For the past five summers, we’ve featured a series called Motherhood Around the World…
We’ve talked to mothers living everywhere from Japan to Iceland to Congo to Northern Ireland to Mexico to Sweden. As I’ve mentioned before, we decided to speak to American mothers abroad 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.
But! This year, we’d love to feature parents who grew up in each country and are now raising their own children there. We’re looking forward to getting their insightful takes on their home countries and what it’s like to live and parent there.
Do you know any parents who grew up and are now raising kids in South America, Russia, Eastern Europe or Portugal? Or any other places you’re curious to hear about? If so, we would love to hear from them. (To those parents: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
Here are a handful of favorite quotes from past interviews:
My kids attend Barnehage, the government-subsidized Norwegian daycare. They spend a ton of time outside, playing and exploring nature. They only go inside if it’s colder than 14 degrees. They even eat outdoors — with their gloves on! When I was worried about my son being cold, my father-in-law said, “It’s good for him to freeze a little bit on his fingers.” That’s very Norwegian — hard things are good for you. — Rebecca Zeller, 10 Surprising Things About Parenting in Norway
Namibia is a beef-obsessed nation; it’s like a national pastime. You’ll find many people selling barbecued beef on the street — the smell is intoxicating. Before I moved here, I wasn’t a big meat person, but I’ve been converted. They slaughter the cow right before they cook it, so it’s much fresher and tastier than anything I’ve had in the States. When my son was six months old, a relative gave him a beef bone to suck on. He loved it, of course.” — Kaylan, 17 Surprising Things About Parenting in Namibia
The people here are just so wonderful. One day, we were walking to a shop and it started to lightly rain. My husband Josh was carrying Aaron, and we didn’t have an umbrella. While we were waiting at a crosswalk, a young man walked up to Josh and held his umbrella out over him so Aaron wouldn’t get wet. He walked us all the way to our destination, keeping Aaron dry the entire time. When we got there he just said goodbye and went on his way — to him, it wasn’t a big deal, it’s just something you do. — Diane Zhang, 13 Surprising Things About Parenting in Turkey
Parents in Seoul typically take their kids’ educations very seriously, and the technology craze here has developed around that. Smartphone apps let parents track their children’s activities during the school day and see their progress in class in real-time. For example, many parents use KakaoTalk, the leading messaging app, to have instant dialogue with teachers, like “How did they do on the test today?” Also, on a reporting trip, I visited a high school study hall where the students do homework until 11 p.m. every night. — Elise Hu-Stiles, 16 Surprising Things About Parenting in South Korea
One great thing about raising a family in Rome is that people are so into children. Strangers on the street will go out of their way to be friendly. When Sabina was a baby, I walked past two soldiers very seriously standing at attention guarding some important embassy, and one of the soldiers glanced at her stroller and gasped in a high-pitched voice, “O Dio (oh God)!”, overcome by her sweet, tiny figure. — Molly, 15 Surprising Things About Parenting in Italy
(Top photo of three kids by Rebecca Zeller. Photo of mother and daughter courtesy of Angelina Allen de Melo. Photo of girl running in Kenya by Tara Wambugu; photo of kids in Guatemala by Michelle Acker Perez.)