Thursday, July 9, 2015

Book review for parents in U.S.

     Today I would like you to join me in some kind of book review. Many expat wives face (or will face) the challenge of being pregnant, deliver and grow a baby in a new country. We all grew up noticing and judging our parents, friends' parents and a number of other people, we have all received implicit or explicit parenting tips, inevitably thinking ‘when I finally have a baby I will do it my way’, the smartest way,  ‘I will do this and I won't do that’. Then you become an expatriate wife and all plan or system you were building in your head for years, all knowledge you gathered through all this time now may be impossible to fulfill.
Here in your new home everything seems to be so different starting from maternity leave period finishing educational system.
      We don't have kids yet, but my sister does and many of our cousins do, so it’s almost enough kids for a kindergarten group. Every time we visit, I am trying to save in my mind tips for the future. Everybody dreams to be the perfect parent someday. I am not an exception. Also, during our last vacation trip, it was amazing to spend time with these new little human creatures. I left my used-to-be home with a lot of emotions and experiences and with one very interesting book. My sister gave me a book by Pamela Druckerman "French Children Don't Throw Food". She told me that the book is interesting and she tried to use advises in there. Even though I took it skeptically thinking ‘no way I'm going to read some psychology, mind playing book’, for my own surprise I got stuck into it after reading the first 2 chapters even before boarding our plane to go home to US and I was done with it in a couple of weeks. (I read mostly before going to sleep, so that is a speed of light for me).
You would say ‘Why do we care how French children behave?’ and I would be the first one on your side as I am not very familiar with French culture. But what intrigued me and never let me go till the end of the book, is the fact that Ms. Druckerman is very American and she sees French parenting with an American perspective. She also gives bright examples of American educational tips.
To be honest as we don't have kids yet, I never knew about huge gaps in parenting between different cultures. I mean, it is obvious, but you never think of that. Same as you never care about the best Brazilian steak-houses, if you are a vegetarian. I will be honest, some of the details concerned me. For example, the fact that kids menu in American restaurant (doesn't matter which cuisine it is) always consist of nuggets, kids burgers and other typical American fast-food meals. As I grew up not exposed to this kind of food, I do not desire to eat it on an everyday basis. But I am not sure it is possible to teach a child that there is other food if they are eating nuggets every day. Anyway, some American approaches are widely used also in Russia. I have several friends who are trying to educate kids on their intellectual level from the baby-crib. The author refers to this as the "Einstein" syndrome. 
     All of these new thoughts of course scare me. It is not enough that I need to deal with my own adjustment to US, I also need to figure out the perfect formula for my future kids in order to take the best from the 2 worlds (or 3 worlds depending on the origin of your husband). Anyway, I decided to suggest you to read this book if you are planning to have a kid here in US. The book is stimulating even if you already have children. Interesting and light reading guaranteed.  For your information, I saw in amazon, that Ms. Druckerman updated the book with the addition of ‘100 step-by-step tips’. This newer version is published in 2014.
          So, what about our readers? Do you have kids? Do you have multicultural tips to share with other expat wives and expat mothers?