20 Things US Parents Do (That Make No Sense To The Rest Of The World)

People are a product of their culture. When it comes to parenting, different cultures have different ideas on what they think is best. Thanks to the reach of cinematic and TV culture from the USA, many people all over the world have questions about the way parents from the country raise their children.

Now, everyone probably asks themselves questions about the parenting practices of other cultures. Parents from the US also question the practices of parents from other parts of the world as well. We like to have answers to things we don't know well.

Some of the observations below come from immigrants who have had to adapt to their new country. Other observations come from tourists who notice things that catch them off-guard.

Keep in mind that some of these parenting practices are strange, but they're still often carried out with the best of intentions. People in the US are some of the busiest in the world. Society in the country prizes independence, innovation, efficiency, and convenience.

People in the US also consider safety an important value. In a country of 330 million+ people, this means there's a diversity of ideas on how to achieve parental goals. Let's mull over some of these methods!

20 Kid Leashes

Via SheKnows

Visitors to the US often notice that some parents use kid leashes. The Today Show had a small a debate on whether or not using these harnesses is good for the child.

Some parents justify the use of these leashes in amusement parks and crowded areas where their young child could get lost amongst the crowd. One mom told the show that she began using these because she has twins. She says the leashes allow her to feel calmer because they can't just run off.

While strangers often glare at parents who use kid leashes, parents who use them are just trying to keep their kids safe.

19 Early Bedtimes


Sleepy People published an infographic about bedtimes for children around the world. In many cultures, school starts at 7:30 AM (here's looking at you, South Korea!). In other cultures, bedtime also means that children get to take a nap to recharge.

Parents in the United States are known for establishing early bedtimes for their children. Fatherly says there are scientific studies that back the benefits of this practice. An article they published showed that it might be good for children to go to sleep as early as 7 pm. Getting kids to sleep early also ensures that parents have a bit of me-time.

18 Use Of Baby Walkers

Via Self

Baby walkers were created to help children be able to move around on their own. They're also commonly used in the United States. However, their use is discouraged in other countries, or outright banned in other places—such as neighboring Canada.

In fact, parents in Canada could get fines just for owning this implement. Some reasons for its ban in the country include injuries and studies that show baby walkers could get in the way of proper development of motor skills.

Even if there are disagreements of the best way to teach kids how to walk, it looks like baby walkers are in the US to stay.

17 Microwaving Water

Via Dr. Weil

A person actually asked about this on Quora. A person (whom we presume is from the US) answered that boiling water in the microwave is common because most people don't own tea kettles. Naturally, tea drinkers around the world are probably astonished at this practice.

Isn't it hard to hold on to one's coffee mug or implement of choice if it's been microwaved along with water? A writer from Australia wrote an entire column about this on Huffington Post. Some key questions the writer asked included, "How on earth do they make their tea?" Sounds like people in the US boil their tea water in the microwave, mate.

16 Trick Or Treating


Halloween is a great tradition from the United States that has slowly gained ground around the world. Growing up in the US means you get to dress up as your favorite characters and knock on doors for treats. Part of the reason why the practice is so widespread is that the US is pretty safe for children.

In other countries, children are expected to make and give crafts or to sing songs. Other countries simply have other similar traditions. Mental Floss discusses other holidays besides Halloween, such as Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, and Day of the Dracula in Romania.

15 Weird Names


Celebrities in the US are known for giving their children unorthodox names. The thing is, this practice has caught on with non-celebrity parents in the US too.

In fact, the phenomenon has gotten so bad that one mom wrote a rant in S. Mommy about this phenomenon. She mentioned that children with strange names have their parents to thank for giving other people the burden of pronouncing something hard.

Part of this that fantasy TV shows, films, and books have made a big impact in the US. Then again, it might be time to reconsider naming your child something out of Harry Potter in favor of something that will help them land a job later.

14 No Assigned Chores

Via Bright Horizons

Children in many countries around the world are expected to help their families with chores. In Japan, children even clean different school areas, such as classrooms and toilets.

A survey showed that not only are parents in the US not assigning chores to their children, but 50% of children will also do "whatever it takes" to avoid doing them even when assigned. Parents all over the world are probably scoffing at this.

One psychologist even made suggestions for how to get children in the US involved in chores. After all, chores teach children many soft skills they'll be able to use later in life.

13 Tooth Fairy Money

Via Mommy Shorts

Children in the US grow up hearing about the tooth fairy who leaves money under their pillow in exchange for their baby teeth. Parents end up paying the price for this by actually leaving a bit of money to their impressionable children.

The question other parents ask themselves is: why would I ever pay my kid for losing their milk teeth? It's a tradition that has taken over culture. Tooth fairy money is such a cultural mainstay that parents even ask for advice about how much money they should give their kid! At least this tradition is relatively harmless and fun.

12 Tons Of Toys

Via Research Digest

Redbook Magazine reports that parents in the US spent an average of $500 per year on toys for children in 2015. That's a lot of money for toys!

Then again, this is the same country that came up with Disney World, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and other iconic creations that have made a major impression on children. As a culture, people in the US do tend to have a bit more access to discretionary income, and toys are not too expensive.

In addition, friends and family contribute to this by buying toys as presents for children during holidays and birthdays. Lightsaber, anyone?

11 Disposable Diapers

Via VeryWell Family

In many countries, parents potty-train their children at a young age by looking for signs their kids need to relieve themselves. This helps save money too. In other parts of the world, parents may cut costs by using reusable diapers.

