Motherhood

Motherhood Around the World

Motherhood Around the World

For the past four summers, we’ve featured a series called Motherhood Around the World

We’ve talked to mothers living everywhere from Mexico City to Iceland to Kenya to Northern Ireland to Sweden to India. As I’ve mentioned before, we decided to speak to American women abroad — versus women who were born and raised in those countries — because we wanted to hear how motherhood around the world compared and contrasted with motherhood in America. It can be surprisingly hard to realize what’s unique about your own country (“don’t all kids eat snails?”), and it tends to be easier to identify differences as an outsider. (We also talked to moms who grew up abroad about what surprises them about parenting in the U.S.)

We’re thrilled to be putting together our fifth installment now. I’d love to ask: Do you know any American parents living in South America, Southeast Asia, Russia or Eastern Europe? Or any other countries you’re curious to hear about? If so, we would love to hear from them. (To those parents: Please email hello@cupofjo.com with a couple surprising things about raising children where you live, plus a few snapshots of your life or a link to your Instagram feed. Thank you so much!)

Motherhood Around the World

Motherhood Around the World

Motherhood Around the World

Here are a handful of quotes from past interviews:

“People in Turkey touch and kiss your baby all the time. It’s not unusual for passersby — even teenage boys — to reach out to pinch my son’s cheek, tickle his feet or ruffle his hair. Strangers have actually lifted my son out of his stroller!” — Diane, 13 Surprising Things About Parenting in Turkey

“Date night is not a thing in the Japanese countryside. I once told some friends I had hired a babysitter to go out to dinner with my husband, and they were shocked. Restaurants are very expensive, and men tend to work very late — even on weekends — so it’s very rare to eat out… maybe just once a year. On your birthday.” — Yoko, 10 Surprising Things About Parenting in Japan

“Whereas Americans are inclined to blow their own horns, the English find this distasteful. This is also true for how parents talk about their children. In America, you might hear a parent say, ‘My son is learning the violin and seems to have a natural gift.’ In England, you’d hear, ‘We’re enduring Tommy’s efforts of learning the violin.’ You’re actually deprecating your children, in front of them, so they learn how to get along with people in society. As an English friend put it, ‘the tallest poppy in the field is the one you cut down first.’ ” — Erin, 15 Surprising Things About Parenting in England

“In Brazil, it’s said that you can cure a baby’s hiccups by sticking a tiny wad of paper in the middle of his or her forehead. I first noticed it on my nephew. I went to wipe away this piece of paper stuck to his forehead, and my husband stopped me saying it was for the hiccups. Then I came home from work while my mother-in-law was visiting and found my baby with a spitball on her forehead.” — Brynn, 17 Surprising Things About Parenting in Brazil

“We go camping right on the river. At night, we can hear hippos chomping on grass right next to our tent. Although we’re camping in the wild, it’s still a very well-managed park with a guard who makes sure predatory animals, like lions and leopards, stay away. We’re never scared, just excited. During a recent trip to the U.S., our kids were squealing with delight when they saw squirrels. Rodents are exotic creatures to them, while impalas and zebras are taken for granted!” — Jessica, 16 Surprising Things About Parenting in Zambia

See the full series here, if you’d like. Thank you so much!

  1. Karin Engel says...

    Maggie Doyne. BlinkNow.org. 30 yr. old NJ native who is mom to many in Nepal. Amazing story! Motherhood changes the world!

  2. amanda says...

    I’m so excited for this year’s series! I look forward to it every year and savor each one!

  3. Erin M says...

    I love this series! Glad to hear it’s coming back.

  4. Ana Lopez says...

    Yay! I love this series, I don’t have kids, but I think it’s very interesting what you can learn from other countries and their cultures through the lens of motherhood. And as a reader from another country (Mexico), It’s also interesting to see how foreigners perceive your culture and surprise about the things that you see as normal.

  5. Bre says...

    I would really like to hear non-US perspectives about parenting in the US. I think learning about how other cultures parent is important, but a critical reflection on parenting in the US would also be enlightening – a little like Nacirema :)

    (See this, if you don’t know about “The Nacirema”: http://www.ohio.edu/people/thompsoc/Body.html and possibly here, if it still doesn’t make sense: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacirema )

  6. sharon says...

    i think it would be cool to read the point of view from the children. as a child (i’m in my early 20s) of southeastern asian refugees, i’ve always struggled with balancing my american ideals and asian upbringing – ie. talking to your parents about dating is hard when your parents had (sorta) an arranged marriage. then, throw in the language barrier and culture differences. i’ve always wondered how other young adults like me manage it.

