Most of us think that the things we're used to doing on a regular basis are completely normal. And if our parents also did these things, then we're completely sure that we should keep on doing them, too.
This is how national traditions appear. For example, parents raise their kids in a certain way, influenced by their surroundings, as well as their culture, and when their kids grow up and have their own children, they tend to raise them in the same way. Besides, if new traditions appear and people see that everyone is following them, they also follow them.
It all continues happening in this habitual way, until we visit another country and see that their traditions are *completely* different. We learn that in Russia they never celebrate baby showers. In Denmark, they leave their kids in strollers outside to have a nap. In Spain, they have dinner at about 9 p.m., and in Romania, they ask kids to do household chores every day.
But the most interesting thing is, if our traditions differ from others, we're not the only ones who consider these traditions weird. Foreigners also think that our practices are super-strange!
So let's see what common parenting practices in the United States are considered bizarre in Europe and, perhaps, look at ourselves from another point of view.
20 Arranging Baby Showers
Baby showers are a very popular tradition in the United States. Very rarely, a pregnant woman goes without having her friends arrange one for her. It's considered very important for moms-to-be in the USA to prepare for childbirth and have everything she needs for a newborn. And, of course, it's very nice to get most of these things as gifts from friends!
But in Europe, there's no such tradition. In fact, people in Russia, for example, assume that it's bad luck to celebrate a baby before they're born. In Britain, parents also prefer to head to the pub with their friends to celebrate and "wet the baby's head" only after they give birth to their child.
19 Working Right After The Baby's Born
Did you know that the United States is one of the few countries in the UN that doesn't require employers to give parental leaves to their employees? This is exactly the reason why moms in America commonly get back to work pretty quickly after childbirth. They only take some time to recover and – bam! – they're back at the office!
But in Europe the situation is different. For example, in Belgium, moms can get a parental leave that'll last for up to four months, while in Austria, they don't have to go back into the office until their child is 2 years old. Interestingly, in Austria moms and dads even get a bonus from the government, if they take turns staying at home with their child.
18 Dads Don't Have Parental Leave
Speaking of dads, they also don't always get parental leave in the United States. It's obvious that they don't, since even moms aren't supposed to get it.
But again, people living in Europe are much luckier in this case. At least dads are. In Sweden, new dads can have 90 days of parental leave and keep 80% of their normal salary. In Finland, fathers may take a leave for 8 weeks, and in Estonia they can take a break from work during the final 2 months before their partner's due date.
Is it only me, or do you also feel sorry for dads in America now?
17 Buying Disposable Diapers
In the United States, using disposable diapers is the usual practice. Most parents buy them on a regular basis, and when they're soiled, what do they do? Right, they throw them away.
People from other parts of the world, like Europe, don't really support this practice, especially these days, when we are starting to understand how much waste humanity generates. If we keep on doing the same thing, we might get into serious trouble.
So reduce the plastic waste and stop using disposable diapers! What to use instead, you ask? Well, there're reusable diapers and you can also follow the example of mothers from other countries. Their babies don't wear diapers at all and, when they demonstrate signs that they need to go, moms just hold them over the toilet.
16 Early Bedtime Is A Must
Parents in the US prefer to put their children to sleep early. They do it for two reasons. First, they're sure that their kids need more sleep. And second, they want to have some alone time to watch a movie or have a romantic dinner.
However, this practice isn't so typical in other countries. For example, in Spain parents focus on interpersonal and social development of their children, so they tend to spend evenings with their kids and do all activities with them, thus letting them stay up till 10 pm or more. Meanwhile, in France, parents don't send their kids to the bedroom until kids actually want to sleep.
15 Huge Portions Of Food
People in America love to eat. The entire world knows this fact. But it doesn't mean that the entire world understands this attitude to food, especially when it comes to feeding snacks and super-sized meals to kids.
Here's what Lee Jensen, a mom who moved from Denmark to New York tells about it: "I had never seen cereal eaten dry as a snack before going to [U.S.] playgrounds. But Cheerios seem to be a big hit with kids in America. Also I had never seen such colorful snack containers and sippy cups. In Denmark, a kid’s snack would be a slice of rye bread with cheese wrapped in tinfoil or an apple straight up."
14 Over-depending On Meds
Parents in America usually trust their pediatrician and if their kids are prescribed certain medications, they commonly purchase and give these meds to them without having any second thoughts. Besides, in the United States people seem to have meds for any condition, even for those that don't really require medications and can be treated in other ways.
But in other countries, it's not the case. For instance, parents in the United Kingdom (and some other countries in Europe) are 10 times less likely to be prescribed meds for ADD and ADHD and they don't give meds to their children so often overall.
13 Using Rear-Facing Car Seats
According to the advice published by the US Academy of Pediatrics in 2018, parents should use rear-facing car seats for their kids until the time they reach the size limit for this seat. Due to these guidelines, babies in the United States face the rear until they turn 2 years old, on average.
However, the car-seat related practice isn't similar in other countries of the world. For example, in Croatia and in Morocco, babies have to sit in the back of the car until they are 12 years old. What's more, they need to sit in booster seats, even in the back.
12 Kids Only Nap Inside
What parent in America would leave their child outdoors and let them take a nap there, while they'd be having a nice time at a cafe nearby? Sounds too crazy to be true, right?
Not if you're living in some countries. Right, parents in Denmark and other places in Northern Europe feel perfectly fine about leaving the stroller with their child outside, while having lunch or going shopping. They do it even in freezing temperatures because they think that napping at the fresh air makes them healthier. And they certainly don't understand why kids in America always nap inside.
Now imagine a parent in the US following this practice. It would be a catastrophe and parental services would be notified!
