Thursday, June 28, 2012

Parenting American Style

I went to the park with R today in my parents' fairly affluent suburb. The place was full of children, so I got to see American (upper middle class yuppie) parenting in action for the first time since becoming a parent myself (and thus actually having an interest in such things).

It was really interesting due to the contrast with Singapore. One thing that struck me forcefully was how  involved the parents were.

Of course Singaporean parents aren't at all negligent (they are actually too controlling in my view), but they interact with their children very differently. All the American parents sat right next to their children (like in the sand pit with them), even when they were quite old (like 7), and talked to them constantly and continuously, giving advice, directions, commentary and praise. In Singapore the parents mostly just watch their children from a distance unless they are quite small (3 or under) and only speak to them to forbid things. I started worrying I was negligent as I watched R from a distance, scaling the play structure by herself, then pushing herself down the slide and leaping off at the bottom, because all the other parents were following their children around talking to them the whole time.

They were seriously busy. When out with R I always aim to minimize the amount of work I do. My goal is to sit at my leisure drinking coffee (or herbal tea now, I suppose, sob sob) while she does her thing. This isn't always attainable of course (what with safety considerations, stopping quarrels and so on), but it never occurred to me to spend all that time interacting with her. I wrote before about how the descriptions of "American" parenting in Bringing Up Bebe seemed wrong (since then I was apparently a French parent), but maybe I was just ill-informed about actual American parenting (which is rather funny).


  1. I have been so caught up with my German class and didn't get go online recently. But still enjoy reading your posts whenever i am here. Have a wonderful time with your family !
    P.S. I'd love to see R's new toy corner the grandparents set up for her. it must be little heaven from what you'd described ;-)

    1. I promise to post pictures once we are back home!