Parenting is hard work no matter what part of the world you live in. However, a host of new books and experts tell us that each international style can help support and inform our own personal parenting style. Along with different cultures come different ideas and perspectives on what works best. … You might be surprised to find that certain ideas can be useful to borrow or even adapt to fit your own style.
French: Entente Cordiale
From their eating habits to their joie de vivre, the French have parenting all wrapped up. In her book, “French Children Don’t Throw Food”, Pamela Druckerman, an American expat raising her three children in Paris, describes her observations of French parenting. Much as we hate to admit it, those chic French have a few good ideas:
- French parents don’t discipline, they educate:
Instead of ‘disciplining‘ their children, the French instead work to ‘educate’ them. The French help their children mature by treating them as ‘little adults’ and approaching tough situations as growth opportunities rather than shouting matches.
- French children are expected to entertain themselves:
French parents feel that, while their children are the main priority, having ‘adult time’ should be a priority as well. Of course, it’s important to spend time with your children, but teaching them to be creative and find something to do while you’re busy will help encourage them to be self-sufficient and respectful of your time.
- French children are expected to wait patiently:
Children are trained from an early age to have self control. Children are not allowed to interrupt others, are expected to behave in restaurants and to wait for their designated snack time to eat that ‘bonbon’ that Mum bought earlier in the day. This teaches the child that not everything is immediate.
The Chinese are viewed as disciplined, high-achievers – could this have something to do with their parenting style? Amy Chua sheds some light on the tactics she uses in her book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. Although some of her techniques can be viewed as controversial, who knows some of the concepts might be useful when little Johnny is shirking piano practice …!
- Chinese parents demand respect:
Chinese parents believe their children are obliged to repay them for all of the long hours spent tutoring and training them to be successful adults. Children are expected to obey their parents and do whatever it takes to make them proud … so look forward to getting your childcare bills repaid when the children are growing up (well, we can wish a little here can’t we?).
- Chinese children are not allowed to give up:
The Chinese fully endorse the concept of ‘practice makes perfect’. By encouraging your children to try their best and put all of their energy into their activities they will be able to feel the extreme joy that comes from succeeding at something challenging. Setting goals together can be a wonderful way of achieving something that you did not initially expect to, and the mutual encouragement can be helpful to all the family, be it having a healthier lifestyle or learning a musical instrument together.
- Chinese children are not allowed to fail:
Academic achievement is highly valued in the Chinese culture. As a result of this, parents have high expectations for their children to get perfect grades and will reproach them for anything less. It’s important to set goals for your children so that they are ambitious and seek to challenge themselves. Once again, try to set an academic challenge that you can all try together.
British: Practically Perfect in Every Way…
In the UK we are known for our perfect nannies, namely Mary Poppins and Super Nanny. Although these examples are very stereotypical, they do reflect some of the values that parents in the UK try to instil in their children.
- British parents rationalise with their children:
Parents in the UK find it important to consider their child’s feelings and opinions when dealing with a tough situation. They feel it best to explain to the child what went wrong and why it was unacceptable behaviour. In this way the child is incorporated in the problem solving and parents are able to teach their children about compromise and negotiation.
- British children express themselves:
Children are encouraged to be imaginative and true to their inner selves. Parents work to maintain open communication with their children and to create a positive environment for growth.
- British children are polite:
Children in the UK are expected to be well-mannered, behaved and are urged to do well academically. This combination of conservative and liberal techniques aims to produce well-adjusted children.
In the end, all parents, no matter what their cultural backgrounds, want their children to be happy, healthy and successful. It’s just a matter of how those conditions are defined and measured that sets people apart.