The way a culture cares for new families looks different depending on where you are in the world—and there’s a lot we can learn from each country’s unique traditions.
DOING IT RIGHT
4 things that make us want to give America a high-five.
The more prenatal checkups you have, the better your odds of having a healthy baby—because doc can make sure things are on track and spot trouble early on. Most U.S. women will have about 15 prenatal visits, but in many developing countries, getting just one can be difficult. The World Health Organization calls four a victory.
Free to feed
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (If you’re wondering, the state missing from the list is Idaho.)
Do it your way
From attachment to authoritative, there are dozens of “parenting styles.” Americans believe there’s more than one way to raise a child, so you can experiment until you find what works for you and your brood. Compare that to Norway where childhood is highly institutionalized and all kiddos are brought up in much the same manner.
Save or spend
Babies may be expensive, but the U.S. comes in at No. 6 on the Gallup Poll’s list of countries with the highest household income. The average annual income in the U.S. is $43,585—more than four times the worldwide median of $9,733.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
4 lessons we could learn from our neighbors.
Out of office
The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee workers paid time off to take care of a newborn babe. In other words, maternity leave isn’t mandatory.
Too cool for school
Many other countries provide universal preschool with the guarantee that every tot gets a spot. In France, 100 percent of 3-year-olds are enrolled in Pre-K; in Sweden, 90 percent are. Here, we lag behind at 51 percent.
Stereotypical gender roles are still going strong in the U.S. (just look at how few papas get paternity leave), but for Aka families in central Africa, men’s and women’s roles are practically interchangeable. They wouldn’t think twice if mom were hunting while dad watched the kids. (Believe it or not, some men even suckle their children.)
All together now
Some countries treat children like mini adults, which means they stay up with the rest of their families to socialize in Spain and they eat what the grown-ups eat in France. Just imagine: No vegetable negotiations at the dinner table!