Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Babies In Contrasting Western Cultures

We tend to think of Western culture as one big group that stretches from North America across the Atlantic to Europe (and I must include Great Britain separately since they are no longer part of Europe). But in truth, this is not one big culture. In fact, there are a zillions of sub-cultures within Western culture.

The multiculturalism of Western culture came into sharp focus the past few weeks with two news article about babies. It's amazing how often babies highlight cultural differences in parenting philosophy, belief systems, and societal goals.

I found the article on Finnish babies going home in boxes quite charming. Even more charming is the fact that Finns get 10 months of paid leave to be parents and guess what, Finland has the lowest infant mortality in the world (let's contrast that with the US with a rate of 26th of industrialized nations)

One hospital in the US is also providing baby boxes but in this case, the boxes have been politicized and aimed at low income women suggesting that they don't know how to be good mothers. In general, the baby boxes also beg the question of safe co-sleeping which is, of course, too bad but that's another example of US fear mongering.

And so to the the other bit of Western subculture, the parenting advice machine. This month it comes in the form of an advice book that suggests we use game theory to parent our kids (read manipulate). Thats right, prisoners dilemma and such to get the kids to go to bed.

 I don't know about you, but I really don't have the time or  the math skills of game theory and will just continue with the tried and true, hardly ever successful, strategy of explaining, discussing, begging and threatening to manipulate my child.

Perhaps if she had come home in a free box and I had been given 10 months of paid leave, I wouldn't even have to do that.

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