It's never really thought about that much but every single person on this planet and reading this article knows at least one parent in their lives - their own obviously. But it would be a very hard thing to go through life without knowing way more than one parent. Our friends and our other family members all have them and some even become them at some point.
We all learn from them what is right and wrong and we use their own behavior as an example for how we behave in life, and how we might or not behave as parents ourselves one day.
Strangely enough, there happen to be plenty of parenting practices around the world that seem beyond foreign to us, and not just because they live in a different country than us - they seem completely and utterly batcrap crazy to anyone who has an ounce of common sense in their brains.
Here are just 15 of those bad parenting pictures and customs from around the world. And no, these won't be pictures of the past, these are all currently happening right now.
15 Germany – Playing With Fire
Might as well start out with the universally accepted law-and-order type paragons of virtue, the Germans. Plenty of stand-up comics have made a joke or three at the expense of the nation’s past and their supposed “stuffiness,” when it comes to having fun. They're always presented as being either complete sticks in the mud or super-crazed partiers with no in between.
But as strict as the Fraus and Frauleins are made out to be, they're pretty lax when it comes to parenting. The children are allowed to play outside more or less whenever they want (hence the old German saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” They have a party when the kids start kindergarten, and encourage learning social skills.
But those are the good things. Then there are the questionable ones – such as letting the kids play with fire. According to an article on the Time website in which a second grader came home with a school project encouraging her to learn more about fire – which she and her mother did safely together, but if not done safely, suffice to say most of us reading know what could happen. They also seemingly don't worry about their kids getting abducted and let them roam about town by themselves too.
14 Central Africa – Men Breastfeed
In America, there is sometimes a big debate about whether or not mother should breastfeed in public. Imagine if they saw this! Heck, there's an old Family Guy bit where baby Stewie sleepily is breastfeeding but wakes up and recoils in horror when he realizes he's been feeding off of Peter’s boobs.
But in Africa, Pygmy males have been known to “whip out a t—,” every now and again for their kid. The male and female parenting roles are interchangeable there. They are still a primaries culture - it doesn't matter who hunts and it doesn't matter who raises the children. Men have nipples too, don't you know.
While you might think this is a little odd, supposedly the males of the tribe are the ones who spend the most time with their babies. Furthermore, according to lactation expert, Jan Barger – males actually do possess the same glands, etc. to produce milk, it's just unclear to how long that would actually take!
13 Greece And Mauritania – Spitting On Babies
Ever experienced the wonderful smell of baby spit all over your shirt – it makes you feel like Han Solo in the garbage compactor room – “what a wonderful smell you've discovered.” While most of you aren't looking to spit back at your kid, in Greece and Mauritania, Africa; it's considered all kinds of good luck to hawk a loogie on your baby’s head.
Just like if you say Beetlejuice three times and ghostly Michael Keaton might appear, the Greeks believe that spitting on a baby three times would ward that creepy guy away; him, and other evil spirits, bad luck, and even the dreaded evil eye. Although, in modern days, they don't actually spit, they just make the motion (is that better?).
In Mauritania, West Africa, the people believe that saliva can actually carry words, so the Wolof people of the region spit blessings onto their babies so that they stick to them. Mothers spit on faces and fathers in baby’s ears and for extra good luck rub spit all over the baby’s face. So next time one of your kids gets upset that you spat on them by accident while talking, just tell them it's for good luck.
12 Japan – Riding The Subways Alone
Even if New York’s Mass Transit was running smoothly everyday (instead of the non-stop delays and seemingly weekly derailments), you would never ever see a young kid riding the subways by themselves, and if you did there would either be a whole gaggle of them on a school trip or a parent wouldn't be too far behind. But if did see a kid riding alone, you'd probably be trying to find out where their parent was and making calls to 911 and the manhunt would begin.
But in Japan, this is common practice. There are kids as young as four years old allowed out of the house to run errands for the family. According to Christine Gross-Loh, author of Parenting Without Borders; who lives part time in the Land of the Rising Sun certainly notices the duality of the whole ordeal.
“If I let them out on their own like that in the U.S., I wouldn't just get strange looks,” she told TED. “Somebody would call Child Protective Services."
11 Europe – Park Your Kid
We all have seen this scene before walking past a cafe with outdoor seating – the dog is tied up outside the place, while the fur-parents are sipping cups of Joe or outright stuffing their faces. In old westerns – we see John Wayne perhaps tying his horse up to a post before going into the bar for a few drinks.
