A Swedish woman contrasts child-raising styles in the United States and Sweden.
Growing up in Sweden, McGurk, who runs the blog Rain or Shine Mamma, spent much of the day outside, regardless of the weather. So when she moved to a small town in the Midwest and had two children of her own, she expected them to be as enthusiastic about the outdoors as she was. Unfortunately, that was not the case. This led her to wonder whether it was just in America where children have little contact with nature or if the Swedes had also turned their backs on the outdoors. When her father became ill, McGurk took her children to Sweden for six months and spent the time examining the differences in child-rearing styles between the U.S. and Sweden and, more generally, Scandinavia. The author expertly combines personal memories of her childhood and that of her children with scientific data and research to show the significant disparities in the way children interact with nature in each country. In Sweden, infants are left to sleep outside, even in cold weather (bundled up), as the fresh air is good for them. Preschoolers and school-age children have multiple recesses per day and are encouraged to engage in sledding, skiing, ice skating, and other activities, many of which are deemed too dangerous in the U.S. Scandinavian children often attend nature schools where they learn to use knives and axes, build fires, identify edible plants, and develop an awareness of their natural surroundings; this fosters a deep desire to protect and preserve these areas. The author effectively shows the many ways American parents can learn from their Scandinavian counterparts, and she provides numerous tips and techniques to help parents incorporate these ideas into their daily lives. The glossary of Scandinavian terms, from hygge to solfattig (“sun poor”), is also helpful.
A fascinating exploration of the importance of the outdoors to childhood development.