  7. Alyssa says...

    YEEEEESSSS I can’t wait for the return of this series! I talk to people about it all the time.

  8. Heather says...

    Every State!! … Would make a cool book also.

  9. ce says...

    i don’t know if she’s still in Argentina but i like this blog, i think it could be interesting to see the point of view of an american raising teenagers in another country. https://othersideofthefence.wordpress.com/

  10. Odile says...

    So happy to see this serie back! I enjoy every single stories from “motherhood around the World” :)

  11. I absolutely loved reading your stories from mother’s around the world!

  12. Joanna says...

    From a Polish mom of a Polish-Tunisian toddler, living in Qatar :)

    Similarly to what’s happening in Turkey, in Qatar random people seem very eager (too eager at times!) to socialize with babies/toddlers. It’s not only about talking to them, but also picking them up, kissing (!) or taking photos of them (!!). This leaves me so conflicted, as I know they mean no harm, but I can’t help but consider it a serious violation of my family’s privacy.

  13. I can’t think of anyone more fitting than Amber Folkman of A Momma Abroad (www.amommabroad.com). She has made the Philippines her home and has such a love for the country and its people. You need to feature her :)

  14. Anna says...

    We were living in Jerusalem, Israel (got married there and had two girls in Bethlehem) and knew some other families from the US living there. We moved back to the US, as did most of our US friends there with families, but
    Jerusalem might make a good location for this series. There are a lot of cultural surprises and a lot of unusual points of interest that are part of every day life.

    Thanks for the really great, well-loved-by-many series!

  15. Danielle says...

    What about step parents? I’m an American expat in London with a 6 year old half-English, half-Colombian step son. It can sometimes be a mind field navigating the step mom relationship with not one but two foreign cultures that he’s a part of…

  16. Liz says...

    How about an America’s Cup/ Team Oracle mum living in Bermuda? Only a few weeks left until the races begins!

    • Liz says...

      *begin

  17. Julia says...

    You could also ask foreigners living in the USA. r other foreigners living in other foreign countries! It’s so cool to see different points of view!

  18. Ashley Campbell of the blog Under the Sycamore lives in Oklahoma but landed in China today with her husband and five kids for 11 weeks.

  19. Rebecca says...

    Please interview Courtney Adamo living in Australia now?? LOVE her. And this series xx

  20. Kathleen says...

    Hi Cup of Jo (readers),

    I’m sorry to be a bother if that question has already been asked/answered, but could anyone tell me where the gorgeous swimming pool next to the white building is located in Iceland ? I’ll be traveling over there soon and would love to visit it !

    Thanks in advance !

    • Tara Bennett says...

      It is near Vik in the south of Iceland. Its about a 20 minute hike from the main road. It is a beautiful pool. It was one of the highlights of our trip! The changing rooms are a little dark and very “natural” but the hike and the views while soaking in the pool are worth it! I miss Iceland everyday — it was so amazing. Enjoy your trip!

  21. Marija says...

    Helou, beautiful post.
    In Croatia we have one year paid maternity leave. After the third child we have three years of paid maternity leave.

  22. Julia says...

    I would ❤️️ to read about parenting in Israel! ??

    • I am going to write Joanna to apply ?! I am an American living in Jerusalem, Israel with two boys, 3 and 1.

      http://www.modestjerusalem.com

      (misspelled my website in my last comment.)

    • Diane says...

      I second that nomination! We’re moving to the Philippines in June and her blog has been so informative :).

    • Karen says...

      Upvoting amommabroad.com! As a mom who grew up in the Philippines and now lives in Seattle, Amber’s posts are legit… and she’s had more adventures in the Philippines than I have :)

    • So much yes! I can’t get enough of Amber and AMommaAbroad! The Philippines is such an amazing country, I definitely look to her when I imagine raising my own children here one day (I’m Canadian and my husband is Filipino).

  23. Melina Bland says...

    You need to turn this series into a book! It’s so inspiring. I feel connected to all the mothers and love learning from them. Thank you for continuing it!

    • Andrea says...

      I’d LOVE a big, beautiful coffee table style Cup of Jo: Motherhood Around the World book. ?
      So excited for another summer of this series!

    • ann.e says...

      yes!!

  24. Julia says...

    I love this series, and would have loved to be a part of it, but sadly moved back to the US from Hong Kong 2 years ago, when my son was almost 3 and I was 30 weeks pregnant with my daughter. I would be thrilled to see Hong Kong expat life represented!

    • Julia says...

      I might add that repatriation is quite an interesting experience in itself! Having done it after 7.5 years away, I’d be curious how others reacclimate to the US again.