Yes, it is indeed common practice in some countries in Europe to leave your kid outside while you're in the restaurant chowing down. Sadly though, what is fine and dandy in your own home country might not be in one you immigrate to – a woman from Sweden who moved to Massachusetts had Child Protective Services called on her when she left her baby outside of a Tex-Mex spot.
At least they were left in a stroller and not inside of a car; hopefully everyone reading knows enough to not be so stupid.
10 Various Countries – Alcohol Is Healthy, Get Your Kids Sloshed
We all know that some kids in some cities find ways to get alcohol and get ripped long before they're 21. They wait outside convenience stores and ask an older kid to buy for them, or they have fake IDs – this entry isn't about that.
Nor is it about young kids going on and on about wanting to try whatever is in dad or grandpa’s cup and getting a quick shot of Dewars for your trouble. No, this entry is about countries like Croatia and Belgium where it seems that it's perfectly ok for younglings to order a pint. In Belgium, the practice was done because of child obesity – never mind that beer is broken down into sugar.
In Croatia, according to thenextfamily, seven percent of first graders are given alcohol more than six times a month. 30 percent of the boys and 12 percent of the girls in the eighth grade are getting hammered six times a week. Apparently all of this imbibing is due to the long held Croatian belief about how healthy alcohol is.
9 Polynesian Islands – Babies Taking Care Of Babies
Surely, almost everyone with at least two kids have joked about the fact that one takes care of the other, or the reason they had two is so they could watch each other. Of course older siblings generally do like to get in on the child rearing action with their newborn baby brother or sister. But they're never wholly responsible – mom and/or dad are never far behind for guidance and to make sure their oldest isn't breaking their youngest.
Imagine being able to just leave your kid with a slightly older kid? That's rearing in the Polynesian Islands. If you went to get groceries and left your little ones to fend for themselves – you would be locked up and the babies would be in a foster home, until you understood that leaving them alone is not ok.
But in the Islands, as soon as a baby can learn to walk, they're shipped off to be cared for by other children. They supposedly become more self-reliant than kids born in the West, since this is how they get to hang out with the older kids.
8 Asia – Potty Training In The Orient
Parents all know just how much “fun” potty training could be, no matter which method or age your little one starts learning how to go to the bathroom and learn to control their bladders. Now imagine doing it when your kid is five months old – it’s an old method still used to this day called “elimination training” or “elimination communication.”
Essentially the kid is encouraged to use the toilet on demand by a parent using certain sounds. Baby learns to “go on demand” and becomes diaper free a lot earlier than Western babies. While that might sound good, albeit demanding, Chinese babies are encouraged to wear kaidangku, slit-bottom pants so that they can release when held over a toilet and in public go outside wherever, whenever.
It’s a method that is being adopted by some parents in the West, here’s hoping there’s still some decorum when outside and we don’t need to have signs that ask us to curb our children.
7 India – Baby Tossing
Who among us has not experience the sheer joy of a child laughing hysterically at being tossed into the air…or utter terror? That's usually only a few inches out of your grasp. Heaven forbid something tragic were to happen you'd be right there. But those few inches get a little farther and scarier in Solapur, India where they have an entire festival devoted to heaving your brand new bundle of joy at least 50 feet into the air!
The Baby Tossing Festival is an annual, aptly named celebration that takes place in Solapur for the last 500 years. Babies are held by their feet and their hands and shaken for a moment and then simply dropped from a tower and are caught by a sea of people holding a sheet for the kid to land on. Yes it is as terrifying as it sounds – thank goodness there have been no fatal accidents.
Even though the practice has now been deemed illegal it is still done by devotees of the shrine of Baba Umer Dargah, who believe that the babies were dying to build a shrine and this would show their trust in the almighty.
6 Nordic Countries – "Cold Therapy" Is A Thing
The baby sleeping in this picture is friggin' adorable isn’t she? Most babies are especially when they’re cozy and snuggly looking. But the lil’ tyke is outside! Yes, the area is gated, and hopefully in a backyard somewhere and not in the woods completely not being neglected.
But in the freezing cold of European’s Nordic countries like Finland and Iceland, it’s entirely normal to put the kid down for their afternoon nap outside, in the freezing cold! The thought process is that these babies will grow to be more resilient to the harsh winters later on in their lives – um…anyone in Minnesota or Saskatchewan putting their cuties down in the yard? Good, please don’t start.
