I’ll admit it, I am addicted to reading parenting books. It’s this weird thing – I don’t really feel like parenting a lot of the time, but I sure do like to read about ways to improve what I don’t feel like doing!
As much as I love them, sometimes reading too many of these books can get a little confusing. Whose voice is in your head when you’re deciding whether you want to, say, reduce screen time? Or become a free-range parent? Did the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that, or some random from a FB group? Or did one of my books tell me this was a good idea? Who knows, and who has time to figure it all out anyway.
Some of the books really are great though. I especially like the ones that talk about parenting in different cultures and how different the norms are from here in the United States.
It’s fascinating to me.
Like, can French people really get their kids to eat dinner? And if so, why can’t I get mine to eat dinner? I really really want to know. “Bringing Up Bebe” tells me matter of factly that it’s possible and I believe it.
It’s interesting to think that it might be user error, and not that I have a defective model of child after all. I’m not sure which is worse, user error on my part, or having defective model kids.
And if someone in France were raising my same kid, would he be eating vegetables? I think he would! But there’s no way to tell, because there’s no scenario where I’m about to sell my children to a French person.
But what if I decide to sell them to a Scandinavian?
With my kindergartner (who absolutely hates being cold and has obviously not read the excellent parenting book “There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather“) – If he was raised by a Scandinavian mom would he be rolling around in piles of slush, embracing the fact that mother nature has never given us poor weather, we just don’t always have the proper clothes to enjoy it?
Actually the other day I told my son that there was no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. He looked at me like I was a total idiot. “Mom there is bad weather out right now. Today is really bad weather.”
And I looked out my window and I was like “Yeah today does really suck. Today actually is bad weather.”
See the thing is I’m not Scandinavian. I’m an American mom. And my ancestors aren’t Scandinavian either, they’re Armenian and Irish.
And I’m pretty sure Armenians and Irishmen both believe in bad weather, on account of the fact their countries have tons of it.
So it’s probably just in our DNA. I’ll never be French and get my kids to eat brussel sprouts. And I’ll never be Scandinavian and get them to play outside when it’s freezing cold.
Which reminds me – do you know that in Scandinavian countries they have their babies nap outside even in the freezing cold weather? Can you even believe that?!! That would never fly in the US, everyone would be suing everyone before the first baby got frostbite.
There’s a story about a couple from Scandinavia who came to visit the United States. They went in for a nice dinner at a restaurant, leaving their baby outside in the stroller in the freezing cold weather to take a nap. They could see the baby through the window and they were totally cool with that. I think it was in New York City or something. How awesome is that kind of culture!
I mean they got in a ton of trouble, I think social services was called right away. They were confused, though, because in their native country this practice is common. They’re like “what’s the big deal?”
Here in America we’re like, “Guys you can’t leave your baby out on the sidewalk. Do you know where you are? Everyone gets kidnapped here constantly.” (Actually most people don’t get kidnapped here. Hardly anyone ever gets kidnapped here. We just like to think it happens all the time, which is why we don’t want our kids playing on the streets). We would rather they stay where we can see them and get 10x more than the recommended amount of screen time.
Also it’s freezing cold outside, and it’s frowned upon here to let small children nap in the freezing cold streets of Manhattan. I’m not sure why.
But I’ll probably keep reading these books that tell me that in another culture things go better. Or at least that there’s another way. It sparks my imagination, and also my notion that if I could just tweak a few things, I could achieve the vision that I like to have for my family.
A family where we sit down to happy meals (but not “Happy Meals”) consisting of wholesome foods, and then go outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Nobody has tantrums, nobody wants McDonald’s, and nobody’s screaming that they’re too cold when it’s 45° out and kind of sunny.
That’s what I imagine may be possible. It’s never actually been possible in my own family. But maybe it is in yours. Especially if you happen to be a Scandinavian who married a French person.
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