  25. Layne Dettor says...

    You won’t even believe how thrilled I am about this! Sadly, I don’t know any mothers abroad but I CAN’T WAIT for more stories!

  26. Erica says...

    This is my favorite series too! (ANd I’m not even a mom! :) I would even love to hear from other moms from countries you’ve already done…. I think there’s probably plenty of missing perspectives! This is like the perfect blogger/anthropologist’s combo! :)

  27. Annie says...

    Not gonna lie, this is my favorite series on your blog! I passed this on to my friend who lived in Singapore with her family!

  28. Lisa says...

    Can you label where the pictures are from???…the image of the pool is breathtaking!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes, it’s from iceland!

  29. ale norris says...

    I am so excited to have this series start back up. I have a two year old son and have been reading this series since you started it! My family lives in Mexico, and it’s been such an interesting dynamic when we go back to visit once or twice a year, to see how even WE do things differently when we’re there vs here in the US.

  30. Have you ever thought about compiling these stories into a book? I tried to find something similar a few years ago, and stumbled upon How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm, which is enjoyable but not from the same perspective that you offer. Tons of people would devour it! :)

    • Caitlin says...

      Yes yes yes! This please!

    • Isadora says...

      I second that! A Motherhood Around The World book would be such a nice gift for new mums!

    • Kate says...

      Oh my goodness, YES. I can’t count how many times I’ve brought up these stories in conversations since you began doing them. It’s absolutely my favorite blog series.

  31. YAY!! This is the series that got me hooked on Cup of Jo :) Can’t wait for the next installment!

  32. Lindsay says...

    Can’t wait! I love this series!

  33. Sharon from Scotland says...

    I am resolutely single, do not have children by choice, but I hoovered up every article in this series…………………….lovely x

  34. I love this series. I almost became an expat mom in US but I moved back when baby was 8 months.

  35. Shari Wiemer says...

    I’d be happy to contribute. I’m an American mom living in Malaysia for the last year (as part of a slow-travel round-the-world trip with my daughter who is now 12). We LOVE it here!!! Feel free to contact me.

    • Andrea says...

      Shari, your story sounds so intriguing! I want to hear more about your travels and life in Malaysia with your daughter!!!

      ???? Hoping you will be included this summer!

  36. Vicki says...

    My sister’s friend lives with her husband and son in Romania and we both think she would be perfect for MAtW! We’ll work on getting her on board!

  37. I don’t even have kids and I look forward to this series every summer! I especially love learning about education abroad – the kids in Ireland who were learning Gaelic in school was so fascinating to me.

  38. Celia says...

    Ah I love this series! So excited to see it return. I have to say the comment about raising kids in still England bugs me though. Of course it’s all down to perspective, but I know very few British parents who would agree we denigrate our kids in front of them – the aim isn’t to damage their confidence or make them feel that they can’t succeed, but we do tend to approach life (and parenting) with a dose of irony. And while this is a generalisation, I would say UK parents are possibly more wary of ‘special snowflake’ syndrome. There’s a view that telling your kids they’re amazing at something they’re not isn’t a great idea, and we’d rather praise them for the effort they put in, or for their positive interactions with other kids.

    • M says...

      Yes to this comment!
      But while there are bits of the England and N. Ireland articles I don’t recognise as being fully having grasped some subtle aspects of Britishness (and so I am sure that it will be the same for locals/natives of other countries when they read the article on their own culture) it is after all just one (foreign) person’s perspective and so it will never fully be 100% objective or comprehensive. And some people are more perceptive/insightful than others and there will be differing levels of language ability and integration into the local society. The ones I find most interesting and insightful is where one half of the couple is native and the other half is American as I think in general those are the families who are better able to get under the skin of the culture and they have to navigate the cultural differences daily in their own relationship as a couple.

      I really love this series!

  39. I LOVE this series and it gives me so many things to think about for when I have my own kid!

    • Carrie says...

      Agreed, I’ve picked up so many neat things to consider for when I have children someday! Not just through this series but the whole blog/comments.

  40. Lori says...

    Love this series! I’d be interested in a segment about parenting in Canada’s far-North. Fly-in communities, Aboriginal food and culture, and living on the frozen tundra where the sun never sets for weeks at a time in summer and disappears for weeks in winter must make for some unique differences in family styles and parenting!

  41. This is my favourite series on your blog and that’s high praise since I love everything.

    • Lo says...

      seconded!

      Lo

  42. Callie says...

    YESSSSSS I AM SO EXCITED! I’ve read all of the posts in this whole series no joke, 3x. Completely fascinating!!!

