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.

Need more?

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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. steph parrell Avatar

    Wow! This post is very well written and put togeather. I love the idea of Finland and how they care for their kids. One of my good friends is Finnish and I admire her knowledge in many areas.

  2. Angelica Avatar

    Love this post! What a different perspective on parenting and so much we can learn

  3. Corsica Nambiar Avatar
    Corsica Nambiar

    This is beautiful!!!! We can learn so much from each other! Wow!! I was really touched by this 🙂

  4. Elise Cohen Ho Avatar

    I adore this post. There are so many things that we can learn from others.

  5. andrea Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this post. I find it fascinating and we could all learn from one another. There are so many schools of thought and it is nice to have them one place

  6. Larissa Avatar

    I absolutely love this post! When it’s time for me to have kids, I’m definitely going to be open to learning from other cultures, and pulling the features that will best suit my family. As a Haitian growing up in the United States, there was a lot of things my friends did not understand about my culture. I’m grateful to have been able to grow up experiencing two cultures, and learning from each.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Culture brings so much richness to life and I’m glad that you were able to experience both

  7. Kanani Avatar

    I love that you touched on how each culture has different things to teach. I’d love to see an even more in depth look at even more cultures!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      That would be an awesome idea for a follow up post thanks for the suggestion.

  8. Liz Avatar

    You are so spot on about learning the best of what other cultures have to offer! Thanks for sharing these insights. There are a few I need to work on over here!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      Thanks for reading and commenting

  9. Chrisry Avatar

    I love all of these! Some beautiful and inspiring parental traditions to inject into our own lives. While independence, respect, and love of nature are important I think I like the song the best! How encouraging for a child as they grow up and to carry that into adulthood.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      That would be cool!!

  10. Shan Avatar

    This is SO interesting to study how other cultures raise their children. Love this so much.

    The How-to guru

  11. Estelle Avatar

    That is so inspiring! I mean, I don’t have any kids now, but if I could raise them with everything in mind, that would be awesome. Also, the schools system in Finland is just brilliant! I’ve seen a documentary about it and I just want to jump in a plane and make them adopt me, hahaha.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I want to send my kids to school there!!

  12. Kate Avatar

    Great post. I lived and worked in Japan for three years and one thing I loved that the children had to do was clean the school themselves-they did not employ a janitor to do the cleaning. The students learned to respect their environment. It was great.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I saw a video about that and loved the idea so much!!

  13. Sharon Avatar

    I love this insight! I must say, my biggest fear is that I will be too controlling and won’t let my children become independent. I need to take some tips from the Finnish!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      It can be a hard balance because we want them to be safe but we want to teach them independence. Each kid and area where you live is so different. We just have to do the best we can

  14. Kim Avatar

    I’ve read many articles about Finland and they have such a superior education system…I wish the US would take their lead:)

  15. Lindsay Shores Avatar

    What a lovely post! I am all about French culture, and I have always admired the way parents there are strict about respect and manners but also expect more independence in their kids. This reminds me of what you wrote about Finland and Asia! So fascinating! xx, Lindsay

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I grew up in France so I experienced the way they raise kids and prefer it to the north American way

  16. Helen Avatar

    Wow! This is beautiful and so interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Lori | Choosing Wisdom Avatar

    I love this! It is wonderful to see what other cultures emphasize in teaching their children. We can learn a lot from each other if we take the time to how these differences help their children to be stronger and brighter and more independent!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      So true! Thanks for reading and commenting

  18. Eric || The Bucket List Project Avatar

    As I was reading this I kept nodding. Though I am not a parent I kept thinking if this is what my parents did for me.
    My parents definitely gave me freedoms…not only to take care of my responsibilities but to also make mistakes. This allowed me to safely learn and grow.
    Though we didn’t live with our grandparents, I was also blessed to know my extended family and to see them as equal with parents.
    As for loving the Outdoors, my parents insisted that I travel even at a young age but also they put me into (and this is KEY) an active Boy Scout troop! We learned all about camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, as well as conservation, responsibility, and respect for the outdoors.
    I do love the African Song thing…I think that will be something I do if I am blessed with a child!

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      That’s so awesome that your parents were able to give you all these things

  19. Bethany | Mama Finds Her Way Avatar

    I love the wisdom we can glean learn learning how other cultures raise their kids. It is definitely giving me insight into my own parenting style and inspiring me to try new things.

  20. Shelby @Fitasamamabear Avatar

    I love this post! It’s so neat to see what we do differently. I think each culture has it’s pro’s and cons for how we raise kids. Love it.

    1. Anne Markey Avatar

      I agree! There are so many pros and cons and area makes a difference, ie: I would love to let my daughter walk to the buss stop alone but our are is very busy with cars and busses so I am waiting until she is older. We can each do our best with what we have around us

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