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An Expat Parent Talks about Raising Kids in Gex, France


In France and Switzerland, the children are part of the family and therefore part of society. It is their right. Through their school education, they also learn about their responsibilities as well as their rights.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Gex

How is being a parent in your destination country different than in your home country?

My children were raised in several countries. Generally the parenting style in the Netherlands is more relaxed. Children have perhaps more input into their upbringing. They also have more freedom of movement that in England, where my children were born. Children in England are supervised more closely. Their movements are more curtailed, they have less freedom.

In Switzerland and France the children are allowed to be children for longer. They get a chance to have a decent childhood. They are part of the culture. More included in daily life.

What are the strengths of your home culture's parenting style? What are the weaknesses?

Due to the fact that they are more informed they learn to cope with their given freedoms on a more gradual scale. As they become older and gain more life experience, they are given more freedom. This way it's not such a shock when they hit 18 and all of a sudden they are presumed to be adults and don't know how to deal with their responsibilities. The weakness is that perhaps they are "little adults" before their time and haven't learnt to be children long enough.

What are the strengths of your destination culture's parenting style? What are the weaknesses?

In England, children are not part of society. There is still very much a seen and not heard attitude. One gets a babysitter when one goes out. Consequently, children don't get an opportunity to learn to behave in public. In France and Switzerland, the children are part of the family and therefore part of society. It is their right. Through their school education, they also learn about their responsibilities as well as their rights. By being included from a young age it is all relevant.

I see little weakness in this approach.

Are there specific changes you have made to your parenting style while living abroad with your family? If yes, what are these changes?

While the Dutch are perhaps too liberal and the English are too restrictive, it was great to take on board the attitude of the Swiss and French that one was a family unit, not just a number in individuals who happen to share the same house. Family is important and it was easy to slip into that life style.

Overall, has the impact of being an expat positively influenced your parenting or negatively influenced your parenting? Why?

I would say positively. I enjoyed raising my children. Perhaps because I never felt the need to appologize for the fact of having a family.

Do you have any advice or other thoughts about being a parent while living abroad?

Listen and take on board the positive aspects of one's host culture. After all that is one of the reasons for living in a different country. Don't always compare with one's own culture. They children learn more with a parent with a positive attitude.

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