Every cultural group has their own values and traditions that they apply to infant caretaking. Americans may sometimes find these customs odd and couldn't imagine implementing them in their own lives (like genital mutilation as mentioned in earlier posts). However, Americans aren't completely closed minded when raising their children. After picking and choosing the aspects of parenting methods seen in other parts of the world, America has seen a growing popularity in these infant caretaking customs.
One example of international influence on American parenting is babywearing. The term may not be familiar, but it isn’t uncommon to see these mothers carrying their infants in a sling around their body. Babywearing has only recently become popular in America, yet it has been a prominent part of childrearing across the world for centuries.
• In China, mothers have been wearing their babies for thousands of years, including in the traditional Mei Tai carrier hold.
• Native Americans on United States soil wore their babies during the busy day of cooking, cleaning, preparing animal skins, and more.
• In many nations, babywearing is still a vital practice of parenting, part of cultures dating back centuries.
Another everyday international method being used by American parents is Lamaze birthing. Most likely if a woman were to go into labor, even somebody not trained in the Lamaze method would tell the expecting mother to breath in and out. “The method isn’t quite this simple, but includes childbirth education classes, relaxation, breathing techniques and continuous emotional support from the father and a specially trained nurse”. The French Dr. Fernand Lamaze was credited after formalizing the method, but the first people to use these techniques were the Soviets. It wasn’t until the 1960s that this method was embraced by parents across the nation.
Even things as common as name choice for babies in America are showing an increase in foreign origins. Parents are moving away from traditional Christian names like John and Mary to more names like the Irish Aiden (the most popular name given to boys in 2009 in America) or the Persian Jasmine (ranked #100 in most popular names given to American girls in 2009).
Some interesting questions to think about…
1. How often do you notice mothers babywearing in a given week?
2. What are the benefits of babywearing?
3. Do you know somebody who has practiced Lamaze? How can this method ease the birthing process?
4. Which names would you be likely to name your children? Do they have a traditional English/Latin/Christian origin, or do they fall outside this realm?
5. Common names from the 1950s are predicted to soon become popular again, do you think names like Gary and Deborah will be making a comeback?
Post provided by Karl Daruwala, Annika, Ecklund, Carolyn Kaufman, Elissa May, Sally Pitcher, and Stephanie Vassillion.