  43. Yay, Motherhood Around the World is back! I can’t wait to read this year’s submissions…

  44. I moved to the Netherlands last year and promptly got pregnant with our second child. Having had our first in the US, I found it so interesting how the maternity and birth process were handled here, compared to the states. I would love to read about other women’s birth stories from around the world as well, as many expats I’ve talked to who live here have actually been reticent to get pregnant while abroad because they are nervous about having an unfamiliar birth experience. (I, on the other hand, LOVED giving birth here and tell everyone they should experience the Dutch maternity system!)

    • Oh yeah, and I should mention that my very first comment on this site was on the Motherhood Around the World post for the Netherlands. Another expat saw my post and emailed me, as she had just moved to the Netherlands as well and now we’re great friends!

  45. Yea!!! My favorite!!! I’m so excited! I’m still hoping for a book. Gotta get that going! There is demand!

  46. this series and the ‘my beauty uniform’ series are my absolute favourites on your blog!! can’t wait for this next instalment x

  47. Alex says...

    I love this series and I’m excited to read more experiences! I especially enjoyed reading about parenting in Japan and Brazil. My husband’s father is from Japan and my husband spent several years living there as a young child. His mother is from Brazil and my husband spent a few summers living there. These posts gave me a peek into what his life might have been like as a child. The spitball story is hilarious. I wonder if he ever sported spitballs on his forehead!

  48. LLM says...

    I’ve followed this blog for several years and thought she might fit the bill for what you’re looking for…
    http://www.marshallsabroad.com/

  49. Megan says...

    Love Motherhood posts! Might be fun to give a shout out to dads and do a piece on Fatherhood Around the World. It would be an interesting spin and insightful too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea! we actually have a dad in the series coming up this summer!

    • Trisha says...

      Yes! I definitely agree! I have a great guy who stays at home with our kiddo while I work! I would love for him to be included in something like this…. but we are in the States, so…..

  50. Cynthia says...

    I love this series!

  51. Liz C says...

    I can hardly wait! I’ve read every Motherhood Around the World post :-)

  52. This is my all time favorite series on Cupofjo. I can’t wait to read the next installment!

  53. Thao says...

    Would be so interesting to see a series (or better yet – a virtual panel!) on regional parenthood in America too! I have lived all over and am currently parenting in the Midwest … it’s a culture shock for sure.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!! what an awesome idea, thao!

    • Elisabeth says...

      Yes! I second this! What a great idea!

    • Traci says...

      Yep, I was coming here to suggest this, too. Our regions can often feel like totally different cultures, and I’d love to read more about parenting in other U.S. regions.

    • Stacy says...

      I agree! I’d love to read about different areas of the United States and how they parent. I can only imagine how different New York, California, or Florida would be to my Northeast Wisconsin upbringing!

  54. Vera says...

    I think it’s also important to acknowledge the differences in social policies other countries offer in regards to paid maternity/paternity leave, post partum support, neonatal and maternal care, daycares, insurance coverage, doulas, etc. I’ve loved reading this over the years, but it’s also highlighted how many more benefits other countries offer as opposed to the U.S. Many mothers here are forced to return to work after mere weeks, because their jobs are in jeopardy and/or they cannot afford to take unpaid leave.

  55. Emily says...

    What about american women living in Canada? (Me.)

  56. Sabrina says...

    My cousin lives in Cambodia with her daughter. I’ll pass this along to her.

  57. Angela says...

    If you ever do another segment of women who were raised abroad talking about raising kids in the USA, I have a friend who would totally go for it. She is Brazilian and her husband is half Brazilian. They’re currently raising their two girls here in Texas. She talks all the time about her Brazilian friends thinking she was crazy for having two vaginal births (rather than elective caesareans), but she thinks we are all crazy for not piercing our daughters ears before we leave the hospital after they’re born. Oh, and she also talks a lot about the struggles of raising bilingual kids. Anyway, you say the word, and I’ll holler at her to send you an email.

  58. Rae says...

    I’m so glad you are bringing back this feature! It has always been one of my favorites. I always find myself reading these posts from your archives.

  59. I’d love to read an edition from someone living in France.

  60. Caroline says...

    SO excited for the return of my favorite series!

  61. Sarah King says...

    Yay! My favorite series!

  62. Jess says...

    I adore this series, and I don’t even have kids! Something that I would love to see (if possible) would be mothers of children over the age of 12. I’ve noticed that none of the mothers have teenagers, and I am curious how it works when the kids are older – whether they have always lived abroad or are doing so for the first time.

