we are all in it together :)

  109. Until today I found this series so insightful (is that a word?) and always was curious about how parenthood is different in each countries. BUT, being born and raised in germany, this was the first time I got to know how people from other countries might see the german childcare-system and general family-related politics. You just take maternity-leave and kindergeld for granted here….
    stunning! it’s really a great post and I was surprised how true everything felt! I never considered the points, Luisa is making, some kind of special…
    Maybe the only thing I would want to emphasize more, is the enormous pressure, to be a stay-at-home-mum for the first three years (and I know many women who didn’t return to work until their youngest child turned 18….!!!). You are considered a “rabenmutter” (raven mother) if you go back to work and “leave” your one year old child at the kita. In general, gender roles are still pretty static and not up to date in germany: It’s not common at all that the Dads take 12 months of Elternzeit (parents time), as the law allows them to.
    BUT – these are matters of politics here and have nothing to do with this great post and the fascinating series!!!

  110. Thanks so much, Rachael!

  111. This is my very favorite series that you have! I don’t even have children but it’s fascinating to see the way that people live and raise their children in these different cultures. Love this!

  112. So much of this reminded me of living in Barcelona. Especially the bit about living a stressless middle class life without trying too hard. The playgrounds here also have only sand and we always have pails and shovels in our stroller basket. But rules for sharing are totally different. What your kid finds at the playground is theirs until some other kid’s parent comes over to ask for it back when they’re leaving.

  113. LB says...

    Berlin is one of my favorite cities. Maybe having kids would sound like a better idea to me if I lived there. The healthcare, the non-helicopter parenting stye, the wood toys and emphasis on children being independent. And German beir, of course. Wunderbar!

  114. Love this post!
    I was a new mom in Berlin and so much of this rings true. Now that we are back in the US I really miss the easy parenting style there. Also the free daycare and the beirgarten/playground down the street from our house. But I do not miss those Berlin winters, oh boy.
    I’d love to spend summers in Berlin and winters in SF!

  115. @lauren e, health insurance is mandatory and a percentage is taken out of your pay up to a certain threshold and your employer also makes a contribution. If you are the only one in your family working this covers your spouse and children also. I’ve been here a year (from new Zealand originally) and so far am impressed with how smoothly it works.

    Thanks jo for a wonderful post, I also love luisa’s blog. As an expat in munich I think luisa really nailed the work life balance that is so important in Germany!

  116. Wow! I am myself from Berlin and this profile was so interesting to read. It’s incredible how different the perception of some things are when you’re not from Germany. I laughed out loud about Luisa’s observation that all the kids have push bikes – she is so right :)!

  117. Joanna- I can’t tell you enough how much I truly love this series. This inspires me to move across the globe and live in another country for a time. I’m so curious to hear how life, motherhood, and family values are different across the continents. Thank you again for the enlightening series. :)

  118. As always, another wonderful post! I loved reading about their lives and I love the name Hugo! Such a sweetheart. Thank you so much, Jo!

  119. Love this series, especially since I’ll be a (British) Mum in October! Oh, I do fancy German midwifery care…

  120. What an enjoyable post! I worked as a nanny in Munich for a summer in college and can relate to so much of this. I found German culture to be really (and refreshingly!) supportive of motherhood. I am also fascinated by the culture of friendship. There is little small talk and it’s a big deal to be invited into someone’s home – it really makes friendship seem deeper and more sacred than I sometimes experience here in America.

  121. This was such a treat to read! I am pregnant now and if I can’t live in Germany, this makes me want to adopt a few of the attitudes she talks about. I’d love to learn how the government handles those benefits when women have back to back pregnancies? Is there any adjustment to the leave or amount mothers are guaranteed?

  122. This series is my very favorite part of your lovely blog. Luisa’s contribution here really shows what a fabulous place Germany is for mothers and their children (and I’ve enjoyed reading all the other posts in the series). Would you consider doing a “Motherhood Around the US” series? I think it would be wonderful to read. Cheers!

  123. Oh god, this post is just beautiful!!

    I’m German myself and I absolutely love how positive Luisa’s view is on living in Germany. Because most of us Germans tend to rant about things (like parenting, work/life balance, health insurance, daycare etc) A LOT!
    I’d really like to print and hand out this post so that people here would start appreciating all the good things like Luisa does ;)

    Thanks so much!

  124. If it weren’t for the weather, I’d say Berlin is my new dream place to live! It has all of the things I value in a place.

  125. Absolutely loved this, especially the part about non helicopter parenting (and the 4th midwife, hilarious.) Such a fan of Luisa and her blog. xo

  126. I’m not even a Mom and I get so excited when I see these interviews pop up! I image I live there and am curious to see how a young woman’s life is there… So exciting!

  127. That’s so funny about teaching kids to take their toys back or fight! I babysit for two German kids (in California) and their mom mentioned once in a matter-of-fact way that the son had gotten in trouble at school for punching another child in the stomach for taking his toy. I was shocked, but she just shrugged it off and said, “He’s just being a boy! He’s learning to stand up for himself.”

  128. I might need to move to Germany after reading this article

  129. I really like how in-depth these interviews are… they don’t just skim the surface, they really go into detail about experiences, and the government’s attitude to parenting, and childbirth… Love it all.

  130. I loved this and it makes me want to move to Berlin! I follow Luisa’s blog and Instagram feed so was totally surprised to see her feature today. She looks the picture of health, peace and happiness in the photos, what true beauty is all about!

  131. I’m moving to Germany on Thursday with a 16 month old and this post could not have been any more reassuring! I adore this whole series–thank you!

  132. I love this so much. I loved Berlin when I was there briefly, but this is AMAZING. I would love to raise kids there! I would be so sane :)

  133. I LOVE this series! I find it so interesting how life can vary country to country. Please keep em coming!

  134. I read My Berlin Kitchen before and it was awesome to read this article! <3

  135. I love this! If it wasn’t for the weather, I’d pack up and go now! Love the idea of encouraging children to be independent (shocking). I will say… sometimes these posts bum me out a little when I compare them to America’s way of “handling” maternity leave and mother/baby care. We’re doing it wrong! Same with work/life balance

  136. This was really interesting! In the beginning of the article, as she was talking about moving to Berlin and the winters, she didn’t sound like she liked it that much, and as the article went on she seemed to get warmer on the subject.

  137. Fascinating! I love this series. I almost want to move our family to Berlin after reading this!

  138. What a gorgeous family! I’m sure you had to cut the interview down for brevity’s sake, but I’m interested in how health insurance works there and what effect it has on families. I guess I could just Google :)

  139. Great post! I love this series so much and Luisa’s insight is so lovely and positive – it makes me want to go have babies in Berlin!

  140. I know, Luisa. I met her at a bloggers conference in Berlin. She is really cool and most of the things she writes about apply to parenting in Switzerland as well. Love this series so much especially since i will ve a future mun in November.

  141. Thank you so much for your post! This makes me want to pack up my little home & family and move right on over to Berlin. Love the pictures and the great work/life balance.

  142. What a fantastic profile, and so different and refreshing from the others. Luisa really makes me want to move to Germany :) I love this series and look forward to seeing more posts. Thanks so much Joanna (and Luisa)!