A close examination of parenting practices across the globe.
At some point, all parents wonder if they are raising their children the “right” way. In this well-researched analysis of parenting tactics, the LeVines (co-authors: Literacy and Mothering: How Women's Schooling Changes the Lives of the World's Children, 2012, etc.) compare and contrast how parents from different cultures and ethnic groups—from Japan and China to Kenya and Central America—take care of their children. The authors studied the way women are treated in various cultures and discovered that differences are evident from the first moments of pregnancy. For instance, members of the Gusii tribe in Kenya believe it is wrong to announce the pregnancy, as it might draw ill will from the other women in the tribe. Compare that to the attitude in the United States, where the possibility of a child is usually announced as soon as possible. Hindus and Buddhists in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal believe menstruation and birth are sources of pollution and take actions to prevent the contamination of others, while fathers in Central and South America are present throughout the entire pregnancy and birth. Once the child is born, breast-feeding is the norm, but there are vast differences in sleep habits and regarding how to talk to the infant or show signs of affection. The authors also examine a child’s access to toys, interactions with his siblings, the possibility of going to school and/or having chores or work to do, and the role each parent plays in the child’s early development. Overall, as many parents have grown to understand, the research shows that there is no one “right” way to parent, as every culture has its own traditions, but readers will learn helpful ideas from other countries, picking and choosing those that make the most sense for their individual situations.
An intriguing assessment of the effectiveness of a variety of global parenting customs.