Fatherhood Around the World: What American Dads Can Learn from Other Cultures

May 23, 2019

This is a featured artiicle

Love is a universal language, spoken around the world through smiles, playtime and cuddles. Despite several similarities, every culture on the globe has its own unique approach to raising a child. The differences do not only extend to how mothers feed, clothe and nurture their infants and toddlers, but also to how fathers interact with and support their kids. If you’re a dad who is learning the ropes as a new parent, know that you’re one of the most important (and enjoyable!) influences in a child’s life. While you take in sage advice from your own fathers, there is plenty you can also learn from men from other cultures.

A young boy brushing his teeth

Being a Dad in Asia

Rearing a child in countries like China and Japan is often similar to the traditional role of dad in the United States. Men are typically the breadwinners, while more women stay at home to take care of kids. However, like American fathers, Asian men are becoming more flexible with how they spend their day—and support their family. The key is to focus on the love you can provide your child while becoming more comfortable with new roles and being open to an alternative lifestyle.

Asia region fathers want you to know…

  • There’s nothing wrong with stay-at-home dads: Now that women are working more around the world, even the most educated fathers in Singapore, Vietnam, and other Asian countries are willing to provide full-time childcare. Remind yourself that parenting is a team effort. If your wife has a great career, don’t assume that it’s best to put her job aside. Consider all options, including being the one to take over daytime duties.
  • It’s okay to change up your family’s style: Some of today’s dads were raised with strict fathers who had a one-sided idea of what it means to be a man. Now, millennial Asian males are adopting child-centred parenting, deciding that it’s best to care for kids based on their unique personality, needs and mannerisms. If you don’t like how your dad treated you, switch it up now. Your decision to break habits and old cycles can make a huge difference in how your little one feels about themselves.
  • Being present is important: In Asia, the traditional workday can be over 10 hours. Add a commute to the city by train or car, and many dads are gone from sunrise to dusk. Since many Chinese and Japanese kids only saw their dads on weekends, today’s fathers are making it a point to work from home or choose careers that feature fewer hours. This allows them to provide financial stability by taking a more egalitarian role along with their wives and partners.
A man and a woman sitting on a bench

Fatherhood Wisdom from Europe

Like you, we believe that having as much support and love as possible is best for every child’s development. Many European countries consider a child’s father to be just as integral to happiness and health as their mother. Take a kernel of wisdom from dads in countries like Finland, Germany and Italy, who participate in family-centred programs and laws created by their communities and government.

In Europe, dads enrich their children’s lives by…

  • Taking advantage of parental leave: Unfortunately, maternity leave in the United States is often capped at 12 weeks. Paternity leave is still largely nonexistent in most companies. If you’re one of the lucky dads who gets time off from your small business or corporation, take it. You’ll not only help mom while she’s recovering, but you’ll get precious bonding time with your baby as well.
  • Allowing their child space to grow and develop: American parents are super attentive to their kids, which is an excellent way to keep them safe and foster mutual trust. While an active, involved father is never a bad thing, dads in Germany would suggest striking the right balance between supportive and hovering. Give your son or daughter an avenue for developing their own sense of responsibility and independence. It could be as simple as letting them take on the highest slides at the park alone—or letting them attend events alone with friends.
  • Giving mum a break: Dutch dads have no problem pitching in to help with washing the laundry, folding mounds of new baby clothes or making dinner—and they find it makes for a happier home as a result. Give your partner a break every weekend to hit the grocery store or while she spends quality time with the kids, or make breakfast so the rest of the family can sleep in. When you make small gestures of kindness toward your spouse, your children will notice. Not only will they develop compassion, but some research suggests they will be more likely to want to do chores as well.
A close up of a child s hair

Raising Children in Latin America

The Latin American region includes a variety of countries, including Chile, Peru and Venezuela. It also includes island countries like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. While each place has its own cultural flavour, they all share several core values. These centre around the father, who is considered the nucleus of the family.

You can influence your child for high self-esteem and overall success by…

  • Being a present and positive role model: In Latin American culture, dads are huge influences on both boys and girls. Each father is expected to set an example of a man for their son—and protect and positively influence their daughter. While you may work long days or feel more tired than you ever have, remember that every moment you spend with your baby or toddler is a critical experience for their development, as well as a pivotal chance to be a role model in their lives. As you model mastery over your life, know that they will begin to do the same thing for themselves.
  • Including your family in the process: You and your partner work hard to raise your child. Involving family members in your son’s or daughter’s life will help you save your energy when you need it. They can also provide childcare, so you and your partner have time to reconnect. Having grandparents, cousins and godparents close by is also an easy way to raise your child’s self-confidence. The more people they have to confide in and spend time with, the more they will realize the depth of the circle of love outside the deep connection with their parents.
  • Teaching them the value of interpersonal relationships: Families from countries like Panama and Costa Rica have a network of family members and friends that they can go to in times of financial and personal trouble. If you’re an American dad with five siblings and 24 cousins, take advantage of their company and help them when they need it. You never know when they’ll provide you with invaluable advice for extending naps or transitioning to solid foods. When they grow older, they may be the people that offer job recommendations or become a trusted friend.

Being a Dad Is a Celebration Around the World

If a piece of advice has resonated with you, think about how you can incorporate it into the way you raise your children. No matter what type of experiences you have with your little ones—or the values you instil in them—remember that being a source of strength for them and being a nurturer when they need it is just a couple of the best ways to show them that you love them.

The many ways of showing dedication and appreciation may vary across the globe, but what remains the same is how much dads will do for their kids. It’s the essence of why fatherhood is so special.

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