Why I Love Reading About Parenting Around the World


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A family walks hand in hand on a hike.When I first had children, like most parents, I had no idea what I was doing. It was overwhelming enough to keep a sense of calm with all of the changes that pregnancy brought. After the build up to the “big day,” I felt completely directionless when it came to parenting. I know I’m not alone. 

So I did what a lot of new parents do: I asked my friends or other more seasoned parents for their insight. I read books and blogs and listened to podcasts. Some of it helped but some of it made the overwhelm worse. Baby-led weaning? Spanking? Cosleeping? Positive reinforcement? My head was spinning and honestly, there were a lot of things that just didn’t sit well with me. 

But then, purely for fun, I picked up a copy of a hotly-loved or loathed book, Bringing Up Bebé by Paula Druckerman. I studied French all throughout my schooling and even did a semester in Paris. I loved so many things about French culture and figured the book would be at least entertaining if not slightly educational. Needless to say, I loved the book and it led me on a deep-dive of books about parenting not just in France but around the world. I truly believe I am a better parent for it and here’s why.

I Broaden My Personal Viewpoint

I love reading about parenting around the world for the very obvious and simple fact that it gives me a broader view beyond what I see every day as a parent in North Texas. I think it’s a good reminder that not everyone does things like we do.

It’s so easy to get caught up in whether our kids start sports young enough or are able to say the ABCs by his or her first birthday. Most parents in other countries that I’ve read about don’t seem to care too much about that stuff. It’s given me permission to care less, too.

I Pick Up Helpful Tips

I’ve gleaned so many helpful tips I would not have heard elsewhere by reading about parenting in other parts of the world. For instance, did you know that children in indigenous families in Mexico and Guatemala actually enjoy doing chores and helping around the house? Some believe it’s because it gives children a chance to be close to and spend time with their parents.

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Or that the French have a very systematic way of introducing children to food that doesn’t include chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese?

Or that parents in Scandinavian countries let young children go play in the woods for hours on end (in freezing temperatures, might I add), and don’t hover by the window or back door? Talk about freedom.

Instead of taking what American parenting culture tends to view as fact, “children won’t eat vegetables” or “children will hate chores,” I’ve been able to see it through a different lens, and indeed, with a bit of hope.

A child reads a book with a blanket over his head.It Prepares My Whole Family 

Any time we can learn a little bit about people who aren’t like us can only benefit in the long run. Our family lives in an area with a large population of people from all over the world (it’s why we moved here). The flexibility in our parenting style and exposure to different ideas is not only going to benefit my children once they start school, but it will also benefit my husband and me, too. It’ll prepare our family to get to know others who aren’t like us, whether we are here at home or somewhere else in the world.

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The best part of reading about parenting around the world? It is just plain fun and entertaining. So while I see nothing wrong with reading topical books and articles about parenting, like discipline and development, I’d encourage any parent to explore a different way of parenting by reading about how someone else does it. Who knows what it could lead to — kids asking to do laundry or eat carrots?! One can hope.


If you aren’t sure where to start, here are some books and articles that I’ve read and loved (and a few that are on my to-be-read list). If you have others, please leave them in the comments!


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