I am an American citizen, but I was raised in five different countries: the United States, Guatemala, France, Bolivia, and Austria. I lived outside of the United States from when I was seven years old until when I was eighteen years old, which I spent most of my childhood as a Third Culture Kid. After returning to the US for college, I spent another three years outside the United States, and my first child was born in Scotland. We moved back to the United States when Emma was nine months old, but my time living overseas – both as a child and as a new mom – have had a tremendous influence on my approach to parenting, particularly the way I have embraced natural parenting.
How Being a Third Culture Kid (TCK) Taught me to Embrace Natural Parenting
I was introduced to baby wearing when we moved to Guatemala. I was seven years old, and soon my siblings and I were using towels and blankets to strap our baby dolls onto our backs. Seeing children carried so happily in this way both in Guatemala and later in Bolivia was all the encouragement I needed to give baby wearing a try when my first child was born!
Breastfeeding in public is more accepted outside the United States, and this example made nursing my babies so much easier! I was always very subtle about it – my stealth nursing technique became almost problematically good, in that a couple times people tried to take my nursing child out of my arms, not realizing they were nursing – but that had more to do with my own fairly reserved personality (and, probably, US heritage) than anything else. I will always be grateful to women who feed their babies openly, because they are making it easier for all women to take young nursing babies out in public.
Seeing different parenting “cultures” has also impacted the way I parent. I believe that there are many different ways to parent well, and that different parenting styles work better for some parents and children than for others. The common thread I see among parents who I respect and try to model my own parenting after is that, while they are doing the best they can, they understand that they can always do better. They also see their children as doing the best that they can, and work to help their child do even better.
How has your parenting style been affected by the cultures you grew up in, and other cultures you have been exposed to?
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