Yes, a resounding “yes”! But I’m just a country Mom. What do I know? That’s why this article was so much fun; it confirmed what I already believe and have found proof in living. But now that a “qualified” person finally said it, (you know, someone who did the research–the only thing that makes it real and believable to the masses), I can feel even more confident about our parenting choices.
You’re gonna love it too.
The author, Christine Gross-Loh, writes:
“The parent I used to be and the parent I am now both have the same goal: to raise self-reliant, self-assured, successful children. But 12 years of parenting, over five years of living on and off in Japan, two years of research, investigative trips to Europe and Asia and dozens of interviews with psychologists, child development experts, sociologists, educators, administrators and parents in Japan, Korea, China, Finland, Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere have taught me that though parents around the world have the same goals, American parents like me (despite our very best intentions) have gotten it all backwards.”
(While I may not agree with every aspect of the article, I certainly agreed with the bulk of it.)
Her findings, the short version:
- We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives.
“Ellen Hansen Sandseter, a Norwegian researcher at Queen Maud University in Norway, has found in her research that the relaxed approach to risk-taking and safety actually keeps our children safer by honing their judgment about what they’re capable of.”
- Children can go hungry from time-to-time. (Meaning, you don’t have to rush to give children snacks every time he asks; it could hinder their healthy meal-eating habits. And you certainly don’t need to allow your children a special menu different from what is offered to the whole family.)
“[Korean] children are taught that food is best enjoyed as a shared experience. All children eat the same things that adults do, just like they do in most countries in the world with robust food cultures. (Ever wonder why ethnic restaurants don’t have kids’ menus?). The result? Korean children are incredible eaters. They sit down to tables filled with vegetables of all sorts, broiled fish, meats, spicy pickled cabbage and healthy grains and soups at every meal.” (Korea has the lowest rates of obesity.)
- Instead of keeping children satisfied, we need to fuel their feelings of frustration.
(I didn’t care for the term “fuel their frustration”. I think the point is not to give a child everything he wants to keep him happy–as if this were rocket science.)
“Studies show that children who exhibit self-control and the ability to delay gratification enjoy greater future success.” (Imagine!) “Anecdotally, we know that children who don’t think they’re the center of the universe are a pleasure to be around.”
- Children should spend less time in school. (My personal favorite.)
“The Finnish model of education includes a late start to academics (children do not begin any formal academics until they are 7 years old), frequent breaks for outdoor time, shorter school hours and more variety of classes than in the US.” (Finnish students frequently rate the highest, academically, in the world.)
- Thou shalt spoil thy baby.
According to research, Japanese children, who co-sleep with their parents, become more independent later in life. (This is probably one I don’t necessarily disagree with, but personally haven’t implemented simply because I enjoy MY sleep in my bed with my husband . In the early nursing months, baby does sleep some with me and I don’t sleep well at all.)
- Children need to feel obligated.
“In America, as our kids become adolescents, we believe it’s time to start letting them go and giving them their freedom. We want to help them be out in the world more and we don’t want to burden them with family responsibilities. In China, parents do the opposite: the older children get, the more parents remind them of their obligations.
Eva Pomerantz of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign has found through multiple studies that in China, the cultural ideal of not letting adolescents go but of reminding them of their responsibility to the family and the expectation that their hard work in school is one way to pay back a little for all they have received, helps their motivation and their achievement.
Even more surprising: She’s found that the same holds for Western students here in the US: adolescents who feel responsible to their families tend to do better in school.”
Read all of “Have Americans Got it All Backwards?”
The last point was especially good, and the one MOST OFTEN ridiculed in our culture. So many parents have the crazy idea that it’s good for their children to be released of any familial obligation, and that it’s nearly abuse to require them to do their part in the responsibilities of the family. We give them their vehicles, gadgets, college money, let them roam free, and create entitlement monsters. And we’re surprised when their own family falls apart?
Hope this dose of good, common sense will take root and help us raise healthier, smarter, more stable adults for the next generation.