Motherhood Olympics: Is Parenting the New International Competition?

Should This Be Your New Baby Bible?

As we wind down from the rush of the 2012 summer Olympics, we can now get back to that other arena of international competition, motherhood. Is it just me, or did the release of Amy Chua’s 2011 book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, take the already competitive field of motherhood to a whole new, international level?

I mean, first the competition was pretty much a domestic affair. In this corner, we had the virtuous Stay-At-Home Mothers (SAHM) fighting valiantly for the title of Better Mother against the plucky Working Moms. But then, enter the Tiger Mother. Not only did Chua raise the bar on what mothers could achieve if they stopped thinking being nice was a requirement for the job, but she introduced the concept that the best mothers might not even be American. *gasp*

And it was on.

French mothers raise better eaters. African mothers raise babies who don’t cry. And according to yesterday’s New York Times, the best mothers, may be *gulp* fathers! One clever journalist, Mei-Ling Hopgood, decided she could be a better mother by hand-selecting the best practices of mothers from around the globe. The result of her research and parenting-by-country efforts is the book, How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in Between). The book is actually quite fascinating and if nothing else, provides some great perspective on what we consider acceptable or standard practice in parenting.

But should we parent based on what works in other countries and cultures? And more importantly, should we be even thinking about motherhood as an international competition? I admit, I tried to be a Tiger mom but I couldn’t hack it. It was too hard. And besides, it didn’t feel like me. But I do understand wanting to do what’s best for your children and if something works in another country, there’s nothing wrong with giving it a try. For example, apparently the Chinese potty train much earlier than we commonly do in the United States. My boys were in diapers until age three. If babygirl could be thinking panties instead of Pampers before three, I’d be super okay with that.

So, no, I’ll never be a Tiger Mom, but maybe a Meltingpot Mom? Yeah, that works for me.

What do you think, dear readers? Is there any harm in glorifying parenting methods in other countries? Do you think one country or culture produces the best mothers? Do you utilize a parenting technique that you ‘borrowed’ from another culture? Let’s hear about it.

I’m listening.


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2 Thoughts to “Motherhood Olympics: Is Parenting the New International Competition?”

  1. Cyretha

    First let me say that I am not a mother and will never be one (past the sale by date). However, if you find a parenting method from another country and think it will work for you, then why not? A funny example, not one that I would recommend, but just want to share it: Russian mothers place their babies outside for their naps. Now while it can get very hot in Moscow, I am not just talking about the summer months. When I saw a friend of mine place her son’s stroller outside for his knap in winter, I was certainly surprised. We were not in Russia, but she told me that is what they did all the time. I don’t care how many duvets are in the stroller, I can’t imagine placing a baby outside in below 0°F, but that is what happens in Russia.

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      That is hilarious. I remember when a woman did that in NYC — left her baby outside while she dined at a cafe — and was arrested and caused a major controversy. She said that’s how they did things in Denmark. Thanks for sharing and welcome to the new Meltingpot.

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