Exactly which country you should try to emulate in your parenting style, however, is up for debate. Some popular options are Denmark (where both parents and children are purported to be happier than their American counterparts), Germany (the parents there “encourage kids to play with fire,” to supposedly great results), and, of course, the old favorite France (French children are famously well-behaved).
One country that tends to be left out of this aspirational parenting narrative? England.
This, as it turns out, is not exactly fair. They may not be as publicized, but the Brits do have more than a few useful parenting tips up their collective sleeve. And, unsurprisingly, most of their techniques are quite different than those you might come across in an American parenting handbook. Check out what they are here:
Brits get more maternity leave.
According to The Telegraph, it is possible to get up to 52 weeks of maternity leave in the UK. This is certainly a substantial lot more than the United States, where some working mothers aren’t guaranteed a single day of maternity leave. (And, for what it’s worth, it’s also a lot more than the rest of the EU, where new mothers can expect to get about 14 weeks of leave.)
Cursing is more common.
In many American households, using foul language of any sort as a child is a good way to get in big trouble. (Or, at the very least, have your mouth cleaned out with soap.)
In the UK, it’s less of a big deal — according to BBC America, swearing isn’t as much of a taboo as it is in the states, so if a kid lets a bad word slip, it’s not exactly the end of the world.
It’s not uncommon to find kids in
In America, this is usually seen as a bigger deal.
In the UK, it’s not out of the ordinary to walk into a bar and see a few kids running around. Many pubs in Britain have a more lax, open feel than American ones (and maybe even a garden in the back), so it’s easier for parents to head to an occasional happy hour. Instead of paying for a babysitter, all they have to do is bring their kids with them to the neighborhood bar.
The terminology is different.
Everyone knows that certain words differ between the US and the UK — you know, like, “jumper” for sweater, “crisps” for chips, and “biscuit” for cookie. So it should come as no surprise that parent language has some disparities as well.
Should you find yourself raising a child in the United Kingdom, you might find yourself using words like “posset” (spit-up), dummies (pacifiers), and, of course, “knackered,” which means that one is tired.
Extreme childproofing is less common.
In the United States, childproofing homes and schools tends to veer towards the side of “intense.” According to the blog Cup of Jo, in the UK, this isn’t exactly the case — childproofing certainly exists, but it is less extreme than it is in the US.
This doesn’t mean that parents in the United Kingdom don’t care about the safety of their children. Rather, it means that they view minor scrapes and scratches as being a means of building character.
Summer vacations are shorter in the UK.
The school system in the United States usually offers an approximate 12-week summer break, with a few smaller breaks throughout the year. In the UK, summer breaks are shorter (about six weeks in length), but the various breaks throughout the school year tend to be longer than they might be in the US.
Baby showers are less common in the UK.
In the US, baby showers are a standard rite of passage for expecting mothers. But in the UK, this isn’t exactly the case, since many people view them as tempting fate and being a harbinger of bad luck. Still, this doesn’t mean that baby showers are impossible to find across the pond — according to some British parenting blogs, baby showers are gradually growing in popularity.
New mothers get visits from midwives.
In the UK, midwives will visit with new moms (or, rather, “mums”) for the first 10 days after giving birth to see how they are adapting to motherhood. Since this is a service that comes with the National Health System in the UK, it’s totally free.
Giving birth isn’t expensive.
Another perk of motherhood across the pond? Giving birth itself doesn’t cost anything. In the United States, giving birth in a hospital can set you back about $3,000, but in the UK, it’s free, thanks to the NHS.
Childcare is (slightly) cheaper in the US.
People in the UK call on family members to help out
According to The Guardian, childcare is very expensive in the UK, taking up 40.9% of most family’s income. Because of this, many parents in the UK rely on “informal” means of childcare (aka asking family members to babysit) instead of more formal means, like daycare.
The safe sex talks start earlier.
Starting at age 13, kids in the United Kingdom can sign up for a program through the NHS, called the “C-card” program, in which they receive free condoms. This means that the talk about the birds and the bees comes much sooner than it might in the US, but this approach seems to be working — according to The Guardian, the United Kingdom has halved its teen pregnancy rate over the past two decades.