Parents in the United States spend a lot of money on disposable diapers. Not only are they expensive, but they create more waste. Considering that many parents have a lot going on in the US, the use of these diapers helps them get things done.

Let's not forget that even having disposable diapers around is no fun. To each (parent) their own, right?

10 Summer Camp

There are tons of films and TV shows that make summer camp look totally fun! But alas, this practice is truly from the United States alone. According to Patch, many summer camps in the US were opened in the 1900s.

Though not every parent can afford to send their children to summer camp, parents in other countries simply don't do this. Instead, their children can watch some of the great films that give them an idea of what kids in the US do during their stay.

Of course, some camps are only for a few days or weeks, but they're not even close to becoming a mainstay across the world.

9 Spending A Lot On Specialty Dentistry

Via Today's Parent

Now, it's important for kids to get check-ups, cleanings, and visit the dentist. But parents in the US are known for spending a lot of money on things, such as braces, for their children.

This is quite different from the United Kingdom, where children might be able to get braces for free if they get them before they turn 18. Even though the option is available, parents might not seek it out for their children.

Plus, a study shows that people in the US don't have better teeth than people in the UK even after all of this money is spent.

8 Epic Parties

Via Funderland

Kids in the US really do have awesome birthday parties. Parents in the US have a lot of choices to make about how their children will spend their birthday. This may include having a theme, using a piñata, or even taking children to a skating rink.

If parents can afford it, that's great. But that doesn't mean every parent can actually foot the bill for an expensive party. Turns out that Pinterest and other social media have created more pressure for parents to have an even more over-the-top party for their kid. Parents from other countries tend to spend a bit less.

7 Gender Reveal Parties

Via New Mom Vibes

Some parents around the world heard of baby showers through films or friends. This tradition is meant to help new mothers have new things they might need.

According to Bump Reveal, gender reveal parties started becoming popular around 2012. Search engine data says the term was also quite popular in 2015 and 2017. Data also shows these parties are mostly thrown in the United States.

Social media actually helped popularize these parties. Considering that even baby showers don't exist around the world, we're sure parents worldwide are fascinated and confused by gender reveal parties. Of course, other cultures have different ways of helping new parents.

6 Later Potty-Training

Via Money Crashers

Someone on Quora asked why parents in the US often potty-train their children later than parents in other countries. The person definitely got some answers.

Theories about why parents around the world potty train their kids at younger ages include: parents in other countries have less money to spend on disposable diapers, they may live in warmer climates that allow them to potty train their kids during almost any season.

After all, if you live in Minnesota, you don't want to potty train your child during peak winter season! Some of these answers have even been backed in studies published on CNN.

5 Fast Food

Via Medical Daily

Parents around the world often avoid fast food. This is sometimes related to cost but is most often because of the reality that fast food isn't very healthy.

Fast food in the United States is quite popular, even amongst parents who are simply doing their best to feed their kids. Parents in the US are also known for giving their children food with additives.

The vast majority of parents who do this are simply trying to help their hungry children, but it's anathema to many parents' beliefs around the world. Parents in the US are also known for giving their children soft drinks.

4 Choosing Their Foods

Via CafeMom

Restaurants in the US are known for having a menu specifically for kids. Some reasons for this include providing a surface for children to color while their family waits for food.

Most of the time, kids can order from "child-friendly" food, such as grilled cheese sandwiches and other dishes that don't resemble what their parents eat. Not only that, but some parents even cook a different meal for their child.

In many cultures, children are expected to eat what their parents eat. TreeHugger even published an article that shows children who eat what their parents eat actually have better health outcomes than kids who eat "kid-friendly" food.

3 Putting Tots On Time-Outs

Via HubPages

Time-outs are popular in the US because they can be a great substitute for outdated forms of punishment. This punishment is meant to force a child to think about their mistakes and correct their actions. The use of this strategy also confuses many parents around the world.

The University of Minnesota Extension suggests using different strategies just in case time-out isn't working. Some of these include having clear rules and always enforcing them.

Parents are encouraged to notice why their child isn't behaving. Maybe they just want attention from their parent and mean no wrong. Sadly, very old-fashioned punishment is still common around the world, and the time-out just isn't.

2 Talking Back

Via YouTube

In many cultures, children are expected to be calm and obedient. Touro University Worldwide says that children from cultures with these values are less likely to talk back because they're taught to seek the good of the group.

Talking back seems to be a phenomenon to parents in the US because they tend to raise their children to be independent individuals.

Though many parents do their best to instill respect in children, others want their children to talk back. One mother wrote an article on Fatherly explaining that she plans to teach her daughter to disagree with others in a respectful manner.

1 Helicopter Parenting

Via HelloGiggles

Parents from Japan allow their young children to run errands on their own. They're even expected to use public transportation by themselves while still relatively young. This is very different from the way parents in the US tend to hover over their kids.

One dad wrote an article on Fatherly about how he knows this isn't the best way to raise his children. He admitted that he knew children need to give a try at things at their own pace. They need to control at least a small aspect of their lives. At least this dad was admitting that he's a part of this parental culture.

Sources: pbs.org, self.com, digest.bps.org.uk, verywellfamily.commedicaldaily.com, drweil.com, unicefusa.org, todaysparent.com, fatherly.com, vogue.comredbookmag.com, usa.com, quora.com.

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