Around the World in Eight Parenting Styles

Blog, Family

If you know me, then you know I love learning about other cultures and their unique styles. As a parent of an immigrant Chinese mother, and 7th generation white midwestern father, it was interesting navigating the cultures you didn’t really know, but were in front of you at the same time. As I navigate parenting myself, and entering the deep teenage years, I’m constantly reaching out to friends for their experiences and trying to learn and understand how to do better.

So why not dive into the different parenting styles of different countries to see what I can learn, and possibly integrate, to create the parenting style that works for our family.

Parenting is as diverse as the world we live in, with each culture bringing its unique perspective to child-rearing practices. From the disciplined approach in East Asia to the more relaxed Scandinavian methods, parenting styles can vary dramatically from one country to another. In this post, we’ll embark on a global journey exploring eight different parenting styles and uncover what we can learn from them.

Disclaimer: I am not a parenting expert, nor do I expect that the information listed here is exhaustive or totally correct. Just some things that I’ve learned that might encourage a deeper dive if something speaks to you.

1. The Authoritative Approach of France

French parenting is often characterized by an authoritative style, which strikes a balance between discipline and freedom. French parents are known for their firm boundaries, particularly when it comes to mealtimes and manners. Children are expected to join adult meals, eat what’s given, and engage in conversation. This approach teaches children patience, appreciation for food, and social skills. Yet within these boundaries, French children are given considerable autonomy to explore and play, fostering independence and confidence.

2. The Collective Wisdom of African Communities

In many African cultures, the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” is taken to heart. Child-rearing is a communal effort, with extended family and neighbors all playing a role in the upbringing of children. This collective parenting style emphasizes the importance of community, respect for elders, and a strong sense of belonging. Children learn from a wide array of adult figures and peers, gaining a rich tapestry of knowledge and experience.

3. The Academic Rigor of South Korea

South Korean parents place a high value on education and academic success. The parenting style here leans towards being more authoritarian, with a strong emphasis on structured learning and achievement. After-school tutoring and study sessions are common, reflecting the societal expectation for children to excel academically. While this approach has led to high educational attainment rates, it also brings challenges such as stress and reduced playtime for children.

4. The Laid-Back Approach of Australia

Aussie parents tend to embody a more laid-back parenting style, with a focus on outdoor activities and allowing children to take risks and be independent. There’s a strong belief in the benefits of outdoor play for a child’s physical and mental development. Australian parenting encourages problem-solving and resilience, as children navigate both social interactions and the natural world around them.

5. The Respectful Upbringing of Japan

Japanese parenting is deeply rooted in the concepts of respect, self-discipline, and community harmony. From a young age, Japanese children are taught to be mindful of others, leading to a society that values order and cooperation. Parents use positive reinforcement rather than punishment to guide behavior, and there is less direct supervision, encouraging children to become self-reliant and responsible members of society.

6. The Freedom of Scandinavian Countries

Scandinavian countries, such as Sweden and Norway, are renowned for their permissive parenting style, which is characterized by an emphasis on children’s rights and equality. Parents encourage their children to express their opinions and make decisions, fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding. This approach also extends to generous parental leave policies and state-supported childcare systems, which reflect the societal support for a healthy work-life balance and family life.

7. The Familial Piety of China

In Chinese culture, the concept of familial piety and respect for one’s elders is paramount. Chinese parents often adopt a more authoritarian style, with a focus on obedience and academic performance. However, this is balanced with a deep-seated devotion to family and the expectation that children will care for their parents in old age. This intergenerational bond creates a strong family structure where tradition and honor play significant roles.

8. The Attachment Style of Indigenous Cultures

Many indigenous cultures around the world practice attachment parenting, a style that emphasizes physical closeness and responsiveness to a child’s needs. Practices such as co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, and constant physical contact are common. This approach fosters a secure attachment between parent and child, building a foundation of trust and emotional well-being.

What Can We Learn from These Diverse Parenting Styles?

In conclusion, as we travel through the parenting landscapes of different cultures, we find that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to raising children. Each style reflects the values, beliefs, and circumstances of the society from which it originates. By understanding and appreciating these diverse parenting practices, we can broaden our perspectives and perhaps incorporate some of these global wisdoms into our own parenting repertoire. After all, the goal of parenting, regardless of style or culture, is to raise happy, healthy, and well-adjusted children who are prepared to thrive in an ever-changing world.