The Belfast Telegraph did a quickie review of Planet Parent, a new book by British author Mark Woods. Inspired by how parenting styles and choices differ by culture, Woods created a catalog of various parenting decisions ranging from food, to potty training, to education that vary country-to-country. Some fascinating details include:
While British parents wean babies on safe foods, like mashed banana and pureed vegetables, Inuit parents in the Arctic will happily feed young children whale skin and blubber, or perhaps a delicious dish of chewed caribou’s cud, retrieved from the animal’s stomach.
And although many Western parents wrap youngsters in cotton wool, and insist they don’t take risks, by the age of eight, Paraguayan children can find their way through dense rainforests on their own.
Could it be that these kids are the products of the original free-range movement?
Woods discovered that Chinese children as young as 6 months are in the process of being potty trained, a fact I did not find surprising. When my cousins adopted their Asian daughter at the age of one, she would only go to the bathroom when held over a toilet. The same goes for her Chinese compatriots who, by the age of one, trade out diapers for split-crotch pants allowing for easy toileting access.
The French employ “food diversification” when it comes to eating solids. In what could easily be called a fit of puree madness, anything and everything from vegetables to trout are nearly liquefied and fed to babies. A new food is introduced every 4 days in order to acclimate the child’s taste buds before the picky-eater syndrome surfaces around the age of 2.
What do Americans do differently according to the British author? We’ve given up teaching cursive and now employ the video game Minecraft as an educational tool in elementary schools. Not exactly what you’d call big accomplishments, given our struggle with screen media. While I’m 50/50 on the whale blubber, common in the diet of Inuit babies, I’d rather our kids start trekking through the rainforest than trade their manual dexterity for hitting buttons on a machine.
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