11 Throw Huge Birthday Parties
It seems that in the United States a birthday isn't even a birthday if there is no party. It's especially true when it comes to celebrating a child's birthday. Above all else, it's about the first birthday of this child. Many parents are ready to spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to arrange this event.
In other parts of the world, parents don't go overboard with making birthday parties for their kids. For example, in Denmark, simpler and more laid-back parties are the norm. "I think most families try to have them at home," a mom from this country shares. "Often it's for a birthday cake or a treasure hunt or something like that."
10 Trick Or Treat
Trick-or-treating on Halloween is common both in the United States and in Europe. However, the way it's done is rather different. While in the USA all kids do is dress up, knock into the door and say "Trick or treat!" kids in Europe are required to do something else to, kind of, deserve the treat.
For example, to get the candy, kids in Germany have to carry a lantern with them and sing a song, while in Finland they also create crafts (that are believed to drive away bad spirits from the house) and give them in exchange for sweets.
Isn't it a much nicer tradition that encourages a child to be creative to get what they want?
9 Shopping Habits
Parents in America usually have the tradition to go to the grocery store only once a week to buy everything they will need to cook for their entire family. It makes sense in this country because most families in the United States live about 30 to 60 minutes on the highway from the nearest supermarket. Who wants to go that far every day?
In Europe, there is no such problem, so they don't have to make these huge grocery store trips. They can buy all kinds of food any time they need because they usually have shops and farmer markets near their houses. Going there, they may buy fresh produce almost daily.
8 Taking Kids Out To Eat
For people in America, it's completely normal to go out to eat with the family on a regular basis. It's been estimated that on average they spend about $3,000 per year to have dinner at a restaurant.
In other parts of the world, it's different. According to the report published by The Washington Post in 2017, 36% of people eat out 1 to 3 times per month, while 42% do it less often than once a month or don't dine out at all. Meanwhile, 16% of folks in the U.S. go out to eat 3 to 6 times a week and 13% do it once or twice a week.
7 Let's Talk Dinner
The usual dinner time for families in the United States is 6 p.m. It's probably related to the fact that parents in America tend to put their kids to sleep early (we've talked about it in one of the previous entries) and, thus, they need to eat early. And then, this habit just lives one and prospers.
But for parents in Europe (especially in Germany, France, and Italy), the concept of having dinner before 7:30 is kind of bizarre. And in Spain, for example, they don't start meals before 9 p.m. Even restaurants there don't open for dinner before 8 p.m. and they do it for the families with little kids, who usually have dinner slightly earlier.
6 Obsess Over Teeth
White straight teeth are so important for people in the US that many of them make dental care a priority for their kids. Some parents are even ready to spend thousands of dollars on visiting an orthodontist office and at times they do it even before their kids even have adult teeth.
Other parts of the world don't support this kind of obsession (even though it's motivated by the desire to have healthy teeth). For example, children in Britain can even get free braces from the National Health Service, if they need them. But the thing is, few parents actually want them for their kids.
Imagine giving free braces in the U.S. Parents would line up to get them!
5 Letting The Kid Stay Uninvolved In Chores
Is it okay to have your kids help you with the household chores on a daily basis? It turns out, most parents in America think it's not a good idea! According to Red Book Mag, a 2015 survey showed that only 28% of parents in the United States ask their kids to do some chores.
This situation is completely different in Europe, where kids get to help their parents around the house more regularly. Let me give you some numbers, so that you can see the contrast. 70% of kids in Romania and 68% in Poland do chores every day. Would you like parents in America to follow suit?
4 Relying On Babysitters
What does an average parent in America do, when they have a child at home and they need to go to work? They don't leave a child with a family member (like a grandma or grandpa) or with a friend. They hire a babysitter!
In Europe, they have a different opinion about this issue and they don't really like to leave their child with someone they barely know. In Spain, for example, they just ask the grandparents of the kid to cover for them. Basically, grandparents in Spain can even be called full-time, fill-in parents who watch their grandkids every day. And England has recently announced a plan to give a legal right to working grandparents to take time off work to take care of their grandchild!
3 Arranging Kid Beauty Pageants
America loves pageants so much that parents even let kids take part in them. Girls are especially encouraged to participate in the competitions, where they have to be better, smarter, and more beautiful than everyone else. It has even become a tradition in some families, where moms make their daughters go to pageants to get a chance to work as models in the future.
It might seem to be cute to see young kids going out of their way to make the jury and public like them. But, on the other hand, it can get a bit troubling (and parents in Europe seem to agree because they usually don't arrange such competitions). I mean, is it healthy for a little one to wear tons of makeup, have an adult hairstyle, and go around in a bathing suit in front of some crowd of strangers? Yikes!
2 Always Take The Kid's Side
If any problem occurs at school, most parents in America will take the side of their child in an argument with the teacher. They tend to believe their kids more than other adults and even if any improper behavior is reported, they don't support the school staff.
However natural it may sound for some parents that they have to protect their offspring no matter what, it's actually unhealthy to always advocate for your child. It's a better idea to respect the teacher and see into the situation before judging it from the viewpoint of a parent.
In most countries in Europe, especially in Greece, both parents and students tend to respect teachers more and this kind of situation never happens.
1 The "Move-Out" Age
America appears to be a very independent nation and to show this independence to everyone else they tend to let go of their offspring quite early. As soon as a person has turned 18 years old, finished high school and entered college, they're supposed to move out of their parents' house and start living on their own — like an adult. Or, at least, this is what one is supposed to do in accordance with social norms.
Meanwhile, children in Europe usually leave their parents much later. For instance, in France, the average move-out age is 22, in Poland, it's 24, and in Spain, it's 25.