Warning: Better Ideas Ahead
- What: Achtung Baby book by Sara Zaske
- When: Birth to college
- Why: Different perspective on parenting
- Where: Amazon
Ever wondered how different your kids might be if you raised them in a different country? Want to know how your own values and beliefs might change if you had more international parenting experience? Welcome to Sara Zaske’s Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children.
From pregnancy to the teenage years, this expat mom of two compares and contrasts her parenting experiences in both the United States and Germany. With the insight of a non-native and a dash of American humor, she handles even the more difficult topics like sex, death, and religion – with preschoolers! The book offers an expanded view of the world through the eyes of both children and parents. It also gives concrete suggestions on what parents can do from the comfort of their own American home to help kids be kids while learning how to be responsible adults.
You can read this book one section at a time, or devour the whole thing in a couple of days, like I did. I consider myself open minded, but it turns out growing up in a narrow-minded culture makes it hard to see your own limitations. Zaske brings empirical facts to topics such as letting kids spend time unattended and the benefits of providing comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care. She also covers universal childcare and parental leave, standardized testing, and the importance of play and the outdoors both at school and at home.
I’m glad I picked up this charming read, so I can start following some of these suggestions and letting go some of my own non-productive parenting paranoia sooner rather than later. If you want to explore where your rights as a parent end and when your kids rights as an individual begin, check out this fascinating read on comparative parenting.