Whenever I travel, I always enjoy observing and learning from other moms around the world.
In Mali, I learned how to wear my baby in a wrap, in Italy, I learned how to feed a baby three healthy square meals and a snack per day. In the UK, I learned the proper way to bathe a newborn (my son, age 10, was born in London!). So I read Mei-Ling Hopgood’s latest book, How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between) with much delight.
Ms. Hopgood, a mom from suburban Michigan who now lives in Buenos Aires, set out on a journey to learn how different cultures from around the world parent their children, traveling to such far off places as Lebanon and Polynesia. She interviewed moms, dads, anthropologists, educators and child-care experts and even tested out some of her newly discovered parenting techniques on her own two-year-old daughter. She manages to answer some questions that have crossed my mind: How do the Chinese potty train their babies so darn early? and How do French parents manage to get their kids to eat their fine (but not so kid-friendly) cuisine with gusto?
I was particularly struck by the chapter on Argentina, where babies and kids stay up and out much later than their little U.S. counterparts. Research presented in this fun read show that the sleeping spaces and patterns around the world don’t all match our North American standard of getting the kids tucked in bed at an early hour, without a peep, at all costs. It made me see my two-year-old daughter – who happens to be a complete nightowl in a new light: maybe it’s not so bad afterall, that she stay up and sleep in a bit later than the norm. She would certainly have the time of her life in Argentina, where she could hang out at a restaurant with me until the wee hours of the night!
“I learned so much by looking at parenthood from different perspectives,” shares Ms. Hopgood. “It has been reassuring to realize that there are many ways in the world to be a good parent.”