4 Things other Cultures Teach us about parenting

There are many things that other cultures can teach us about raising kids. Today, I will share 4 things other cultures teach us about parenting.

Today, I am so excited to once again work with Zara Lewis. She wrote a blog for me a few months ago. It was so well received that when she offered to write another post, I jumped at the chance. I hope you like it.


4 different pictures. One in each corner of the image. They are each pictures of parents with children in them. Between the 4 pictures are the words: 3 things other cultures teach parenting about raising kids. www.onedeterminedlife.com

For the longest time, I based my parenting beliefs mostly on what I experienced in my own home. It felt natural to continue the traditions of what our own society perceives as normal. We were not tempted to resort to unusual ways of other cultures across the globe.

Still, I became curious as I came across many intriguing stories. I decided to make the most of other societies’ parenting methods, adapted to our own living circumstances. Let’s embark on a journey through cultural diversity in raising kids.

3 Things other Cultures Teach us about Parenting

1. The freedom of Finland

The western norm of helicopter parenting assumes that we need to spend every waking moment doing everything for our kids. This includes making meals, preparing snacks, reminding them of homework assignments, setting aside their clean clothes and so on. Yet, in most Scandinavian cultures, parents create an atmosphere in which kids develop a sense of independence and responsibility.

From a very early age, Finnish kids go to school on their own. They make their own meals and do homework without their parents’ pushing or reminding them.  Sounds great right! So, what can we do to help our children do the same?

From an early age, finish children are given hours of independent free play every day. They actually have fewer school hours and more hours to play.

The best way to have independent children to give our kids opportunities to exercise their freedom.

These freedoms can be as easy as:

  • Letting them walk to school alone
  • Allowing children to chose what to wear
  • Letting children experience natural consequences

Independence is something priceless that we can use to teach our kids. Not only will they value their time but it will help them cope with the challenges of growing up. Being more independent will also prepare your children for the future.

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a dad hugging his daughter. There are mountins in the background

2. The respect in Asia

The cultures of Asia differ greatly from what you can find in many other corners of the world. Perhaps the most crucial aspect that makes their parenting different from others is teaching respect towards elders in the family, including parents and grandparents.

Families in Asia often live all together in the same house and take equal part in raising the kids. This dynamic gives the youngsters more than two grownups to look up to and treat with respect.

Most of us don’t live in the same house as our parents. How can we instil this respect for their family and the elderly?

The best way to teach our children to respect the elderly is by spending time as a family with the elderly. We can sit with them and listen to their stories. When we meet elderly people at the store, we can treat them with respect and kindness. Our children learn best by example. If they see us treating our families and elderly people with respect then they are more likely to do the same.

a grandma sitting next to her grandson in the rice field

3. The nature-loving Australia

Living in Australia, I’ve grown to love its many customs and traditions. Most traditions are nature-oriented, and for a good reason. Australia is a land of pristine nature and wildlife. People here have learned to pass on their innate appreciation for all things that are natural, organic and pure to their kids in various forms of behaviour.

They teach their kids gratitude and respect towards all living things by owning and taking care of pets. Parents in Australia teach their children the importance of spending time outside by surrounding by nature. Parents here don’t fear letting their kids play on the ground, and they teach children about their environment through uninstructed play. By creating a strong bond to nature and living things, children treat the earth with greater respect and care.

Some of these things are easy to duplicate in North America. Instead of spending time indoors, we should be spending more time outdoors enjoying nature and the world around us. We can teach our children that they impact the living things around them by teaching them about the life cycle and recycling.

4. The acceptance of Africa

Among so many African traditions regarding raising kids, I’ve come across one that has particular relevance for our modern age. In one African tribe, every child has their own song that is sung to them from conception, for them that is as soon as the mother envisions the baby in her mind and all the way to their death. The entire village learns the song and sings it on every relevant occasion.

Not only do they sing this song often, but they use it in a unique way. When a  child makes a mistake or commits a crime as an adult, the whole tribe sings their song. The tribe gathers together and sings this song to remind them of the unique qualities the child possesses, the good they have done thus far and uses love and acceptance instead of punishment. The community uses this song to honour the child’s identity and teach them kindness and love.

This practice encourages me to use meaningful words to teach identity and responsibility to my kids. Giving our children a sense of self and acceptance may help them live a better life.

a mom working the land with a child attached to her back

Parenthood is a journey with many challenges. As we strive to raise our children based on our own society’s norms, we have yet to learn from other cultures that have a different yet valuable insight into a child’s identity.

