Parenthood looks different in every culture around the world.
In some places, kids don’t start school until the age of 7, have minimal homework, and take long breaks during school.
Here are seven unique parenting styles from around the world that could leave Americans shocked (or jealous).
Parenthood doesn’t come with a rulebook. There does, however, seem to be a set of unofficial parenting guidelines, and they vary profoundly among different cultures. Parents in one country might not think twice about spanking for bad behavior, parents in other parts of the world would consider it a crime.
Some Americans would be horrified by the sight of unsupervised babies sleeping in their strollers on the sidewalks of Scandinavia, Japanese elementary students cleaning their own school toilets, or preteens sipping cabernet sauvignon with their pizza in Italy.
Here are seven unique parenting styles from around the world that might come as a surprise:
1. Independence at a young age
In Japan, children as young as six years old walk to school and run errands sans supervision, even in the bustling city of Tokyo, according to The Atlantic. The country’s crime rates are exceptionally low, and parents expect others in the community to help look after their children.
Kids don’t need a chaperone to help get them to school, nor do they need anyone else cleaning up after them once there. From as early as first grade, Japanese students sweep and mop classrooms and hallways, dust, and even sometimes clean the bathrooms in their schools, according to Mic.
2. Babies nap outside (even during the winter)
Scandinavian children are raised on the foundation of “friluftsliv,” or “open-air living.” It isn’t abnormal to see babies napping outside in their strollers, unattended, even in the wintertime.
Expat parents have even been arrested in the US because of the common practice, The New York Times reports. But, many parents in Nordic countries still believe that al fresco napping keeps their children healthy, according to the BBC.
3. Toilet training from birth
Chinese babies are taught to relieve themselves into the toilet on command of a parent’s whistle, sometimes starting when they are only a few months old. Many kids are fully potty trained by age 2, according to The Washington Post.
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