Sometimes you read a parenting book and think it’s almost as painful as sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office and sometimes you read How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting Around the World by Mei-Ling Hopgood and close the book and think, Wow! Who knew!
How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm is thick with anecdotes about parenting, but with a unique twist…it takes parenting from all around the globe!
When I learned about the author, Mei-Ling Hopgod, being a first time mom from suburban Michigan, transplanted to Buenos Aires, I thought, “Ha! I bet I can teach her a thing or two!” Turns out she’s one savvy momma!
It all started with the move to Buenos Aires, where Argentine parents allow their children to stay up all hours of the night. Curious, Hopgod, put her new mother desparation to use and sought answers. She wanted to know how other cultures approach the typical challenges every parent faces: potty training, bedtime, feeding teaching and so much more.
As I read I was floored, remembering my own experience with two of my children and potty training. I was certain I’d be sending them off to college with their porta-potty. Turns out, the Chinese excel at potty training. They teach their children as young as six months old! I’m not kidding! I’d like to say I felt like a failure after reading that, but in the end, I’m just thankful we survived and everyone’s accounted for when it comes to potty time!
Strollers seem so common here. Sure there’s the baby carriers, but I’m not sure I would go as far as to say they replace our strollers. Kenyans wear their babies in colorful cloth slings. It’s a part of their cultural heritage…it also seems a far better alternative than a stroller on a Nairobi sidewalk!
Ever had a picky eater? I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve seen this frustration plenty of times. Guess who are experts at turning kiddos into healthy and adventurous eaters? The French! That’s right, there’s no Kiddie Menu in France. Can you imagine if your daycare’s menu was roasted chicken, fresh green beans, potatoes, brie, baguette and for dessert, fresh fruit? Or how about a two hour lunch, where your child is encouraged to return home and eat with you. Perhaps it is the birthday celebration that has The Divine Miss M so in love with France…the children are invited to bake their birthday cake with the school’s chef!
Each chapter focuses on a topic that parents lose sleep over. I love Hopgod’s inclusion of her own experiences raising a spirited toddler and think the humor she showcases is excellent! From here, the reader explores methodologies and philosophies implemented in other parts of the world, all of which she finds can be applied into her own parenting, with some modifications!
While my husband is a helicopter parent…it drives even ME bonkers, I realize I take more the Japanese approach. They practice nonintervention even in the school, allowing kiddos to mix it up and find the solution themselves. I’ve long believed that when parents step in it dissolves a relationship among the adults, while the children make up and return to being friends. I feel my role as a mother is to teach my children about the reality of life and let’s face it, they’re going to encounter disruptive, rude, annoying and socially inept individuals. Allowing them to discover how to deal with this gives them a head start on having tolerance.
My husband was thankful our family was complete when I shared the pygmies, who are perhaps the most attentive fathers in the world, let their babies suckle on their nipples sometimes to calm them when their moms aren’t around. My husband wasn’t even open to the idea!
It was really interesting to visit other cultures and see how different we all parent, and yet how similar it all is in the end.