How They Do It: An Overview of Child Rearing around the World
It’s a Small World
All the signs were there—the pitter-patter of little feet, high-pitched voices rising and quickly escalating into yells: “I had it first, it’s mine!” “No mine!” as the kids pulled simultaneously at the same toy.
I dashed into the battle zone before the yanked-on object became each others’ hair, hoping to worm the combatants to a truce. Too late. My husband had grabbed the coveted toy and within minutes both culprits were stalking off to their respective time-out spots. In separate rooms, of course. Quietly, I backed out for the mandated one-minute-per-age-of-life wait.
Only a few years earlier, that same scene would have been followed by a tangle between my California-born husband and me, his Egyptian-born and bred wife. “You’re too strict!” would have been countered with “You’re too lenient!” He’d use time-outs, I’d scold and teach while our cute little guinea pigs—whose passion it was to watch the fun and seek cracks in Mom and Dad’s armor—ran circles around us. Heaven knows it’s taken us years to come to our own truces!
Somewhere between the philanthropic images of loving parents showing their child how to cope with the outside world and the specter of fearful images invoked by the proverb “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” lie varying discipline interpretations for most of the cultures of the world.
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