If you asked me if I planned to bring up my children in the United States, the answer is, “no I did not”. If you asked me if I saw myself living in the States. Again, the answer is no, I did not. Before I met my husband, my plans as a single professional woman were very different. I don’t think I even imagined myself as a mother. Somehow, all my plans got changed along the way when I married a foreigner.
Today, I like what I see. I am glad I did not foresee my future and I trusted God along the way. But, I have to confess, sometimes “if” questions come to my mind. Questions like, how it would be if I lived in Bolivia? What if my kids never become fully bilingual? Would I be the same type of mother if I lived in Bolivia?
So I did what I usually do while I struggle with mothering in a foreign land, I asked the experts, Bolivian expat mothers. These mothers, are not just in the States. They are in France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. My questions were.
- What is the difference of parenting a child in Bolivia versus where you live? Is it better than Bolivia?
- How it would be different if you were in Bolivia?
The answers, opened my eyes to realities that sometimes I forget. They made me realize that where ever I am, parenting it is always going to demand hard work and adjustments to the environment. Here the conclusions I reached,
- The people interviewed lived in Bolivia during their childhood, as daughters. Today they all are mothers in a foreign land.
- Two different environments, different cultures, different language and different times.
- The way the mother was raised is going to influence the way the kids are brought up.
- The level of Education has direct influence in parenting.
- All of them agreed that Bolivian society is more conservative.
- Bolivian mothers tend to overprotect children, to the point of enabling future adults. Per example doing basic daily chores.
- Children in Bolivia are more dependent of the parents, that dependency sometimes leads to irresponsibility.
- Bolivia used to be a safer place to bring up children. Today human trafficking in Bolivia has become an imminent danger.
- Parenting in the States requires a driving mother.
- Developed Nations bring more options in education.
- Most of the children are bilingual.
Answer to my own questions,
- To me, parenting in the States, it is not better than parenting in Bolivia. I really like the idea of Bolivia being a more conservative society, where my language, my culture and traditions can be taught easily. Living in a bigger country is hard to keep it fully conservative, and pass along Bolivian traditions. I must say, I am glad I have the freedom to choose how to live. In my case, in a more conservative fashion.
- The answers reminded me of how spoiled and overprotected I grew up. Pretty much I learned about being a responsible independent adult as a married woman. I am trying with my children, not to just focus on education, but also create independent and responsible adults.
- One of the biggest differences for me if I lived in Bolivia probably is that I would not have the option of homeschooling my children. But private schools over there are not as expensive as here. Perhaps I would have to become more overprotective while working outside the home (that would be a challenge).
- Perhaps I would be with the same struggle, make my kids bilingual.
- I like the idea of not driving as much. The States definitely makes you carro dependiente.
- One thing is for sure; where ever I am, I have to be the best I can, and live one day at a time.
- In Italy “la mamma è la mamma!”. Did you know that Italian mothers love to have everything under control? This issue, however can vary according to the family.
- The United States is so diverse that you can find all sorts of motherhood styles. You can find conservative mothers, relaxed mothers, controlling mothers. This country embraces diversity and different motherhood styles. The cultural background makes the difference.
- Swiss Children learn responsibility and independence at an early age. Five year old children are trained to walk by themselves to school, obviously with the necessary safety measures.