  63. McKenzie Cunningham says...

    While I don’t know anyone living in those areas, I do ‘know of’ Amanda Marshall from the blog Marshalls Abroad! She’s currently raising her 3 kids in Zagreb, Croatia, but also lived with her first child for a little bit in Japan! Check her out at marshallsabroad.com

  64. Emma says...

    I would love to see a more in-depth feature of immigrant parents raising children here in the states. And also a feature/series on parenting in the US outside of major cities, and in more unique circumstances in general. Parenting on a farm, parenting in the military, in the circus, etc. And foster parenting!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!! such great ideas, emma.

    • Paulina. says...

      I was just thinking the same. I have a cousin living in the states for over a year with 2 daughters and husband and i think that there are lots of stories that would be interesting to read about.

      Greetings from Chile!!!

    • seconded! what a great idea.

  65. Amy says...

    My favorite series! I would also love to hear a segment (maybe a follow up from previous entrants?) about moving BACK to the US after parenting abroad. Was the transition easier/harder than anticipated? What do they have new appreciation for? Do they miss their “other” home, or are they happy to back on their home turf?

  66. Kay says...

    I love this series. So happy it’s coming back.
    PS: What about Canadian women living abroad?

    • I know a Canadian mom living in South Africa (my country). Are you interested, or is this only for American moms?

      And then I have another friend who is South African, now living in Texas, and that is super interesting when we have our monthly chat.

  67. DCLQ says...

    I know several American mothers in Ukraine and Russia (Kyiv and Moscow). I am American but grew up in Kyiv, and being raised there was so formative to my outlook on the world and even aspects of my personality. Something about Ukraine specifically is totally infectious; I am now doing a PhD in Soviet Ukrainian women’s history!

  68. As a Greek, I would be interested to the American view of how kids are raised in Greece :)

  69. JR says...

    I love this series and can’t wait for more.

    I also *love* the quote you pulled from 15 Surprising Things About Parenting in England. I love the self-deprecating humors of the Brits. While I was growing up, my midwestern parents drilled it into my head to never brag about my accomplishments. But as an adult, I feel like social media has made bragging much more acceptable. And I don’t like it! It’s something I’m always trying to self-monitor when I post. All of this is just to say, I feel like we Americans could really use a hearty dose of this English habit, especially when it comes to parenting :)

  70. Michelle says...

    It would be really interesting to interview expat Mothers in the US and hear their perspective of what is different, strange, cool to them compared to their home country.

  71. Krista Sidhu says...

    Woot woot!! So glad this is series is coming back

  72. Alice says...

    Oh and that tip about rolling a baby on your legs to soothe and calm them (I think it was the Bedouin interview) works a charm!

  73. Alice says...

    This is probably my all time favourite online series. I did just think it had come early this year and my heart soared…then sunk!
    I raised my children partly outside my own culture, and love how being an outsider changes perspective. This series makes me want to move somewhere new every week! So fascinating. Just love it so.
    Cannot WAIT!

  74. My cousin had lived/raised children in Spain, Liberia, and is currently in Latvia. I’ll see if she’d be interested!

  75. Heather says...

    Hi Joanna, I’m not a mom but I really enjoy your motherhood around the world series. I’ve always wondered if you would ever consider a Motherhood around America series? Raising children on the east coast would be vastly different from raising children on the west coast, and the same could be said for the Midwest, South, and Southwest. I’m just rambling, but I’d love to read about that too!

  76. K says...

    Omg I can NOT wait! I live for this series, every year. It’s a big part of how I got introduced to the site.

  77. Carrie says...

    It would be neat to read a Marriage Around the World segment

    • Brianna says...

      Yes to a marriage around the world segment, or careers around the world. I don’t know any Americans parenting abroad – I have, like, three friends), but I’m excited for this series to return. It’s one of my favorite parts of this blog.

    • UM I LOVE THIS IDEA! I know that sometimes they do touch on that a little in this series, but that would be cool.

    • I second this! I lived in East Africa for awhile, where it’s considered inappropriate for couples to show affection in public. Even something as simple as holding hands is frowned upon. In contrast, friends of the same sex are very affectionate with each other–you’ll regularly see grown men walking down the street arm in arm.

    • Lauren says...

      Totally! Marriage Around the World could be amazing, though maybe too ‘hot to handle’ for Cup of Jo? Many countries don’t have egalitarian marriages (sometimes including our own, of course!), and so on.

    • Agree!

    • Amy says...

      Yeah!

    • Becca says...

      Yes!! It would be super interesting to hear how people find their spouses in other cultures… and then how they make marriage work in those different circumstances!