Parenting and Culture

18 Aug

I am lucky to have met so many amazing people through my work, my travel and my life.  I have been exposed to many different cultures and for me it is always interesting to view culture from a parenting perspective.

As a young and inexperienced Mum I had a second child who was like a little koala – he liked to be permanently attached to me – nipple, back, lap – it didn’t matter.  I was constantly told he would be “spoilt” and that he “needed to learn that he can’t be carried around all the time”.  I think he was about 3 months old at the time!  Instinctively I knew that this was a high need, proximity seeking baby and it didn’t fit for me to be trying to “detach” him.  Also from a practical perspective, if he would sleep happily in a sling 2 hours whilst I did something productive, we were all happy.  I was a young parent, I had no theoretical or philosophical stance on attachment parenting, but my instincts told me to keep my baby close, that this is what he needed, that in time this issue would resolve and that I wouldn’t be carrying him around in a baby sling when he was fifteen.  I didn’t know then but understand now this is known as baby carrying.

My personal experience also made me think about how in western culture our inclination is to physically distance our children.  Increasingly we see babies in slings or baby carriers but our tendency is to place babies on bouncers, in jolly jumpers, a stroller, their own bed – co-sleeping is very controversial l I know and that’s something for another time.  But we have wind up, pull down things to entertain them so that we can “get on with things”.  However, in other countries I have visited such as India, South America, Thailand etc women work happily for extended periods with babies on their back or on their nipple!  One might argue, yes that’s only because they don’t have access to first world conveniences but is it something more culturally defined than that?