‘How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm’ by Mei-Ling Hopgood is a really interesting book. It reads a bit like a textbook, almost – and is quite the eye opener.
In essence, the book covers various cultures and countries and what is perceived as ‘normal’ when bringing up their children. I’m guilty as charged of judging other mums decisions as they’re different to mine and something I wouldn’t necessarily agree with – and this book has made me think a bit. Well, more than a bit.
Actually, there are some really good bits in there which I’m already implementing – trying not to tell H she’s a ‘clever girl’ too often and more a ‘well done’ type of praise, and if she gets frustrated trying to work something out and asks for her, getting her to try one more time and then I’ll help, and already I’m finding she does more for herself. I know I like to think of H as quite an independent child but actually I do help her out with things when I should take a step back.
The great thing about this book is how non-judgemental it is – the author has the way she’s brought up her children – they seem very well-travelled too! There’s also a section on academia and how some countries put education over having fun – as in, find a balance – do fun things with your child to spend time with them rather than more education related activities. I’ve probably put it badly, but I get what she’s saying.
The book starts with them in Buenos Aires where nobody bats an eyelid to see a child out until the early hours, and how accommodating the country is towards babies – and towards the end brings up the case of the Danish actress who left her child outside a restaurant while she dined (which is usual there, I remember vaguely a news article about it) and how people watching were disgusted – this book just brings up many examples of bringing your child up, but from the perspective of someone saying “this is how it’s done here” or “this is what they do” – it’s quite refreshing to read.
I’ve always been a stickler for routine and maybe I need to be a little bit more relaxed about it, and let it sort itself out – especially with a holiday on the horizon too. If H falls asleep at the early evening entertainment, it doesn’t matter (whereas before it might have, and I’d panic).
There are sections on how the French deal with eating, how Kenyans live without pushchairs, how the Chinese potty train early, how Tibetans cherish pregnancy and so much more. I really enjoyed the book, and am glad I had the opportunity to read it – I’d recommend it if you’re interested in seeing how others bring up their children and quite fancy trying out some of the ideas.