The Global Parent: What's Too Much to Ask?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Mei-Ling Hopgood, author of How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between), joins us weekly in February to talk about the "best practices" of parenting around the world. This week: when it comes to school, work and play, when to push and when to give kids "space."


Mei-Ling Hopgood

Comments [14]

art525 from Park Slope

mick from Manhattan- Believe me my heart goes out to the teachers and what they must have to deal with. And believe me I am on their side. Another thing that my wife and I talk about is that when we were kids if we got in trouble our parents would look at us and say "what did you do?" to us. Nowadays the parents look at the teacher and say "What did you do?" And I am no fan of Bloomberg. He is awful, an arrogant little bully and a craven politician. His flippant remark in response to the poll that showed the public favors the teachers over him when he said that if he bought ads he could win the poll is just one example of that. Vile. But I guess he knows he can buy anything he wants including rescinding the two term limit and buying an election.

Feb. 09 2012 11:25 AM
Tina from Queens

Adam could not have presented it better!
Under average financial conditions (like he said: "we don't need to build 19 room mcmansions")happines is defined by how good your relationships are within the members of the family.
I would guess, those cultures that push their kids to the extreme, is - probably - because education would have taken them out of extreme poverty, towards a more confortable middle class. Which brings us to another socio-historic problem: Once society, as a whole, advances and becomes richer, the new generations get gradually more spoiled, become more lax, more lazy, because they have no good reason ahead to struggle hard for. Their parents did it for them.
What is the answer to this paradox? I don't know.
Maybe, what I call, the British royalty system: Their heirs seem not to be spoiled. They are sent to boarding schools where they are treated like all the other students (albeit, students with parents of means) - nontheless the kids are made to work hard, regardless of their parents money, in those famous British schools.

Feb. 09 2012 11:14 AM
mick from Manhattan

Art25, can you imagine trying to teach a classroom full of the kids of those stroller moms? They may be focused on the end result--the grade--but they have no interest in the work necessary to get it. Please think of this the next time you hear Bloomy, Duncan or their minions bash teachers.

Feb. 09 2012 11:05 AM

Oh dear. My son potty trained himself. One day in diapers, the next day happily peeing in the toilet. I can not claim that I did anything other than let him pee in a public toilet with blue water. He was delighted that his pee turned it green. Also my internally motivated son, received his black belt in Martial Arts when he was 10 years old. When his friends gave up at the brown belt level he wanted to drop out. I asked him whether he was dropping out because of social reasons or because he didn't like Martial Arts any more. Turns out he wanted to take horseback riding lessons for social reasons. Since we couldn't afford horseback riding, he continued Martial Arts. Not really a push, but a nudge. Amazingly, one of the mothers at the Black Belt test felt so entitled that she raised a big fuss about how her son shouldn't have to take the test -- he should just get the black belt. I was very proud of my son for EARNING his black belt. It was much better than any of the trophies he received for just showing up for a sports team. Many ways to parent and come out with a motivated and happy child.

Feb. 09 2012 11:05 AM
mick from Manhattan

I am a retired teacher and while I believe that it is possible to push children too hard, in our society it is necessary to push AND encourage children to work at their studies. When children are young there are physiological limits in brain development that no amount of pushing can overcome. A common example is pushing children to read when they are not physiologically ready. This can only undermine children's ability to succeed. Early morning schedules for adolescents is another example of a physiological limit that is frequently ignored for institutional convenience. But many children from low income families who have little or no history of academic success do not know how to prepare and encourage their children. Children from this kind of background, whether in Appalachia or Harlem, are likely to have problems in school and later life if they don't find a niche where education in not needed.

Feb. 09 2012 10:58 AM
good driving -- so "American" from New Jersey

As pedestrians and as drivers -- PLEASE teach your children the rules of the road! It is based on knowledge, respect, community and common sense -- nothing is more important to the rest of us.

Yet for some reason obeying signs, turn signals and other common courtesies are sneered at as "so American."

Feb. 09 2012 10:58 AM
nyc resident

I grew up in five states b/c of my father's job. My mother had to raise five children almost on her on, again b/c of my father's job. We were never allowed to watch TV. We were told to go outside and play or go read a book. I was raised in the 60s-70s. Not allowing TV in your children's lives is not a new concept.

Feb. 09 2012 10:58 AM from office

Interesting subject in light of the shooting of Graham, by the police. Where was his mother and father while he sold dope on the corner.

Feb. 09 2012 10:57 AM
Wu from New York

I grow up in Taiwan. My mother is a Tiger mother. My big brother is a success in everyway and live in California now. Although my parents are proud of him and my brother a good son, he avoide going back to visit because my parents are stric and unreasonal. My parents succeed in traditional way but lost their children's affection.

Feb. 09 2012 10:55 AM
The Truth from Becky

Creating a new brood of educated children who despise their parents all around the world.

Feb. 09 2012 10:54 AM
brooklynmom78 from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Children do not potty train themselves, teach themselves to do algebra, or clean up their room by themselves (normally). If you have a child who does this, this is the exception rather than the rule. It is the responsibility of a good parent not only to lead by example, but to discipline and have high expectations (within reason, and taking into account the individual characteristics of each child.) This is not cultural for me. My parents did not push me, and I have a lot of anger towards them for that.

Feb. 09 2012 10:53 AM
art525 from Park Slope

There is one word that Park Slope parents don't teach their children-NO. It's impossible to have a nice quiet dinner at any restaurant as the kids run riot through the dining room. ANd parents don't behave any better. It's hard to walk down the streets of Park Slope as the stroller moms walk three abreast and make no effort to accomodate you. My wife and I constantly comment on it and wonder what the world will be like when these kids grow up.

Feb. 09 2012 10:51 AM

Shannon: I've read the actual research papers on SIDS. The attributable risk of SIDS in developed areas such as the US is 36% higher among parents who keep their babies in a separate room than in the same room with their parents. The attributable risk of SIDS is 16% higher when their babies are sleeping on the same surface as when they are on a separate surface. What is not recognized in this is that the risk factors on the same surface are identifiable -- excessive alcohol, narcotics, smoking, use of formula, morbid obesity, and someone other than the parent. In all settings fluffy blankets and soft squishy sleeping surfaces increase the risk. Couches are an increased risk as well. James McKenna wrote an excellent article in the Journal of Pediatrics entitled "Why Babies Should Never Sleep Alone" and it is very well documented (speaking as someone who has had far too many epidemiology classes). I highly recommend reading it.

Feb. 09 2012 10:51 AM
Shannon from UES

Can you ask your guest about sleeping with your babies? I've heard that North America is one of the few places it is a stigma and one of the only places with SIDS

Feb. 09 2012 10:46 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.