Cultural parenting – of course! But which cultures?

Parenting styles can vary from family to family. But there are also differences between countries, or should I say cultures. We appreciate different values, which are likely to impact our upbringing of the children. Sometimes they are easily spotted, sometimes they are not. Concept of time for instance is a good example. Coming from a culture where being on time is considered important and a courtesy, I found it annoying at times as a foreign student working in groups with others that were happily an hour late for study meetings. No surprise that we soon found out that Germans and Swedes worked well together!

As always, awareness of the values and set of rules can lead to a better understanding, and less annoyance; tolerance. In the case of time, I simply learnt to agree on another time with the students I knew would be – in my world – an hour late.

Being a parent or not; moving into a new culture you will be exposed to the impact of cultural differences. As a parent a playground is a perfect location for observation and “study”. It´s fascinating that you often can tell from the parents’ responses to their children’s behavior from which country they are. I have encountered societies where one believes that adults should not interfere when children are “playing”. In the beginning I just assumed they did not care; now I hope they care but still want the kids to solve problems on their own. I have also experienced children being constantly corrected and taught. Swedes are normally somewhere in between these two parenting styles; of course, I would like to add with a touch of irony– after all we are the land of “lagom” (just enough) and “mellan” (in the middle).

There are also differences when it comes to physical punishment (illegal in Sweden) and scolding in public. Some people want other parents to know they are dealing with the matter, and some don´t.

Another, always hot, topic is whether it is considered acceptable for a parent to deal with someone else’s child.

I do believe that the culture you are currently living in influences your parenting. It is a way of fitting in, of accepting the hosting society but also grabbing the good stuff!

It is interesting once you start thinking in terms of cultural parenting. What are the cornerstones of your culture/-s when it comes to raising children? Which are the strengths? Have you added anything from your host culture?

Perhaps you are even a slightly different parent in another location! And by that I am not referring to the newly relocated, stressed and culture shocked parent …

2 thoughts on “Cultural parenting – of course! But which cultures?”

  1. All very true! Living in Ibiza for 7 years I found all of the above. Everyone is at least an hour late, especially to kids parties which stresses you out the first time thinking your child has no friends then they all turn up an hour before the end aand stay two hours after it’s finished!! Parents happily tear a strip off their kid in the street and smack bums in public. Not sure of the legal position but no one seems to care anyway! The tachers are all called by their first name and are very tactile with the kids,hugging and kissing the little ones. That’s really sweet. They’d probably be arrested in the UK :(. I think my children, all six, would struggle to fit in in the UK now.

    1. Now that must be a real culture clash not knowing the different perception of inviting hours! Stressful enough to throw kids´ birthday parties 😉 . This is a perfect example of a situation where people can end up feeling hurt and left out when there´s no such intention behind.

      The (increased) ability of detecting differing cultural values and habits is in my opinion a great reward being an expat. You learn to be more open and that there are different attitudes and approaches, not meaning you have to agree with them. Simply thinking out of the box!

      Yes, repatriation can be tough. If you´d like to read my blog post on repatriating click here.
      Schoolsystems and values differ a lot. In Sweden teachers are also called by their first name, but on the other hand, everyone is 🙂 !

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