Cold therapy is normally aimed towards athletes, not little children but since the kids don’t exactly freeze to death, and are at least dressed properly for the cold, parents keep doing it. Finland babies are outside sometimes as early as two weeks old. You would never see your kids again if you did that in America.
5 Korea – Kids Go Hungry
What's in your or your loved one's diaper bag? Besides spare clothes, wipes, and diapers, at the very least there's water and some form of snack if not rations to last for days. Despite the obesity issues in America, most parents still load up on all sorts of snacks and the kids generally get three square meals a day and two designated snack times, depending on if your kid goes to daycare.
Koreans however don't believe in “grazing” all day and teach their children the value of eating together with family and friends. The whole family has to be sitting down to eat together. So all of those “hangry” kids you might see in this country don't necessarily exist in Korea. And if they do, tough noogies on them.
Obviously, the kids aren't starving, but to the untrained eye, those cries an outsider might see and hear would be a kid starving because he hasn't eaten in hours. Even more interesting is from the time they are young, Korean children are eating the same food as their parents and not baby specific food.
4 Chile – Taking Candy From Strangers
In most countries, with the exception of one day a year (Halloween), children are taught from an early age about taking candy (or anything else, for that matter), from a stranger. 'Stranger Danger' is a term just about every kid in America knows from a super young age. So kids, in case you don't know steer clear of shady looking vans, especially if “Free Candy” is splattered all over the car.
Unless you live in Chile, then it's perfectly ok to head near shady looking Free Candy Vans – in fact it might be encouraged. In the country, it’s considered a sign of affection to offer up some juju bees to a kid. Often times strangers will offer up candy to passersby they see on the street, so seemingly everyone in Chile is like your grandma – a purse full of candy!
3 New Zealand – No Shoes…Yes Service
There's a sign more or less posted on every convenience store, bank, and other place of business in most parts of the world - “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service,” which obviously means if you're walking into someone's place of business you should be fully clothed. It's generally considered a sign of good hygiene and maybe even good upbringing to not be running around barefoot everywhere – especially when you could step on glass or worse.
Tell all of this to a Kiwi, or anyone growing up in New Zealand. Megan Cahn, who wrote a piece for cupofjoe, about being an ex-pat who grew up in Atlanta, GA and some of the differences between parenting in Oz and parenting in the Peach state, and being barefoot in public was the most jarring difference.
Like most Americans would be, she was shocked to see so many people running around barefoot – adults too, it's a definitive part of the culture in New Zealand, no matter where you are – doctor’s offices, the mall, wherever.
“Children are required to arrive and leave school with shoes, but they don’t have to wear them at school. I used to think it was so surprising, but now half the time my own girls aren’t wearing shoes either. The other day, I ran out of the house to go to the store and I looked down and I was like, ‘I guess I’m a Kiwi because neither my children nor myself have shoes on and I am not going back to get them.’”
2 China – New Moms Have To Stay Home For A Month...Without Baby
For anyone that has gone through it or watched someone go through gestating a life inside of them for nine months and then spends more or less at least ten hours in labor knows that a new mommy definitely might need a break. Lucky for new moms in China, they actually get a full month off.
While that might sound amazing for plenty of new mommies, the Chinese tradition of Zuo Yuezi is basically house arrest with your brand new newborn for a month. It translates to “sitting the month,” to recuperate from the pain of childbirth. You can't wash, and you have to eat fairly bland food. The tradition dates all the way back to the I-Ching and is all about getting mothers ready to take care of their new baby.
Thankfully, the baby is cared for too during this time as round the clock care is given to the kid – just not by its mother, so all that close bonding is out the window at the most crucial time in a baby’s life, barely a day old.
1 Turkey – Strangers Touching Babies
Suffice to say nearly all parents reading this article would completely flip out if some random stranger just started pawing at your brand new lil’ bundle of joy. “Fawn over the cute little baby all you want but don't you dare touch my child without asking you weirdo!” In this culture, where a lot of parents even make their dearest of friends and loved ones sanitize their hands 73 times before holding their child, they certainly could attempt to cause bodily harm on any stranger that would try.
Please don't book any trips to Turkey if you're this type of parent – this culture is all a bunch of old grandmas who want pinch chubby cheeks – even the young men turn to mush at the sight of a brand new baby.
Passersby in Turkey would even lift your baby right out of their stroller to say hello. They're totally baby crazy in this country, even the young boys would coo and tickle a baby, and if you don't like babies, the culture will think you're a bad person!