Maybe if we manage to blend all of this wonderful wisdom into a collective pool of knowledge, we can give our kids the most valuable guidance this world has to offer. This will help our kids become the best people they can be.

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In the comments below, please share a lesson you have learned about parenting from different cultures.

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73 responses to “4 Things other Cultures Teach us about parenting”

  1. Louann Kristy Avatar

    Wow what a beautiful post. I think I can grab a little of each ♡ we all come from different backgrounds… it’s amazing how different we are all raised.

  2. Mackenzie Avatar

    This was so intriguing to read, especially about Africa. I had no idea! Different cultures can teach us so much.

  3. Kristen Avatar

    Parenting is so different all over the world. There are many things I do not agree with in some places. But, these points are great. We can learn a lot from each other around the world.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      There are for sure some things I would not do that I see from other cultures, but we have so much we can learn from each other

  4. Audrey Avatar

    Interesting read. I definitely agree that it’s good to examine other cultures in order to decide what works and what doesn’t. Then you can decide on how to raise your own family.

  5. Catherine Short Avatar

    Ever since reading Bringing up Bebe I have been fascinated by parenting around the world. It’s healthy to challenge our Western ideals and learn from others.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I have not heard of that book, I should check it out.

  6. Kristal Avatar

    I love learning everything from other cultures.

  7. Nancy at Miles For Family Avatar

    Very interesting! I am working on giving my kids more independence. It’s hard, because that’s not the norm in our area.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I totally agree! It’s not the norm here either! But I think if we all start a bit more and more then we may help make it the norm

  8. Liz Rigby Avatar
    Liz Rigby

    I don’t think I would ever let my kids walk anywhere by themselves in America 😀 But I LOVE that idea of the African song…what a wonderful form of community <3 Interesting and informative post!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I know what you mean! I have a hard time allowing my daughter to do things in her own but I think it’s a balance between teachings independence and safety

  9. Lisa @ NatureImmerse Avatar

    If you haven’t already, update your playlists to include music from around the world and watch international pop music on YouTube with your kids. “As kids become accustomed to musical diversity they adjust naturally to the various sounds, which in turn makes those sounds feel less ‘foreign,’” says Homa Sabet Tavangar, a global-business and education expert and mom of three daughters. She wrote her book, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, as a way for families to incorporate an international outlook into their daily life.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      What a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion

  10. Lacee Avatar

    These are great principles to teach children. I’m a teacher myself so I can definitely appreciate this post.


  11. Davi Avatar

    Very interesting! Love this article. It’s neat to see the values that other cultures find important in parenting. I watched a documentary on a similar topic (I think it was called Babies), and it followed babies first year of life in several different countries.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I saw that! It was so interesting

  12. Breyona Sharpnack Avatar

    I really enjoyed your post! Nature is something I am teaching my kids to love and appreciate. I am so thankful that we live in an area that offers plenty of trails and natural places to visit.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      That is so awesome

  13. Kira Avatar

    Love this idea of adapting parenting traditions from different cultures. One thing I really want to do is travel the world with my daughter so she gets an understanding that there is more than one way to live.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      We live in a very multicultural area in the city we live so I hope by living in close proximity we could do the same. Even though I would want to travel as well

  14. Hannah Avatar

    This is such a beautiful post and so true! Having lived in six other countries, I definitely agree that the style of parenting varies so much and I think we could learn from all of the different cultures. Love this!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      What countries have you lived in??

  15. Annie Avatar

    What a great post. My sisters husband is Vietnamese and it’s so interesting to see the differences in culture.

  16. Beth Avatar

    Yes! Truth!! So good. Thanks for that encouragement.

  17. entirely erika Avatar
    entirely erika

    This post is great! While I do not have children of my own, I am a teacher and wish more parents valued other cultures.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I know there are so many things we can learn from other cultures including education.

  18. Katie Avatar

    I think it is so important to look at other cultures and not just our own. It broadens our thinking and perceptions. These are GREAT things to learn about parenting IMO x

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      We have so much we can learn from each-other

  19. Shannon Morscheck Avatar
    Shannon Morscheck

    WHat a beautiful post! I think I could focus a little more on freedom!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Yes, me too. There are days I think I give my kids so much freedom and then I realize I am a bit more helicopter then I thought.

  20. Jessica Avatar

    Great read! So much to glean from mothers in other cultures! I also loved the book Bringing Up Bebe about mothers in France.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      That sounds like an interesting book, I will look for it. Thank you for the recommendation.

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